Friday, June 26, 2009

Who is Measuring the Winnipeg Business Call Initiative?

It was reported today in the Free Press that 12 hot leads have been prospected from the "Business Call/Selling Winnipeg to the World" initiative led by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. At the Chamber breakfast Friday morning, it was further revealed that actually 100 prospects were identified, and of those 12 were considered "hot." What also came to light was that about 5 or 6 Winnipeg businesses are preparing to exit the city as well - something the Free Press failed to report on. To me this is the most important piece of information, and may be the most critical work done by the Business Call team.

My question - Who is the Chamber/Business Call team accountable too? Who, outside the Chamber, is measuring their performance? Is it the responsibility of Winnipeg business owners or the taxpayers or some third party committee? How are they measuring success? One company relocating to Winnipeg?... Two? Keeping one here who was going to leave? What?

We all know should the Chamber close any of these 12 hot leads that Martin Cash will be quickly be shouting the praises of their good work in the "City and Business" section of the Free Press...but what if they don't close any? Furthermore, what if they lose the 5 or 6 businesses looking to leave?

I was also puzzled when the Free Press quoted V.P. Bill Morrissey on the results of the survey that Business Call did to the variety of Winnipeg business owners. He stated that "the results were not surprising -- the highest positive attribute was the reliable workforce and the most prominent negative one was the tax base." So why do the study then? Was this the best use of time? Why not at least make a statement more to the flavour that "the study reinforces our strong workforce and limitations that the payroll tax provides" as opposed to saying "no surprise?" I'm big on the language people use, especially in the business and political world, and I would guess that interested Winnipeggers would be sensitive as well - especially when in writing. The statement made me think that there may have been better questions to ask to better utilize the time of the business owners they called.

All in all, the Business Call initiative is important. The one-to-one approach will always be effective. I only wonder, though, that if this initiative fails, how or will we ever know?

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