Author: Ellen McGregor, CEO Fielding Environmental
Chair of MERG (Mississauga Economic Recovery Group)
Even with a mask, you will no doubt recognize our illustrious MBOT Chair and partner with Speigel, Nichols, Fox – Susanne Balpataky, MBOT President & CEO – David Wojcik and MBOT V.P. Government & Stakeholder Relations – Brad Butt. You might have also spotted Jim Molyneux, MBOT Past Chair and Regional Managing Partner of MNP. Smiling behind their masks are Alexandra Gillespie, the new Principal of UTM, Jane Chung, President of Astra Zeneca, John McKenna, President of McKenna Logistics, Paul Meo, President & CEO of NTN Bearing Corporation of Canada, Sam Sharma, President of Crown Group of Hotels, Bree Ranieri, CEO CoTalent Corporation and me, Ellen McGregor, CEO of Fielding Environmental. So why did so many business leaders gather? To launch MERG – pronounced with a soft “g”. MERG stands for the Mississauga Economic Recovery Group.
What’s MERG about?
It began – as all great ideas do – with a conversation. At the beginning of April this year, David Wojcik posed this question to me. “What can MBOT do to help Mississauga businesses recover from the impacts of COVID”. He went on to say, “We should form a group of senior business leaders from various sectors of the Mississauga business community to think through the impacts of COVID-19 on the various sectors and more importantly, what can be done to mitigate and reverse the effects”. He then asked for my help, which immediately triggered a passion within. After all, my business had been substantially impacted and not in a good way even though Fielding had been characterized as “essential”. I could only imagine the impact on business owners who had been forced to close. With a sense of urgency, MBOT needed to show strong leadership underpinned by well thought out disciplines with an outcomes focus. In late April, the approval was given by the MBOT Executive Committee and MERG was created.
We began to brainstorm objectives at a 40,000 foot level. We knew we needed data from Mississauga businesses. Data that would lead to advocacy work – with the City, the Region as well as the Provincial and Federal Governments. But more than that, in order to really help Mississauga businesses, we needed data that would trigger actions to leverage capabilities unique to Mississauga. For instance, the creation of new talent pools or alternative access points to capital. The creation of new programs or collaboration opportunities to reduce costs. We knew that quantifiable, accurate, timely data could spearhead powerful actions to help companies recover and exceed pre-COVID measures. With objectives clear in mind and a “working” Charge in place, our minds turned to the “How”.
With grey haired experience, we knew what we wanted to avoid. Both of us had been on panels whose work had been thwarted by bureaucracy, misunderstanding and divergent agendas. Both of us had felt the frustration of having recommendations filtered through sub-committees and governing committees – seeing recommendations diluted, mis-actioned or worse, simply ignored. We knew we needed a construct that would be nimble and impactful – lead by senior business leaders who could engage resources and commit their organizations to advance the work of MERG.
Our solution was to create a panel whose members would have 3 roles. (1) To be part of an oversight committee. (2) To lead a group of companies within their sector. (3) To ensure their own organization provided input to questions they would ask of others. Panel members would ensure that companies from all across Mississauga would be engaged to share facts and ideas. The Panel would then mine data and make recommendations to MBOT for actions, advocacy, and communication. The construct – albeit one that places weighty responsibilities on panel members – is elegant and empowering. MERG is truly MBOT’s grass roots initiative lead by top talent – Done right – and it will be – it will serve as a recovery model for every City across Canada. The picture on the front cover represents the inaugural panel members of MERG and I am honoured to be the inaugural Chair. Huge thanks to our Sector Leaders, Alexandra, Jane, John, Paul, Jim and Sam for stepping up. Stay tuned for updates as MERG helps Mississauga businesses “E-MERG“ stronger.