Entries in entrepreneurship (7)


Policy Forum 2014: Creating a cohesive culture of entrepreneurial success

How to channel the energy of a group of people dedicated to their community is the challenge we face in Peterborough.  There is no doubt of the existing enthusiasm and passion for Peterborough.  A recent forum held by the Young Professionals Group (YPG) of the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce with 45 business and community leaders proved that fact.  The group drew the conclusion that the main goal of forums such as this is to bring some or many of the ideas to fruition.  

The forum, held at the Holiday Inn Peterborough Waterfront, was based on a Don Tapscott article published in the Toronto Star on Friday, October 17, 2014.  In the article Tapscott, who is also the Chancellor of Trent University, a best-selling author and considered one of the leading thought leaders in the World, identified seven key areas to improve the functionality of a municipality.  Those areas are: 

  1. Promoting Entrepreneurship to Achieve Prosperity 
  2. Open Government
  3. Turning Public Safety Inside Out
  4. Rethinking Transportation 
  5. Creating a Sustainable City
  6. Transforming Social Services
  7. Reinventing Local Democracy

Each table at the YPG Policy Forum consisted of six or seven people including a table lead to guide discussion. Each table wrote down their ideas and then presented them to the entire room. There was also opportunity for some overall comments before closing for the evening.  Over the next several weeks we’ll detail those discussions for you, identify what is currently happening in those seven areas and opportunities for action.  

This is a fluid political time in Peterborough’s history with a new term of city and county council getting underway, a recent provincial election that saw the province move from a minority government to a majority government, and a general election slated for next year that will see the number of ridings increase across the country, including several new ones for the Peterborough area.  

From an economic standpoint, this is a geographical area evolving from more than a century of large manufacturing to a community that has a more diverse economic base with a more advanced manufacturing core.  As a community, we are also working to decipher employment patterns that have emerged showing a 6% swing in unemployment rates from spring to fall each year.  While one can rightly question the accuracy
of the numbers, Chamber community partner, Peterborough Economic Development (PED) has identified through their strategic planning process that one possible way to temper the unemployment rate swing is to focus and foster a culture of entrepreneurship.  It makes sense, as the entrepreneurial spirit is the backbone of Peterborough and all the other communities in Ontario.  It is the backbone of the Chamber of Commerce, which gives those entrepreneurs a voice to government and their communities.  Economists across the country, including those at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, have identified that the majority of job creation in the next five years is going to happen through companies with five employees or less.  

With an eye on entrepreneurship, here is what came of the roundtable discussion with table lead, local entrepreneur and PED Board Member Michael Skinner.  

Four trends surfaced during this discussion:

  1. Attitude
  2. Collaboration
  3. Youth 
  4. Servicing Entrepreneurs


The community must realize that the chance of a large company descending on Peterborough with hundreds of jobs waiting to be filled is not likely to happen. From this realization, the attitude of the entire area can then focus on entrepreneurship. The group also identified a need for a more positive attitude to partnering with other groups to breakdown silos, and the willingness to change and adapt to the times. Ultimately, the group reiterated the call that fostering entrepreneurship can lead to solutions for economic challenges.


The group revealed that next week there will be a youth entrepreneurship funding announcement for Trent & Fleming.  The Cube at the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster (GPIC) is connecting resources at Trent, within the community through the Peterborough Region Angel Network (PRAN) and established businesses and budding entrepreneurs.  The group identified the need for better connection between MPs and MPPs and business, and between agencies with any ties to the entrepreneurial world. 

To that point, the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is currently starting the planning process for a Business Summit in 2015 with a focus on the entrepreneur.  


From their notes the group has identified this demographic as a resource to be tapped.  Not only will there be the funding announcement mentioned above, but through a dedicated effort to encouraging entrepreneurship there is opportunity to have Trent and Fleming students choose Peterborough to start their business instead of taking their education and leaving the area.  There is more opportunity for mentoring, more opportunity for groups such as Junior Achievement (JA) to reach into high schools and infuse students of all ages with the entrepreneurial bug.  Trent University has also included youth entrepreneurship as a pillar of its strategic plan.  With Fleming College and Trent University both looking to attract international students, the Conference Board of Canada study that shows Peterborough has the highest number of immigrant entrepreneurs in the county is a valuable resource to use as a draw to schools and the Peterborough area. 

Servicing Entrepreneurs:

To create this culture of entrepreneurship the table discussion zeroed in on the importance of centralizing all information related to the sector.  They agree it could be a virtual space, a physical space, a combination or both.  They would like to see a centralized calendar for networking and mentoring events as they believe networking and mentoring are “essential to the entrepreneurial formula.” Centralization of the many planning documents that would affect a person looking to start a business was also on the minds of the group. The current host of plans is available on the City of Peterborough website at the following address: http://www.peterborough.ca/Business/Studies.htm. The group would also like to see more encouragement of entrepreneurs in all areas of Peterborough, from downtown to the Lansdowne and Chemong business corridors. They identified the Bears' Lair competition as a program that is currently highlighting new and budding entrepreneurs.  The Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) was also identified as a resource for entrepreneurs to tap into. 

Interestingly enough, the end vision on entrepreneurship has deep roots in what is currently happening in the Peterborough area. We are seeing collaboration between many of the groups mentioned (the Chamber, Trent, Fleming, PED, GPIC, Junior Achievement, CFDC), however, the time is right for a more coordinated and defined strategy - a strategy that presents a united front, reinforcing the commitment to entrepreneurship success.   

Next week: Open Government and Reinventing Local Democracy.  

Comment through the “Peterborough Chamber” group of LinkedIn. 


Connecting the dots to a prosperous Peterborough

Chancellor of Trent University, professor and author Don Tapscott wrote an article recently for the Toronto Star (Friday, October 17, 2014) about the success in Guelph and the re-imagined role of municipal government.  Here we will take a look at the principles and highlight what Peterborough already has in place and what areas are in need of attention. 


1. Promoting Entrepreneurship to Achieve Prosperity

In the Toronto Star article Tapscott says, “when it comes to jobs, entrepreneurship is key, as close to 80 per cent of new jobs come from companies five years old or less, and technology enables little companies to have the capabilities of big companies.”

He goes on to tell us about Innovation Guelph which “since launching in 2010 has coached more than 500 companies and helped channel more than $12 million into client companies.”  

In Peterborough:
There are actually two regional entities in the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster (GPIC) and Peterborough Economic Development’s Business Advisory Centre.   The Innovation Cluster mandate is “to drive 21st century technology-based, innovation-driven, and entrepreneurship-led economic growth and high-tech job creation by supporting innovation, entrepreneurship, commercialization and new company formation & growth.”  It recently developed “The Cube” which is a technology business incubator that puts entrepreneurs into direct contact with experts who can help them commercialize their ideas.  

In the 2013 Annual Report from Peterborough Economic Development, the Business Advisory Centre is credited with facilitating 64 new start-ups.  The Centre offers “entrepreneurs various tools from registration to guidance from business experts to access to resources or a quiet place to work.”   

2.  Open Government

Here Tapscott relays what the City of Guelph has accomplished from adopting a plan developed by engaged citizens, local business and community stakeholders to including citizens in government decision making to making the new councillor orientation handbook available as a user guide to local government - The Guelph User Guide

In Peterborough:
The City of Peterborough has 10 Advisory Committees, eight of which has citizen appointees.  In the County there are also 10 Advisory Committees and citizen appointees.  

A great idea is publishing the new councillor user guide as a general user guide to local government.  Educating the public on how government works and the processes it follows allows for residents to feel included.  

3. Turning Public Safety Inside Out

Guelph has launched a group called “Guelph Enterprise” which is a model for innovation in human services.  The thinking behind the group is that great policing isn’t the only solution, strong health care, education and social services need to work together with an eye to freeing up resources and capacity for stretched service providers. 

In Peterborough:

The Peterborough Lakefield Police Service has identified this as a major stumbling block.  One Inspector is interested in pulling together a group that sounds very much like “Guelph Enterprise”.    The following was printed in a Voice of Business article on Thursday, October 2, 2014:  

The Chamber is wholeheartedly in favour of a working group to come up with ideas to improve the city for all residents, as suggested by Inspector Dan Smith. “There are no simple solutions and we all must work collaboratively to deal with these problems,” he stated in an email. “Every enforcement initiative we undertake just displaces the activity to another location and doesn't provide a permanent solution.  I would like to form a working group of interested persons to see if we can come up with some ideas.”  

4. Rethinking Transportation

When it came to transportation Tapscott commended Guelph for its cycling master plan including: 100 kilometres of bike lanes and another 110 in various stages of approval, affordable bus pass program, Guelph Central Station Transit Hub, and off-road trails. 

In Peterborough:
“Peterborough’s environment; green space, trails and parks” were identified as one of the best things about 

Peterborough in the 2014 Vital Signs document.

Transportation in general was one of the major issues of the 2014 Municipal Election campaign.  The Peterborough City County Health Unit (PCCHU) report on Active Transportation released last month acknowledges that active transportation rates are on the rise in the region.  The report reflects how Peterborough moves and the impact of transportation choices.

The City presently has 58 kilometres of cycling facilities. The facilities include off-road multi-use trails, trails beside the road and on-road bike lanes. The proposed cycling network calls for an additional 83 km of on-road and 48 km of off-road cycling facilities. The cost of these projects is estimated at $24-33 million and they are expected to be implemented between 2012 and 2031. (PCCHU Report: Active Transportation)

The City of Peterborough passed a new Transportation Master Plan in 2012 that carries with it the following introduction:

“Peterborough’s 2012 Transportation Plan was initiated as an update of the 2002 Comprehensive Transportation Plan. The two plans chart a similar course in terms of policy direction. However, the 2012 Transportation Plan can be characterized as requiring a substantially smaller road capital program to support it, and having a greater emphasis on active transportation.”

The 187 page “Transportation Master Plan” report can be found at peterborough.ca

5. Creating a Sustainable City

In this section, Tapscott talks about water, energy and waste diversion measures in Guelph and the successes that community has seen in those areas.

In Peterborough: 

Water Usage:
“In 2013, the Water Treatment Plant produced an average of almost 32,300,000 litres of water per day. That supplies all the needs of the city, including commercial, industrial, institutional and residential uses,” says Wayne Stiver, Vice President of the Water Utility for Peterborough.  “An average person in the City uses about 230 litres of water per day and residential water use accounts for about 56% of the total City demand." 

In response to the affect of the new water meter program, Stiver says, "we are estimating that our customers will use 10 to 15% less water on average and this is based solely upon our consultant's
estimate. We will need several years of data to determine the effects as weather can also play a huge part on water demand. We've had two fairly wet summers in a row and the outdoor water use has been below average in 2013 and 2014."

Energy Mix:
The City of Peterborough through Peterborough Utilities Inc has six power generation stations, generating a total of 33.5 megawatts currently.  An upgrade for another 6 megawatts is in the works.  The mix of generation includes hydro-electric, solar, and landfill gas. 

In the 2013 Vital Signs Report, recycling and composting rates show 55% of household waste was diverted from landfill in 2012 in the City of Peterborough and 44% was diverted in the County of Peterborough.  Both numbers are above comparable city and regional averages.

From the business community perspective, the business plan for corporate social responsibility (CSR) is there. In January of 2013, Sustainable Peterborough hosted author Bob Willard who explained that making green choices could improve your bottom line by between 51 and 81%.  Several chamber members presented at the event and said that even though they made green changes for different reasons the end result is an improvement on their triple bottom line (profit, planet and people).  Find the article under News/Voice of Business/January 17, 2014 on the Chamber website peterboroughchamber.ca

6. Transforming Social Services

“The digital revolution enables cities to better integrate social services, reducing cost and improving value,” says Don Tapscott in the Toronto Star article. 

Guelph formed the Guelph Wellbeing Leadership Group to use the Canadian Index of Wellbeing to assess overall well-being and pool resources inside and outside government to find solutions.

In Peterborough: 

The Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough has completed two Vital Signs Reports in 2013 and 2014.  This is essentially an overall snapshot of the well-being of our community.  

The next step would be to take the information gathered in Vital Signs and assess how effective strategies and solutions can be found.   

7. Reinventing Local Democracy

In this last point, Tapscott says Guelph is well on its way to shifting the relationship between government and citizens from “us vs. them” to “we’re in this together”, given the community involvement in the above list. 

In Peterborough: 

The new city council has four new members.  Each council member has a passion for Peterborough and ideas on how to make Peterborough it’s most vibrant and enticing self.   There will be budgets and issues at hand to be dealt with soon enough, but at this moment as the new council settles in to their posts it feels like a crossroads with opportunity stretching out in either direction. 

Perhaps it’s time to take the “we’re in this together” vibe touted in various ways during the election campaign to the next level. 

In the lobbying world there is a saying about how more can be done if groups have “skin in the game” or some type of invested interest in the outcome of an issue.  We all have skin in this game and the opportunity to step up our game has never been greater.  

Join us for more discussion on these topics at the “Connecting the Dots” Policy Forum on Thursday, November 27, 2014 at the Holiday Inn Peterborough Waterfront from 5:30pm – 8:00pm. 

Comment through the “Peterborough Chamber” group of LinkedIn. 

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