Winnipeg welcomes the world

(en anglais seulement)

In the past month, our city was once again named one of the top seven intelligent communities in the world. This prestigious ranking comes as no surprise, as multi-billion-dollar investments, public-private collaboration and private-sector optimism has climbed to new and unparallelled heights in recent years — all important qualities that highlight Winnipeg’s ingenuity and strong resolve.

National events like Grey Cup and FIFA in 2015 attracted tens of thousands of tourists who spent their money at local shops and restaurants, arts, cultural and entertainment attraction, and hospitality venues. The expansion of the convention centre and opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights have also helped to position Winnipeg as a place to do business, a place to learn and a place to experience. With all of this in mind, it is clear the greatest beneficiary of this newfound international buzz has been our downtown.

The economic engine of our city is our downtown — an area that is seeing re-emerging fashion and local food and drink establishments, an area that is attracting the best and brightest of innovators and entrepreneurs who help to create a smart city and support emerging sectors like information and communications and technology. There is no sign of this positive momentum stopping anytime soon.

Centrallia, which begins Wednesday, is a great example of the world’s brightest business people visiting our city to take part in this business exchange. Canada’s largest business-to-business matchmaking forum, created and hosted by the World Trade Centre Winnipeg, will attract hundreds of business leaders and delegates from more than 35 countries, including France, China, India and Mexico. These participants will get an opportunity to witness first-hand what we already know: that downtown Winnipeg is alive with prominent physical investments, heritage-quality buildings, friendly hospitality and community pride.

With more than 13 hotels downtown, the majority of the World Trade Centre’s delegates will call the city’s core their home for close to a week, contributing to the local economy by enjoying fanfare at local restaurants, watering holes and arts and cultural attractions, travelling to their destinations on foot, on transit or by bicycle.

This type of convention tourism benefits Winnipeg as a whole, but largely the downtown. Centrallia delegates spend their dollars on accommodations, transportation, food and beverage, recreation and entertainment, and shopping — services which are, for the most part, concentrated in the downtown. Convention venues like the convention centre, Canadian Museum for Human Rights and hotels also benefit from events like Centrallia, as the World Trade Centre Winnipeg pays for these fees as operating expenditures. Economic Development Winnipeg estimates that Centrallia alone results in more than $5 million in gross economic activity and a positive image of Winnipeg and its downtown to the rest of the world.

In addition to Centrallia, thousands of Liberal MPs and members of the party will get down to work, debate policy resolutions and vote on issues downtown at their biennial celebration beginning Thursday. Delegates of this conference will see for themselves the Prairie charm our city is becoming known for, with many looking to visit places like The Forks, located at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, and Winnipeg Art Gallery, home to the world’s largest collection of Inuit art, for the first time.

Immediately following Centrallia and the Liberal Biennial, just over 1,600 urbanists, politicians and policymakers will discuss civic affairs at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) convention. Joining Mayor Brian Bowman, who has been leading the charge for change in Winnipeg’s core, are the likes of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson. Delegates will immerse themselves in an urban laboratory, learning and exchanging innovative policy, unique to Winnipeg. Networking events and tours staged in the heart of our city will showcase its rich culture, restaurants and entertainment. An expected $2.25 million of economic impact is anticipated from FCM alone.

As the friendly and hardworking host of the downtown, we are ready to roll out the red carpet for these international delegates as they come here to meet and do business with Manitoba companies. We will keep downtown safe and clean for an accessible, convenient and comfortable stay. Businesses will decorate their storefronts with welcoming pageantry, food trucks and restaurants will literally pop up near convention venues and sites, and an outdoor farmers market and movie screening will serve as a reminder to delegates that Winnipeggers know how to capitalize on the first sign of warm weather.

We are ready to host our friends from afar, and our downtown is poised to compete. How will you welcome the delegates to Centrallia, Liberal Biennial and FCM to our city?