Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Connect Grant stories

A smiling woman holds a coffee carafe and a mug in a cafe. The text "connect grant" is on the right.

In 2020, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ offered a new grant that paired small downtown businesses needing help with downtown service experts that could provide it. The first-ever Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Connect Grant paired 57 member businesses with eight different member service providers. Here are just a few of the success stories.

Impression Delight/Travel | Bill Liu

When COVID-19 shut down international travel, Cherry Lin, owner of Impression Travel, knew it was time to get creative. Rather than closing their office, Cherry applied to move into a BIGGER space… so that Impression Travel could branch into Impression Delight! Now a bright and cheerful cafe serving teas, smoothies, desserts, baking and more.

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Connect Grant paired Impression Travel with Bill Liu of CL Chartered Professional Accountant Ltd. to get the accounting help she needed.

“Accounting and tax costs can be large for businesses,” says Bill Liu, of CL Chartered Professional Accountant Ltd. “Thanks to the Connect Grant, we can continue to provide accounting and tax services to help clients better understand the benefits that they qualify for.”

Human Bean Coffee & Tea | Tandem Collaborative

“The support we received during this pandemic from the BIZ and Tandem has been so helpful to us as a business,” says Gina Wildeman, co-owner of Human Bean Coffee & Tea. “They really listened to our needs and provided us with tools that will be extremely valuable to our growth as a business.”

Downtown Winnipeg has plenty of experts – many of them the best in their fields. The Connect Grant connected member businesses in need of support with other downtown businesses that could provide it.

“We’re so excited to see Gina and Rom rise to the challenge of promoting their business and engaging their customers through social media,” says Larissa Peck, co-owner of Tandem Collaborative. “We’re super proud to partner with amazing business owners and help set them up on the right track.”

2 Kelly’s Café | Tétro

“Not only did this grant help my downtown business grow, but also introduced me to another amazing downtown business,” says Kelly Oxelgren, owner of 2 Kelly’s Cafe. “Connecting with neighbours builds the best communities… a community I’m so proud to be a part of.”

To help Downtown Winnipeg BIZ members make it through these challenging times, we created the Connect Grant, a program designed to help businesses build capacity and sustain the coming waves of COVID-19. Simply put, it supported TWO downtown businesses with ONE grant.

The Connect Grant partnered Tétro Design with 2 Kelly’s Cafe to create the restaurant’s very first website, a redesigned menu, and new signage.

“We found many commonalities with the businesses we were matched with,” says Mark Reimer of Tétro. “Many were small family-run businesses, like ours, being hit by COVID-19 and facing some significant challenges to stay afloat. The grant program was a win-win as it brought us work during the worst of our COVID-19 slowdown, and enabled us to help fellow small businesses who were struggling with the same challenges.”

To apply for the second round of grants, visit our Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Connect Grant page.