SmartBusiness

SmartBusiness is the Partnership’s

Business Retention and Expansion

(

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) program. It is designed to strengthen a community's ability to attract, grow and keep businesses, and has been internationally recognized as a highly effective tool for

economic development

.

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practitioners connect local businesses to the resources and services they need to be even more competitive at home, across the country, and internationally. Through in-depth consultation and intelligence gathering, they measure, evaluate, and develop strategies to address the needs of business.

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can help a business identify and overcome the barriers to growth, and provide a tailored solution to connect clients with the resources and services they need to succeed.

Through its

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operations, the SmartBusiness Team identifies and delineates two kinds of issues, company-common and company-specific issues. Most company-specific issues can be resolved through the Action Team; a customer service network of 43 organizations with an array of different skill and program suites.

However, the company-common issues are systemic, and cannot be feasibly resolved by interacting with a single company. By gathering business intelligence during its

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consultations and diagnosing these problems, the Partnership has been able to create a number of different programs. They are designed to work towards long-term, in-depth solutions. Below is a brief summary of some of the spin-off programs, why they emerged, and how they address the local issues.

Connector Program

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information can be used to help solve some of the widespread issues facing your local businesses. Like almost all major centres in Canada, the most ubiquitous problem facing business is the attraction and retention of skilled labour. The Connector Program emerged from a common observation of business owners; they were not actively looking to hire new staff, but would hire an employee if the right one came across their desk.

The Connector Program is a simple yet effective referral process that has resulted from the success of the

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Program. The Connector Program was created to help Halifax-based businesses, many of which are

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members, meet the large demand for skilled workers by connecting them to talented individuals from underrepresented groups. It works by introducing a new hire to a Connector, a well-connected member within their field of expertise, and having the prospect referred to several potential employers. The Connectee gets to build their professional network while being introduced to new job prospects.

This program allows newcomers and young and emerging talent to have a starting point and begin to get to know contacts in their field. They benefit from enhanced networking skills, a larger local and professional network in Halifax, and an improved job search.

For employers, or connectors, this is a way to explore the hidden talent in Halifax. Our labour force is depleting as professionals retire and recent graduates are choosing to move away. Making connections to skilled professionals who have worldwide ties and are ready to work gives businesses a competitive advantage in today’s economy.

Business Leaders’ Roundtable

Some issues are common among groups of businesses and are best approached from a focus-group style interaction. Business owners talk about their businesses the same way new parents talk about their children. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding operations, and it is difficult to talk to others who aren’t in the same position. The Business Leaders’ Roundtable is a way to let businesses work out company-common issues in a focus-group setting and speak candidly about their mutual problems. The program emerged when the Partnership noticed several owners with similar issues, but who were reticent to speak candidly to those who did not have experience running a company.

The Greater Halifax Partnership has created a peer-to-peer Roundtable program for Halifax-area businesses to tap into the experience and wisdom of their peers, on a regular basis. The Partnership intends to make our roundtable program available to the widest possible range of businesses in HRM.

HEADER{BENEFITS TO PARTICIPANTS INCLUDE:}HEADERLIST{Shared experience - Each participant draws on the experiences of fellow members who have faced similar situations in areas such as managing growth, finances and people.
  • Business improvement - Participation often changes ways in which members manage their businesses, helping them to grow successfully and take their company to the “next level”.
  • Learning across industries - Participants can draw on the experience of their peers in other industries, in addressing shared management challenges.
  • Mutual support - Over time, members form close ties of mutual trust and support with their fellow group members.}LIST

  • Training Programs - NSCC

    Sometimes very endemic issues arise from

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    , affecting specific companies and specific industries. In this case, it was noted that some industries needed workers with very specific and unexpected skills sets. These customized training programs were initiated when several companies mentioned that is was difficult to find drywallers. Unfortunately, they alone did not represent the financial or social stakes necessary to justify the investment in training opportunities. Collectively, these businesses represented a serious problem, as well as a financially viable market for specific sorts of workers.

    The Partnership worked with the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), to have a customized program designed for the growing drywall industry. The training program mirrors the reality of working in construction. In addition to learning about the industry, students learn first-hand experience tailored for on-the-job use.

    Another training program that the Partnership has helped create with NSCC is a metal working course designed to provide first-hand experience for students. This program was designed to help meet growing demands.

    Even simple things such as training can be difficult to organize for an organization. However, small groups of companies can create a viable market for training; so long as the shortage is recognized. The

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    program helps identify where shortages occur and provide educational institutions with competitive intelligence.

    Insureconomy Report

    Many problems in the business community can be sector-specific. Consultations with several insurance firms identified that many thought their activities were undervalued in the community. This provided the opportunity to promote their financial impact on the community at large, and the role they play in the local economy.

    The Insure Economy report confirmed that the insurance industry is a high-value and strategic part of the Nova Scotia economy with significant growth potential. Halifax has one of the highest concentrations of insurance industry firms and employment among urban centres across Canada, which supports a strong network of insurance brokers, claims adjusters and other related service providers across the province.

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    initiatives provide opportunities for competitive intelligence gathering. This information can be used to drive research and properly target economic analysis. It allows the

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    organization to show its value to industry, and provides government bodies with valuable information on its key assets.

    Conclusion

    Business Retention & Expansion

    presents an unparalleled ability to gather information on businesses in your community. However, some of the issues cannot be solved within the context of typical

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    processes. The information you gather can be valuable in diagnosing problems, creating solutions, and properly targeted programming. Many of the topics you hear about from businesses as part of

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    are actually major systemic issues. By investigating other businesses within the industry and exploring these business concerns in-depth, you can inform/create effective programming in your community.

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