Hopkins taking medical leave
The Regina & District Chamber of Commerce announced on Jan. 10 that current CEO John Hopkins will be taking a medical leave of absence from his role.
“It is essential that we fully support John during his courageous battle against cancer,” said Collin Pullar, Chair of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce board of directors. “John has been a strong advocate for local business and the Regina community for over 20 years, it’s now time for us to be there for him.”
Hopkins has been battling prostate cancer, and will taking the time away for medical care.
“It’s in my best interest that I take some time away from the office to focus on my health,” John Hopkins said. “I am very proud of the many accomplishments and successes we shared together, including the wastewater treatment plant and the new Mosaic Stadium. Together, we have made a positive and lasting impact on the local economy and improved the quality of life for many Regina families.”
An interim CEO will be named to handle day-to-day operations in Hopkins’ absence.
Vendasta acquires Matchcraft
Saskatoon-based tech firm Vendasta announced on Jan. 11 that it has acquired Matchcraft from Advance Local. Matchcraft, a software company, offers digital and social media advertising products for digital marketing firms and resellers. The company was founded in 1998 and works in 22 countries.
“MatchCraft and Vendasta have been longtime friends, and we’re fortunate to have them join the Vendasta team,” said Vendasta CEO Brendan King. “This partnership will bring MatchCraft’s enterprise-level technology to all our channel partners, allowing them to have a superior technology stack previously only available to enterprise-level organizations. We know MatchCraft exceeds expectations and we hear it from many of their partners—who happen to be our partners, too.”
Matchcraft will continue to serve its clients and partners as it does today, and the companies have plans for further integration in 2022.
“Having worked closely with Vendasta for many years it is evident that their drive to enable local businesses to succeed closely aligns with MatchCraft’s own values and mission,” said MatchCraft CEO Sandy Lohr. “We have found an excellent new home in Vendasta, one that will allow us to continue our focus on innovation, integrity in the marketplace, and solutions that foster growth.”
This news comes on the heels of another acquisition by Vendasta, who recently acquired CalendarHero.
PrairiesCan funds $310,000 for Saskatchewan and Manitoba chambers to collect real-time business insights
On Jan. 12, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce (SCC) hosted a virtual information session with the honourable Daniel Vandal, minister of Northern Affairs and minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor).
During which, Vandal, SCC, and the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC) announced $310,000 in funding from PrairiesCan to create and collect real-time business insights in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Through InputSask in Saskatchewan and MBPulse in Manitoba, chamber members now have access to an all-in-1 survey platform and community hub. The platform has the combined features of SurveyMonkey and a Facebook group page with the capacity for discussion and focus groups, and communication within the hub.
Members will engage and provide their input on subjects like the economic landscape, government policy and regulations, and other concerns or opportunities businesses are facing in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Data gathered through MBPulse and InputSask will then be contextualized and shared with the government and back to participating users. This data will also inform the chambers’ advocacy efforts and policy processes.
“Belonging to MBPulse and InputSask allows us to engage with members about topics they care about with respect to business and our provincial economies. We share input back with you so you have a line of sight on the collective perspective in our provinces – intelligence that can help you make data-driven decisions about your business,” Steve McLellan, CEO of the SCC says.
“We are thankful for Prairies Economic Development Canada’s support in launching these important programs.”
Protein Industries Canada announces investment in skills training
Jan. 12 saw another investment announcement by Protein Industries Canada (PIC) into a project for reskilling workers to increase employment for under-represented populations, and to address labour shortage issues.
Palette Skills and the University of Saskatchewan, along with Enterprise and Machine Learning Initiative (EMILI) and Economic Development Regina, are partnering for the program’s development. A pilot program will see 50 workers trained and placed into high-demand positions in the agrifood sector. If successful, the program will be scaled across the Prairies.
“The growth of Canada’s plant-based food and ingredient ecosystem is dependent on having the people with the right skills and talents,” said Bill Greuel, Protein Industries Canada CEO. “This program will help engage those not familiar with our sector, including under-represented groups, and provide them with some of the most in-demand skills, so they can become a part of this growing and exciting sector, providing SMEs with the employees they need to scale-up and meet the growing demand for Canada’s plant-based food and ingredients.”
The program will receive a total of $1.08 million, with $1.01 million from PIC, with the remainder coming from the program partners.
Construction investment grows
Statistics Canada announced on Jan. 13 that the province has seen a 16.8 per cent increase in construction investment, from November 2020 to November 2021. Saskatchewan also saw a 10.6 per cent increase in investment in building construction from October 2021 to November 2021. The total value of building construction investment in Saskatchewan was $344 million.
SREDA call for board of directors
Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) is seeking expressions of interest for the organization’s board of directors. SREDA is seeking up to three directors with experience in natural resources, construction development, Indigenous knowledge, and owning/operating a business.
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