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Atlantic small businesses face challenges, find solutions, welcome local support | Local-Business | Business

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Small Business Week starts Sunday and it will be unlike just about any other. It’s been a rollercoaster year for business owners who were forced to adjust their expectations in the face of a wave of economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Back in April, when Atlantic Canada was only a few weeks into a shutdown designed to limit the coronavirus’ spread, the outlook was dire for small businesses. A survey at the time from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found 40 per cent of small businesses worried they would go under.

Since then, there has been a steady stream of challenges. An easing of public health restrictions and the creation of the Atlantic bubble gave some relief. So did federal government programs to help cover employee wages and offer rent relief. Still, consumer confidence never fully bounced back and for businesses that traditionally relied on tourists from outside Atlantic Canada, 2020 has been hard to stomach.

With winter on the horizon, many small business owners will be taking a serious look at what their post-Christmas plans are.

To get a clearer read on the challenges small businesses face and how some have managed to survive or even grow, SaltWire Network asked the leaders of a few East Coast business groups five questions about them and their members. First among them: what were the greatest challenges this year?

Patrick Sullivan — Halifax Chamber of Commerce

Halifax Chamber of Commerce president Patrick Sullivan. — CONTRIBUTED  - Contributed
Halifax Chamber of Commerce president Patrick Sullivan. — CONTRIBUTED – Contributed

Fear of the Andrew unknown remains a big challenge for businesses according to Patrick Sullivan, president of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. He said the lack of a clear plan from Nova Scotia’s health department in the event of a second wave of the pandemic leaves business in the dark.

As it stands, he said they are already hampered by public health restrictions on the size of gatherings, and he questions whether those restrictions are still warranted.

“Many businesses cannot survive with the gathering restrictions placed on their operations in a time when Nova Scotia has less cases than New Zealand,” he said.

The tourism, hospitality and travel sector is at risk of collapsing without further support, Sullivan said, with many jobs hanging on by a thread.

What about successes? Sullivan says the initiative businesses have shown to create an online presence is promising, adding those that made the shift or had already done so had an easier time navigating the lockdown.

He also appreciated the efforts of businesses willing to pivot and adapt, citing Symplicity Designs purchase of United Sign, which now builds facemasks, as a good example. Symplicity also developed a new company, Marked Safe, to assist businesses looking to reopen and stay open.

Elsewhere, the Good Robot Brewing Company took advantage of an interest-free loan from the federal government program to start a canning line. Wine bar Obladee delivered charcuterie boards to homes and private liquor store Bishop’s Cellar also ventured into home delivery.

Restaurants were under immense pressure to bounce back when they reopened to the public. — Chronicle Herald file photo - File Photo
Restaurants were under immense pressure to bounce back when they reopened to the public. — Chronicle Herald file photo – File Photo

Sullivan wants the provincial government to offer a clear plan on how the next lockdown will be implemented to give businesses a chance to prepare. He would also like to see a further easing of interprovincial trade barriers and public health restrictions while the number of cases of coronavirus remains low. Sullivan said downtown cores hurt by people working from home, need more support, and he would love to see a change in messaging from government.

“There is still too much fear in the communication,” he said. “We are in one of the safest locations in the world. Can we not encourage people to shop, dine and return to their offices?”

As for the general public, he would like to see more people latch on to buying local and more workers back in their offices, so long as they can comply with public health guidelines.

And what has surprised Sullivan? He likes the collaboration happening among local businesses and with government, noting there’s been a quick turnaround on policy and support programming.

AnnMarie Boudreau — St. John’s Board of Trade

St. John’s Board of Trade CEO AnnMarie Boudreau. — CONTRIBUTED - Contributed
St. John’s Board of Trade CEO AnnMarie Boudreau. — CONTRIBUTED – Contributed

AnnMarie Boudreau has no trouble listing off challenges her business community has faced. The CEO of the St. John’s Board of Trade said survival in general has been a major challenge, with revenue plummeting, owners scrambling to navigate the complexities of government support programs, a lot of time spent dealing with public health measures and protocols and uncertainty abound in efforts to keep staff employed and safe.

That said, Boudreau gives credit to local businesses for being resourceful and creative in finding ways to get through these difficult months.

“We have seen businesses build websites overnight to allow customers to order products for safe delivery or pick-up,” she said. “They have used social media to build their brands, share content, and connect with customers in authentic and profitable ways.”

She offered a specific shout-out to O’Brien’s Whale and Bird Tours and Gatherall’s Puffin and Whale Watch. The rival boat tour companies in Bay Bulls — located a 30-minute drive from downtown St. Johns — decided to join forces this year, recognizing it made more sense to team up than compete against each other this year.

From government, Boudreau wants open ears and flexibility.

“Our entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of time in assessing many decisions that directly impact their success or failure, and we need government to align with that pace,” she said. “Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance is a great example. Since its launch, business owners haven’t been able to take advantage, as it was directed at landlords. Just recently, this program was revised so that tenants can directly apply. Sadly, it is too late to help some.”

Engagement from the general public is a key factor when it comes to the future of businesses. With stressful times in the rear view mirror and ahead, Boudreau said people cannot lose sight of the fact they hold power as a consumer, voter and advocate.

“They are critically important in both setting agendas and making things happen. Our community, including businesses and the public, is stronger when we are all informed and engaged.”

Boudreau was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly businesses and people in general could adapt to changing times, whether it was through different delivery models to serve customers, or the customers themselves adjusting to the new ways to purchase and receive products. She also found it remarkable how so many corporate offices moved to a work-from-home model almost overnight.

“Under more controlled circumstances, it would have taken years for that shift to happen,” she said. “Again, I believe it’s a testament to what we can accomplish when we work together and support each other.”

Colin Younker — Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce

Colin Younker is the president of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce. — CONTRIBUTED - Contributed
Colin Younker is the president of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce. — CONTRIBUTED – Contributed

Like Sullivan, Colin Younker cites the prevalence of unknowns as a big challenge for local businesses. The president of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce said the tourism sector, vital to Prince Edward Island’s economy, is banking on a 2021 season where travellers from outside the Atlantic bubble can safely return to the island. With so many places experiencing a second wave of the virus, he admits that’s far from certain.

Additionally, he’s concerned about consumer confidence.

“While there was a strong bounce-back in economic activity in May and June, recovery has slowed over the summer,” said Younker, owner of the Spa Total Fitness Centre and Little Caesars franchises in Charlottetown and Summerside. “An increase in COVID-19 cases in the Maritimes is having a direct impact on consumer spending. Local businesses are more than ever in competition with big online machines like Amazon. That’s a tough battle when consumers are staying home more and shopping from home more.”

The work-from-home transition has also hurt local businesses, Younker said, with those that traditionally serve office workers taking a big revenue hit.

However, Younker credits the resiliency and creativity of businesses that find ways to achieve some success.

“Lobster on the Wharf Restaurant in Charlottetown developed the PEI Seafood Box, which allowed PEI famous seafood to be shipped worldwide,” he said. “JEMS Boutique had its best sales month during the closure when they moved their entire store online in a matter of a few days. Chef Michael Smith, owner of the Inn at Bay Fortune, introduced Picnic Days to maximize his foodservice seating using the beautiful outdoor setting at his property in Fortune Bay.

“There are many examples of new product developments, the adaptation of space, and online offerings that have helped businesses survive and thrive through the pandemic.”

Like Boudreau, Younker wants government to hear what businesses have to say when it comes to policy decisions, adding they’ve learned a lot over the last seven months and can help “ensure that a business lens is applied in developing policies and programs.”

He would encourage people to buy local as much as they can, as the owners need this support now more than ever. Younker said the upcoming holiday season could be very helpful if people consider purchasing gifts and other seasonal supplies locally.

As for what’s surprised him, Younker is impressed to see people in the local business community find ways to support each other during a difficult time.

“Within the Chamber of Commerce, we’ve had members who have fared well during the pandemic offer to pay the membership fees for businesses who are struggling,” he said. “While not everyone has been impacted in the same way, there’s an appreciation for what our hardest-hit sectors are going through.”

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Meta Growth Shareholders Overwhelmingly Approve Transformational Business Combination with High Tide to Create Canada’s Largest Cannabis Retailer

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TORONTO, Oct. 28, 2020 /CNW/ – Meta Growth Corp. (TSXV: META) (“META” or the “Company”) and High Tide Inc. (CSE: HITI) (OTCQB: HITIF) (Frankfurt: 2LY) (“High Tide”) are pleased to announce that, at the special meeting of shareholders of META held yesterday (the “Meeting”), the shareholders of META voted in favour of a special resolution to approve the previously announced proposed business combination pursuant to which High Tide will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of META (“META Shares”) by way of a plan of arrangement under the Business Corporations Act (Alberta) (the “Arrangement”), as further described in the joint news release issued by META and High Tide on August 21, 2020. The Arrangement required approval by 66 ⅔% of the votes cast by META shareholders present in person or represented by proxy at the Meeting.

The Arrangement will create:

  • Canada’s Largest Cannabis Retailer with $1481 million in Annualized Revenue
  • Annual Cost and Operational Synergies of Approximately $8 million to $9 million
  • A strong Balance Sheet to Support Growth

A total of 102,113,758 META Shares, representing approximately 43.1% of the outstanding META Shares, were represented in person or by proxy at the Meeting. Of the votes cast with respect to the Arrangement, an aggregate of 102,063,111 META Shares were voted in favour of the Arrangement, representing approximately 99.95% of the votes cast on the resolution approving the Arrangement.

It is expected that META will apply for a final order from the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in respect of the Arrangement on October 28, 2020. Completion of the Arrangement remains subject to receipt of required regulatory and court approvals and other customary closing conditions, which are set out in the arrangement agreement between META and High Tide dated August 20, 2020, a copy of which can be found on the SEDAR profiles of META and High Tide at www.sedar.com. Assuming that the conditions to closing of the Arrangement are satisfied or waived, it is anticipated that the Arrangement will be completed on or before the end of November. Further information about the Arrangement is set forth in the materials prepared by META in respect of the Meeting, which were mailed to META shareholders and filed under META’s profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

About META

META is a leader in secure, safe and responsible access to legal recreational cannabis in Canada. Through its Canada-wide network of Meta Cannabis Co.™, Meta Cannabis Supply Co™ and NewLeaf Cannabis™ recreational cannabis retail stores, META enables the public to gain knowledgeable access to Canada’s network of authorized Licensed Producers of cannabis. META is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange (“TSXV”) under the symbol (TSXV: META).

About High Tide

High Tide is a retail-focused cannabis company enhanced by the manufacturing and distribution of cannabis lifestyle accessories. Its premier Canadian retail brand Canna Cabana spans 34 locations in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan, with additional locations under development across Canada. High Tide has been serving cannabis consumers for over a decade through its numerous lifestyle accessory enterprises including eCommerce platforms Grasscity.com and CBDcity.com, lifestyle and licensed entertainment brand manufacturer Famous Brandz, and its wholesale distribution divisions RGR Canada Inc. and Valiant Distribution.

High Tide’s strategy as a parent company is to extend and strengthen its integrated value chain, while providing a complete customer experience and maximizing shareholder value. Key industry investors in High Tide include Aphria Inc. (TSX:APHA) (NYSE:APHA) and Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NYSE:ACB) (TSX:ACB).

Forward Looking Statements

Neither the Canadian Securities Exchange (“CSE”) nor its Market Regulator (as that term is defined in the policies of the CSE), accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. Neither the TSXV nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSXV) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Certain information in this news release constitutes forward-looking statements under applicable securities laws. Any statements that are contained in this news release that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are often identified by terms such as “may”, “should”, “anticipate”, “expect”, “potential”, “believe”, “intend” or the negative of these terms and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements in this news release include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to anticipated revenue, operational and annual cost synergies of approximately $8 million to $9 million, receipt of regulatory and court approvals, the completion of any capital project or expansions, the anticipated timing for closing of the Arrangement and the satisfaction of closing conditions of the Arrangement, including, without limitation, obtaining applicable regulatory approvals and a final order from the Court of Queens Bench of Alberta. In particular, there can be no assurance that the Transaction will be completed. Forward looking statements are based on certain assumptions regarding High Tide and META, including expected growth, results of operations, performance, industry trends and growth opportunities. While High Tide and META consider these assumptions to be reasonable, based on information currently available, they may prove to be incorrect. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements also necessarily involve known and unknown risks, including, without limitation, risks associated with general economic conditions; adverse industry events; marketing costs; loss of markets; future legislative and regulatory developments involving the retail cannabis markets; inability to access sufficient capital from internal and external sources, and/or inability to access sufficient capital on favourable terms; the retail cannabis industries generally; income tax and regulatory matters; the ability of High Tide and META to implement their business strategies; competition; crop failure/conditions; currency and interest rate fluctuations and other risks.

Readers are cautioned that the foregoing list is not exhaustive. Readers are further cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements as there can be no assurance that the plans, intentions or expectations upon which they are placed will occur. Such information, although considered reasonable by management at the time of preparation, may prove to be incorrect and actual results may differ materially from those anticipated.

Forward-looking statements contained in this news release are expressly qualified by this cautionary statement and reflect our expectations as of the date hereof, and thus are subject to change thereafter. High Tide and META disclaim any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

_________________________

1 Annualized based on META and HITI’s most recent publicly reported quarters

SOURCE Meta Growth Corp.

For further information: Meta Growth, Mark Goliger, Chief Executive Officer, Meta Growth, Tel: 647-689-6382, [email protected]; High Tide, Jess Moran, Tel: 519-494-5379, [email protected]

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Harley-Davidson is getting into the electric bicycle business – TechCrunch

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Harley-Davidson has spun out a new business dedicated to electric bicycles and plans to bring its first line of products to market in spring 2021.

The new business called Serial 1 Cycle Company started as a project within the motorcycle manufacturer’s product development center. The name comes from “Serial Number One,” the nickname for Harley-Davidson’s oldest known motorcycle.

The pedal assist electric bicycle company is being launched amid a booming ebike industry fueled by growing demand in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global eBicycle market was estimated to be over $15 billion in 2019 and projected to grow at an annual rate of more than 6% from 2020 to 2025, according to Harley-Davidson.

The new Harley-Davidson brand Serial 1 didn’t provide performance details or other specs of its new line of electric bike products. However, the company did release several photos of its first model.

Harley-Davidson-ebike

Image Credits: Harley-Davidson

The new business launch also comes at a critical time for the Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer, which has seen its sales slow as its core customer base ages out of its motorcycles.

In July, Harley-Davidson cut 700 jobs from its global operations as part of an internally branded restructuring plan called “The Rewire.” The plan, which Harley-Davidson chairman, president and CEO Jochen Zeitz first spoke about in the company’s first-quarter earnings call back in April, followed the launch of the company’s first production electric motorcycle the Livewire.

“The formation of Serial 1 allows Harley-Davidson to play a key role in this mobility revolution while allowing Serial 1 to focus exclusively on the eBicycle customer and deliver an unmatched riding experience rooted in freedom and adventure,” Aaron Frank, the new company’s brand director said in a statement.

Harley-Davidson said Jason Huntsman is president of Serial 1 Cycle. The rest of the executive team includes Ben Lund, who is vice president of product development and Hannah Altenburg as lead brand marketing specialist.

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Greater Vernon businesses honoured for excellence – Vernon Morning Star

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Businesses in the Vernon area received some well-earned accolades last week.

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce announced its 2020 Business Excellence Award winners Friday night, with awards handed out in 12 categories during a virtual gala.

“It was an exciting evening as the winner in each category was announced, and this year was truly a celebration of entrepreneurial spirit, vision and thinking outside of the box as our businesses and non-profit agencies navigate the challenges created by the pandemic,” said Krystin Kempton, Greater Vernon Chamber president.

The winners of the 2020 Business Excellence Awards are:

  • Business of the Year sponsored by Valley First: The Med

(Honourable mention: Intermezzo Restaurant & Wine Cellar, Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery)

  • People’s Choice Award sponsored by Total Restoration Services: Turning Points Collaborative Society

(Honourable mention: Sterling Centre Remedy’s RX Pharmacy, J.C. Tompson Construction, The Bridge Educational Society)

  • Small Business of the Year sponsored by Community Futures: Anna’s Vitamins Plus

(Honourable mention: Home for Dinner, Kalamalka General Store, Ritual Barbershop)

  • New Business of the Year sponsored by MNP LLP: Fill – Vernon’s Refill Store

(Honourable mention: Bottle None, Boarding House Cafe, Cheese on Wheels)

  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year sponsored by Nixon Wenger Lawyers: Alysia Lor-Knill, Teassential

(Honourable mention: Mitchel Derksen, Numu Consulting; Elmaz Wilder, Ritual Barbershop; Kayley Letendre, Sugarbees Ice Cream Company)

  • Businessperson of the Year sponsored by Kal Tire: Tony Dyck, Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery

(Honourable mention: Brad Pelletier, Predator Ridge Resort; Richard Finn, Wayside; Joe Pearson, Remax)

  • Employer of the Year sponsored by City of Vernon: Sproing Creative

(Honourable mention: Community Futures North Okanagan, Valley First, The Home Depot)

  • Customer Service Award sponsored by Okanagan Spring Brewery: Sterling Centre Remedy’s RX Pharmacy

(Honourable mention: Intermezzo Restaurant & Wine Cellar, Vernon Teach and Learn, Olive Us Oil & Vinegar Tasting Room, Okanagan Restoration)

  • Manufacturer of the Year sponsored by Tekmar Control Systems: UnderGround Kombucha

(Honourable mention: Kekuli Bay Cabinetry, Summit Tiny Homes, Planet Bee Honey Farm)

  • Non-Profit Excellence Award sponsored by Community Foundation North Okanagan: Social Planning Council North Okanagan

(Honourable mention: Venture Training, Greater Vernon Museum & Archives, North Okanagan Valley Gleaners)

  • Community Leader of the Year sponsored by De Vine Vintners: Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery

(Honourable mention: The Fig Bistro, Lake City Casino, Vernon Teach and Learn)

  • Innovator of the Year sponsored by TD Bank: The Med

(Honourable mention: Caufields Engraving, Turning Points Collaborative Society, Martens Holdings)

The winners will be invited to a private event to receive their awards in person.

With the People’s Choice Award, partial proceeds from online voting will establish a scholarship for a local business student while other proceeds will fund Chamber initiatives to support local business.

The gala featured video messages from Ken Holland, general manager of the Edmonton Oilers; and Jillian Harris, founder and creative director of Jillian Harris Design, former Bachelorette and co-host of Love It Or List It Vancouver. There was also a live performance by Andrew Allen.


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