New Programs & Services Launched at Downtown BIZ AGM


November 24, 2014


Downtown Winnipeg — 250 BIZ members and downtown stakeholders attended the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s 26th Annual General Meeting, to celebrate the incredible progress occurring in the heart of our city, and to highlight the BIZ’s achievements in 2014.

“This year has been a time of growth and of recommitment to our downtown,” says Stefano Grande, Executive Director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “The most important elements of what we do to improve our downtown relates to safety, cleanliness, marketing, and lots of events and activities that engage Winnipeggers. We measure our results, reassess and continue moving forward. We are passionate, relentless and love our downtown and the only thing we truly fear is not meeting the high expectations of our members and the public.”

Grande adds: “Our members understand that smart growth is critical to achieve our mandate of improving our downtown. A priority of the BIZ is to inspire and champion important issues like creating more density, prompting great urban design and mixed-use buildings, rapid transit, challenging urban sprawl and its impact on our city and downtown, and stimulating more residential development.”

The BIZ Management Board, staff and volunteers celebrated achievements fulfilled in 2014:

  • 25 Downtown Watch Ambassadors, 250 Watch volunteers, and 20 Metro Enviro-Clean Team staff, kept downtown clean and safe;
  • Garnered over 500 positive media stories, equating to earned media in the millions of dollars and improved perceptions of downtown;
  • Downtown Trends report launched, in collaboration with downtown agencies, to celebrate downtown statistics. The report is used extensively by investors, brokers, realtors, and the public. Indicators are updated monthly to keep pace with downtown’s fast moving momentum (;
  • Advocated during the recent civic election, making downtown a political. As a result, many downtown commitments were made – at our mayoral candidates’ forum and during coffee sessions and one-on-one meetings;
  • Ramped up social media efforts, with more than 25,000 followers on social sites and 200,000 annual unique website visitors. Facilitated op-eds and tours with stakeholders/general public to change negative perceptions;
  • 8 public expeditions saw hundreds of Winnipeggers exploring downtown restaurants and landmarks;
  • Attracted thousands of visitors to BIZ events like Downtown Cinema, Farmers’ Market, and Downtown Concert Series;
  • Community Homeless Assistance Team (CHAT) continued to connect the chronically homeless with housing and supports. The BIZ is eager to begin work with Mayor Bowman, who committed 5 additional CHAT staff; and
  • 4th annual CEO Sleepout raised $200,000 to employ city’s homeless.

New initiatives proposed for 2015:

  • Launch downtown marketing campaign – encouraging people to #finditdowntown. The BIZ will reward Winnipeggers with prizes for every photo posted on social media. 3,000 key chains will give lucky Winnipeggers first-dibs access to unique discounts and experiences from participating businesses;
  • Add 2 additional front line staff to meet goal of a 24/7 cleaning program, with increased weekend and evening cleanliness in key areas like SHED and along Portage Avenue;
  • Encourage businesses to prioritize good design through competitions like Commerce Design Winnipeg and the Façade Improvement Program;
  • Create a nocturnal downtown, by attracting more evening events and enhancing safety and cleanliness;
  • Strengthen community outreach;
  • Attract retail downtown through Retail Recruitment Strategy;
  • Continue with Launch It, an initiative that encourages young entrepreneurs and small business owners to invest in downtown. This program provides entrepreneurs with rent-free space, a clearinghouse of relevant entrepreneurial resources and tools, connection to friendly downtown brokers/realtors, and tours of downtown space opportunities;
  • Grow the Concierge Education and Awareness Program, which educates our front line staff and hotel concierge to be true ambassadors of the downtown, giving them the resources and information they need to keep downtown up front and centre;
  • Continue with the Urban Art Gallery, an initiative that displays artworks in vacant windows and on construction sites;
  • Bridge the ideas, creativity, and energy of stakeholders to form a coordinated community plan to deal with socio-economic challenges on North Main Street; and
  • Inaugurate the Downtown BIZ’s Aboriginal Peoples’ Advisory Committee, which includes: Lisa Meeches, Gloria Spence, Joe Thompson, Damon Johnston, and Sharon Redsky.

The BIZ also revealed its 10th annual Achievement Award recipients for 2014:

  • Downtown Party of the Year – Table for 1,200 (Storefront MB & 5468796 Architecture)
  • Timeless Classic – V.J.’s Drive Inn
  • Best New Business (Restaurant) – Carbone Coal Fired Pizza
  • Reinvestment of the Year (Hotel Upgrade) – Delta Winnipeg Hotel
  • Hip Downtown Transformation – The Garrick Hotel
  • In Memory of a Good Friend and Dedicated Officer to the Downtown – The Late Jim Poole
  • Downtown Farmers’ Market (Best New Reason to Explore Downtown) – Margo Malabar, Farmers’ Market Coordinator
  • Great Downtown People – Turning Leaf Volunteers
  • Great Downtown Contribution – Winnipeg Trolley Company

Download the BIZ’s 2014 Annual Report and/or Strategic Plan for 2014-2016 here.
– 30 –

For more information:
Jason Syvixay
Managing Director
Ph: (204) 958-4635;