Niagara-based non-profit Future Black Female is launching a 12-week Marketplace Bootcamp for Black women aged 18-25 to help them start and run a successful business. Entrepreneurs will get access to a fully-equipped retail/service space, entrepreneur workshops, networking events, coaching, and mentoring in a series of hands-on, experiential courses.
Feminist-informed Future Black Female (FBF) is a non-profit organization that works to empower Black girls and women to take charge of their education and career paths as well as their social, political, and civic engagement.
Only one in fifty Canadian businesses are Black-owned, and less than a third of those are owned by Black women. This gap is bigger than in either White or other racialized business owners, and it is widening. Statistics Canada reports that Black-owned businesses in Canada also tend to be smaller and less profitable. Black business-owners face systemic barriers, including far smaller peer support networks and a lack of access to capital both through institutional lenders and through White-dominated investor networks.
Black female youth in Niagara are particularly under-served. Small business enterprise centres in the region run an Ontario Summer Company program, which supports youth entrepreneurship. Although it has been running for a quarter of a century, no Black female youth have participated in recent years. Black female entrepreneurs are wary of debt and reluctant to access available credit. A business training program run by the Welland Heritage Council and Multicultural Centre trained many immigrant women, but found that they took an average of two years to apply the skills they’d learned.
Aiming to help close these gaps in Niagara, Future Black Female is tackling the issue head-on with direct support for young Black women looking to start or grow a business.
The program will run for two years, with the first sessions starting in May 2023. Over three months, participants will develop their business skills in team-based practical exercises under the guidance of expert coaches and mentors. At the Future Black Female marketplace, they’ll put their training to the test with stalls and service desks that help develop their business acumen in a hands-on, experiential environment. Participants in the program will learn all the practical skills they need to run a successful business. Workshops will tackle key talents such as creativity and innovation, opportunity recognition, critical analysis in decision-making, strategy and communications, resource management, and interpersonal skills.
Young entrepreneurs will create advertising and marketing campaigns to attract customers and clients, and then gain experience selling goods and services in a market environment. They will be guided through the process of registering their business, creating budgets, accounting, preparing tax documents, and developing business and growth plans. Successful graduates of the program will have further opportunities to pitch their business to Niagara investors, with all the tools they need to succeed.
Anyone interested in participating can apply by emailing their business plan to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants should be Black women aged 18-25, able to commit to at least 25 hours per week (including Saturdays), and in the start-up/operational stage of their business.
Paid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave ending on March 31, 2023
As a time-limited pandemic measure, the Ontario government introduced paid COVID-19 leave, a program designed to support people who needed to take time off work to isolate or get vaccinated.
It will expire effective March 31, 2023, consistent with the sunset date for this program given Ontario has now achieved one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.
Eligible employers are still entitled to be reimbursed the amount of infectious disease emergency leave pay that they paid to their employees, up to $200 per employee per day taken, through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. However, eligible employers must make their application within 120 days of the date the employer paid the employee, or by July 29, 2023, whichever is earlier.
Please note that unpaid infectious disease emergency leave continues to be available to eligible employees if they are not performing the duties of their position for certain reasons related to COVID-19.
If you need help understanding your responsibilities and rights under the ESA, you can:
Call the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit Information Centre at 1-888-999-2248 or TTY (for hearing impaired) at 1-866-567-8893. Information is available in many languages.
Emergency shelter pilot program comes to a close
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2023
Welland, ON – The seasonal emergency shelter pilot program has concluded.
The shelter opened on February 2 and was operational on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. Overall, the shelter welcomed 22 individuals for 89 stays, averaging three per night. There were five beds available. The shelter’s pilot program concluded on March 26.
“We knew the need for this shelter existed, and to have 89 stays over the pilot project period confirmed that,” said Councillor Bonnie Fokkens, who, along with Councillor John Chiocchio, brought forward a notice of motion to implement the shelter. “This project wasn’t perfect, there were things we could anticipate and those we couldn’t, but our partner response was always exceptional. We must now take what the data shows us and continue the discussions and work with other levels of government to help those in our community who need it most.”
As part of the project, shelter staff screened and engaged visitors, assisting in appropriate diversion practices for those in need. Councillor Sharmila Setaram assisted the project through regular public engagement with local residents.
In addition to partnering with the Hope Centre, the City also worked alongside Beyond the Streets Welland, Holy Trinity Church, and the Niagara Regional Police.
A fulsome report will come to Council in the coming weeks with more detailed data and a complete project review. The City contributed $9,000 for this initiative through the Corporate Continency Fund, amended on January 17, 2023, and, as part of the aforementioned report, will receive an update on any additional costs incurred.
Canada Summer Games generated $350m in local economic activity
The Canada Summer Games in Niagara was not only a sporting success but also a financial success, reports Doug Hamilton, Host Society Board Chair.
According to an economic impact report, “the economic activity generated from the games was more the $350-million.” Hamilton added, “we are in a very fortunate position to have generated a cash surplus as well.”
The games society reports that the games finished with a surplus between $3-3.5-million dollars.
Hamilton says that the money has been earmarked to establish a sport legacy fund which will be used to advance sport in Niagara through a an organization called Sport Niagara. Sport Niagara will focus on assisting the bidding and hosting of future sport events in Niagara, on delivery of sport programs, and on other services.
Accessibility ramp coming to Maple Park Pool as part of $100K EAF funding
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2023
Welland, ON – The City of Welland received a grant from the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) to fully fund the construction of the Maple Park Pool Ramp. Council voted to approve the funding at their meeting on March 21, 2023.
“Removing barriers for persons with disabilities continues to be a priority for the city,” said Rob Axiak, director of community services. “A ramp at Maple Park Pool is a necessary step to enable all residents of Welland to enjoy what the facility has to offer.”
The EAF provides funding to make Canadian communities more accessible for persons with disabilities. Launched by the Federal government, the grant aims to create more opportunities to participate in community activities and access employment.
“The EAF provides grant funding for small-scale construction and communication technology projects that improve accessibility in communities and workplaces,” said Axiak. “The City of Welland received a grant for $100,000 to fully fund the construction of the Maple Park Pool ramp.”
Construction on the accessibility ramp is underway, with a projected opening for this summer of 2023. Maple Park Pool is located at 512 South Pelham Road. For more information on municipal pools, please visit Public Pools and Splash Pads (welland.ca).
Today, Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland presented the government’s 2023 budget to Parliament. Key highlights included:
A total of approximately $30 billion in new spending over the next five years
A $40.1 billion deficit in 2023-24, up from the $30.6 billion deficit forecast in the fall
A reduction in revenues of $5.7 billion this fiscal year owing to the slowing economy
An additional $30 billion in health care and dental care investments over five years
A 15 per cent refundable tax credit to utility companies that invest in “clean electricity” technologies, to cost $7.3 billion over the next five years
A complete overhaul of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) regime, which will now apply to Canadians in the top income tax bracket (over $173,000) who will see their capital gains inclusion rate jump to 100 per cent and a host of eligible tax deductions, like moving or employment expenses, dropped to 50 per cent. This is projected to generate $3 billion in tax revenue over five years
$2.5 billion in “targeted inflation relief” to 11 million low- and modest-income Canadians via a boost to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit, pitched as grocery price relief
$15.4 billion in cuts over five years to federal consulting, professional services, and travel for federal agencies, departments, and crown corporations
$13 billion for dental care to include seniors and children under 18
The federal alcohol excise tax will be capped at 2%, normally set to increase at the rate of inflation, which would have been 6.9%
Measures without cost included cracking down on “junk fees” often attached to concert tickets and other services, moving to an automated tax-filing system, a standardized charging port as found in the EU, a right-to-repair framework, capping interest charged by predatory lenders, and a crackdown on tax evasion
No major spending or initiatives on housing supply were announced
Here are the key takeaways in Canada’s budget
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland released a budget in Ottawa on Tuesday that deepens Canada’s fiscal deficit as the Trudeau government books $43 billion (US$31.6 billion) in new costs over six years. New spending focuses on bolstering the health-care system, keeping up with the U.S. on clean-technology incentives, and helping low-income Canadians cope with inflation. Debt as a proportion of total output will climb as a result, before resuming its downward trajectory. No return to budgetary balance is forecast.
GO Transit makes major schedule changes to routes including Lakeshore East/West
GO Transit is making several schedule changes to various routes starting on March 25.
The lines in question are Lakeshore West and East, Barrie, Kitchener, Milton and Stouffville. Starting April 8, GO Transit will be temporarily replacing some late night and early morning train services with GO bus service to help progress on infrastructure maintenance projects. On April 8 and 9, work will continue on integrating the Ontario Line. This work will bring important service improvements to the Lakeshore East Line and can only be done when trains are not running on certain tracks.
City of Welland adopts a bold and modern new brand focused on resiliency and opportunity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2023
Welland, ON – The City of Welland is adopting a new brand.
Approved by City Council on March 28, 2023, the new brand focuses on the City’s unique geographical and natural amenities and themes of connection, both in a physical sense and from a relational perspective.
“It’s an exciting time to be in Welland, and moving forward with a revitalized brand injects further excitement into projects underway and those coming to the city,” said Marc MacDonald, corporate communications manager. “Based on the community consultation, the brand reflects traits and values important to the residents and will guide the City in its marketing, communications, and development.”
The process to rebrand, first approved in the 2022 budget, began with a competitive RFP awarded to Cinnamon Toast New Media Inc. Throughout May and June of the same year, the City consulted the public through digital surveys, focus group sessions, and one-on-one interviews. All the information collected during this process formed the brand framework.
The City’s current logo was not subject to the same consultation, design accessibility, or research as the newly adopted one. The new logo’s inspiration comes from the canal that carves its way through the city. The logo’s bold ‘W’ shape reflects the fluidity of water, the connection between communities, and the theory of movement and constant evolution.
With a colour palette of blues, green, and yellow, the colours are representative of the waterway, nature, and new beginnings.
Though adopted on March 28, 2023, the brand’s official launch will occur in May, alongside a redesigned City website. Learn more about the rebrand at www.engagewelland.ca/rebrand.
Are your digital platforms wasting your customers’ time?
As digital tools proliferate and their capabilities multiply, one thing remains constant: what people don’t have more of is time. Our time is, arguably, one of the most precious resources we have on this planet.
Over the past eight years, as a part of our research for our annual Collaboratives programs, which focus on large cross-industry challenges, we have been asking consumers and companies to describe for us their desires and beliefs about new digital experiences. While their responses have varied, one common thread has run through every field study, survey, and interview we’ve conducted: no one wants digital tools that waste their time, while everyone wants digital experiences to offer time well spent. Too many apps, URLs, and devices do the opposite. There are two false premises that hinder the time value of digital experiences.
For business owners, marketing is essential to running a successful operation. This can include many aspects of marketing and it can be overwhelming trying to think about the best approach to getting the message out about your brand.
Have you ever considered using community as a marketing tool? Building and nurturing a community can be an incredible asset to your small business, and it shouldn’t be overlooked.
A community relies on a shared interest, common goal, or belonging to a geographical location. When building a community around your business, it’s important to identify what drives your audience and connect with people on those values.