Author: Ken Tencer, Spyder Works Inc. CEO
2021 MBOT Chair
In December of last year, the Report on Business Magazine, published by The Globe and Mail, announced its CEO of the year in Canada. The winner couldn’t have been a more fitting tribute to business in 2020. In their words, “we decided that our top honour this year wouldn’t go to one executive, but to all Canadian small business owners. It is the ingenuity and resilience of small businesses that we should look to guide Canada through this grim period.”
That recognition of strength was the rallying cry Canadian businesses needed to unify and bounce back from the uncertainty that surfaced during the pandemic. This “grim period” continues to challenge the forbearance of Mississauga businesses, and with inevitable change on the horizon, we need to commit to a steady and structured approach to our goals. The Mississauga Board of Trade stands firm as a beacon of hope to connect, champion and advance the business community. We have worked hard to be the leading voice for business in Mississauga.
To my disappointment—and the disappointment of my colleagues at MBOT—the voice of small and emerging business in Canada is waning. Some of the pre-imminent publications on small business, including Profit magazine and the Canadian Business Magazine, have closed up shop or shrunk in size. And although these important outlets for the voices of small business have declined, the economy continues to be driven by entrepreneurs and scaling firms who employ the majority of people—not just large firms, but small and mid-size firms too.
For these reasons, I am delighted to see MBOT distribute their Connect magazine through The Globe and Mail in Peel Region.
During a time when many of us are working remotely, far from our colleagues and co-workers, learning new and innovative ways to stay connected has never been more important. Our team at MBOT has spent the past year diversifying and building initiatives that support and connect leaders from different industry sectors.
One such initiative is the Mississauga Economic Recovery Group (MERG), aimed at providing data and insights to MBOT that can aid in the creation of new programs and collaborative opportunities for businesses in our community.
MERG began as a question: “What can MBOT do to help Mississauga businesses recover from the impacts of COVID?” Led by our MERG chair, Ellen McGregor and MBOT CEO, David Wojcik, MERG’s solution was to create a panel to play three essential roles for the business community: to act as part of an oversight committee, to lead a group of companies within their respective sectors and to ensure their own organization provided input to questions they would ask of others. The six sectors that have come together under MERG are Life Sciences and Health Care, Education and not for profit, Professional and Financial Services, Manufacturing, Hospitality-Tourism and Retail and finally, Transportation – Logistics and supply.
We had a desire to connect businesses and drive a stronger emergence through the pandemic, and what MERG has done is provide us incredible sightlines toward the types of business and industry that are at play in Mississauga. With MERG, we can understand the needs and challenges of businesses today while helping firms of all sizes come together to help one another to the other side of this pandemic.
What we really hope to do over this next while is CONNECT, whether that is done by providing resources to businesses throughout the pandemic or involving ourselves in advocacy work with Mississauga, Peel Region, and the Provincial and Federal governments. There’s no better example of connection than this magazine distributed more broadly than ever throughout the Peel region. This is something David Wojcik and I have spoken about and wanted to do for a number of years.
We want to be the voice of emerging business in our region. But what does that mean? It means that we will listen to the needs and concerns of Mississauga’s business community and take actionable steps toward solutions. We will be a voice in the ear of the government, influencing changes before decisions are made and offering feedback after the changes are implemented. That voice is important, not only for businesses themselves, but for any executive who wants to understand what the state of business is like today, where it’s going and where we can take it.
During times of uncertainty, there are really only two reactions we can have: “wait and see” or “step up.” I’ve never been a “wait and see” type of person. Now more than ever, we need to double down and step up. That’s the philosophy I have instilled into my team at Spyder Works Inc., and it will be the philosophy that guides MBOT into the future. Let’s raise the voice of Canadian business, together.
This article was originally published in the 2021 Spring Issue of CONNECT Magazine.