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Truck-stop hero captures business award



Melissa Carson, who prepared and donated hundreds of hot meals to essential long-haul truckers during the pandemic, has been honoured with an ABEX Award in Saskatchewan’s largest and longest-running business awards program. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 ABEX Awards shifted from its traditional celebration of business success to recognizing businesses and individuals who have become everyday heroes in the province.

Carson, of Weyburn, received an ABEX award of merit in recognition of her project to feed truckers during the pandemic lockdown this spring.

Carson began her project once the lockdowns began around March 20, as a state of emergency was declared for the province of Saskatchewan. She was affected as she is a caretaker at the Weyburn Comprehensive School, and had a week off before she returned to work.

Her parents are truckers, and told her that truck drivers were declared essential workers, yet truck stops and restaurants had to close down, leaving the drivers with no way to get any food while delivering the goods that were needed.

Carson started making meals for her parents to take with them on the road, and then had the idea of going to Weyburn’s main truck stop, the Co-op Crossroads location, and offer home-made hot meals to the truckers who stopped there.

Carson said this surprised many of the truckers, even moving some to tears, and most of them offered her a donation to offset the costs of the meal.

“Most truckers said they don’t want free meals, they just wanted food that’s not something out of a box, but something that was homemade,” she said. If they didn’t offer to provide a donation, she didn’t ask for one, but noted the vast majority of the truckers did give her a donation for the food.

During one stretch, she provided meals to truckers for 57 days in a row. To date, she has made about 1,000 meals .

Mostly she cooked casseroles, such as baked lasagna or mac and cheese, spaghetti, beef stew, or ham and scalloped potatoes. She began to get repeat drivers, and they learned to request their favourites if they knew they would be passing through Weyburn.

“I had truckers who hadn’t had a hot meal in four weeks,” she said. “They were surprised, and you could just see the joy in their faces.”

Asked if truckers made requests for a meal, she said, “If I knew they were coming in, they would often request their favourite meal.”

“I appreciate truckers. Even before COVID, they were essential. When you grow up with parents who are truckers, you appreciate what they do. I grew up in a truck. Every holiday, I’d go on trips with my dad — I loved it,” said Carson.

While most places are more or less back to normal service, she will still get a call once in a while from one of her repeat truckers. She noted she had a request recently for an order of 20 frozen meals. She also still makes meals for her parents while they’re home from a long haul before they head out on the road again.

As far as the awards – she also received $5,000 from Conexus Credit Union from their Kindness Capital Fund in August – she was surprised and delighted.

“It was totally unexpected,” said Carson. “I never wanted recognition for this, but it was nice to get recognized for it.”

Other than the one week off, she remained working full-time from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day during the lockdown, so her meal preparation and deliveries all took place after work and on the weekends.

-Weyburn Review



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Will local businesses survive the coming months?




Businesses are feeling the pinch of a pandemic with no end in sight.

CTV’s Madison Erhardt talked with Barrie Chamber of Commerce President Todd Tuckey about how business owners are coping.

Madison: As numbers climb in the province and locally, what are business owners seeing?

Tuckey: Right now, locally, they aren’t seeing much of a difference. Some of them haven’t ramped up to pre-pandemic, but all in all, they are doing okay generally.

Madison: With the cooler weather upon us, what are business owners who rely on patio and outdoor spaces seeing and doing?

Tuckey: Recently, Doug Downey, our attorney general, announced that he is going to allow patios to stay open right until January 1st at 3 a.m., but the question is for patios; how do they handle it?

Can they deal with the snow load? What do they do for heaters?

At least he has made it available to them so that they can try and generate some revenue, because probably for quite a while in the future it is going to be limited indoor capacity.

Madison: How many business owners are telling you they won’t make it through the next couple of months?

Tuckey: The businesses are more concerned about the C.E.R.B., which goes into a blended unit on the 27th of this month, so it is going to drop off and go more to an E.I. model, and businesses are really looking forward to that because businesses are struggling right now finding employees.

The jobs are certainly there, but the people are not applying, and I think it’s C.E.R.B. that is really killing it.

Madison: Are business owners defaulting on rents? Is there anything that can help them survive?

Tuckey: Rent is a tough one because there is a rent subsidy that is being offered by the government, but the landlord has to take part in that for them to qualify, and the landlord is still running a business themselves.

If they start applying and accepting the subsidy, that means the landlords are getting less money and can they even afford to keep the properties managed at the level that you want.

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Integrating circuits – How Nvidia’s purchase of Arm could open new markets | Business




WHEN SOFTBANK, a Japanese technology group, paid $32bn for Arm in 2016, it was the biggest deal in chipmaking history. That record held until September 13th, when Nvidia, a big American chipmaker, announced its intention to buy the Britain-based chip-designer for $40bn.

Although they share an industry, Arm and its prospective owner are very different. Nvidia makes GPUs: pricey, specialised accelerator chips for gamers and artificial-intelligence number-crunching in data centres. Arm licenses blueprints for general-purpose chips used in everything from smartphones to cars and computerised gizmos that make up the “Internet of Things” (IoT). Customers ship more than 20bn Arm-designed chips every year.

Arm’s keystone position was SoftBank’s rationale for buying the firm. But it has languished under Japanese ownership. Revenues have stagnated, and the firm has made a small but persistent loss (see chart). Geoff Blaber at CCS Insight, a firm of analysts, blames a slowdown in the smartphone market, and low margins on IoT gear. Arm’s $40bn valuation is only 25% higher than when SoftBank bought it—and just 5% higher if you deduct the $1.5bn Nvidia has offered Arm employees to stop them from leaving and a mysterious $5bn cash or stock payout that SoftBank may qualify for under some conditions. Meanwhile, Nvidia’s market capitalisation, four years ago not much bigger than what SoftBank paid for Arm, now stands at $309bn. Its sales have surged.

One motive for Nvidia’s purchase is a desire to expand beyond its existing markets. Arm’s technology could help it build its own versions of the general-purpose processors that power the data-centre computers into which Nvidia’s accelerators are installed, a lucrative market dominated by Intel, the world’s biggest chipmaker by revenue. Nvidia, for its part, hopes that baking its GPU expertise into Arm’s designs will make them more attractive to the firm’s customers.

Those customers, which include Apple, Qualcomm and Samsung, have kept a stony silence. Arm’s business model relies on being what Hermann Hauser, one of its founders, has described as “the Switzerland of the semiconductor industry”—ie, not competing with its customers by selling chips or gadgets itself. Nvidia’s purchase will threaten that neutrality if it tweaks Arm’s products to favour its own goals, or gives itself preferential access to Arm designs.

Nvidia has vowed to keep Arm’s business model intact. Having given such public assurances, says Patrick Moorhead, a chip-industry analyst, Jensen Huang, Nvidia’s boss, is unlikely to risk the opprobrium—or possible lawsuits from aggrieved licensees—that could arise from breaking them. But other analysts point out that Arm’s licensing revenues are, by Nvidia’s standards, small beer. If the Arm deal can be used to vault Nvidia into new markets, then cold commercial logic may encourage Mr Huang to push his luck. Custodians of RISCV, a set of freely available designs, lost no time in noting that it remains independent and free of such conflicts.

Regulatory problems loom, too. Britain’s government is in an interventionist mood and is likely to attach strings, such as keeping Arm’s headquarters in the country. China may also object. It is already upset over American attempts to strangle its technology firms (see article). A takeover by Nvidia would bring Arm—a crucial supplier—firmly under American control. Even in normal times, says Mr Blaber, China might balk at such a prospect. It will be even less keen in the middle of a technological cold war.

This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “Integrating circuits”

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Eshkawkogan featured in Top 100 Magazine of country’s business professionals




Kevin Eshkawkogan, the president and CEO of Indigenous Tourism Ontario, is featured in an issue of The Top 100 Magazine for Canadian business professionals. – Photo supplied

By Sam Laskaris

LITTLE CURRENT – Kevin Eshkawkogan had a simple request when he was approached to be featured in a prestigious magazine.

Eshkawkogan, the president and CEO of Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO), was asked to be in an issue of The Top 100 Magazine. The issue focusses on the Top 100 Canadian business professionals.

“They reached out to me,” said Eshkawkogan, a member of M’Chigeeng First Nation who lives in Little Current on Manitoulin Island. “They saw my name coming up in multiple places.”

Though flattered by the interest, Eshkawkogan stressed he was not interested in an article strictly about him. He wanted the focus to be on the ITO.

“They wanted to do the story on me, just as an individual,” he said. “But the work I do is not for my well-being, it’s for the community good. I didn’t think it should just be a celebration of the work I do. It’s a celebration of the Indigenous tourism work we do.”

Besides being a member of M’Chigeeng First Nation, Eshkawkogan also has plenty of connections with a pair of other First Nations on Manitoulin Island.

His mother is from the Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation, which is also where his current business office is located. And his father is from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, while his stepfather is a M’Chigeeng First Nation member.

As of this year, the ITO had more than 550 Indigenous tourism business members. The association also has about 300 members that represent non-Indigenous tourism businesses.

Eshkawkogan admits the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been a tremendous blow to many ITO members this year.

Restrictions forced many of those businesses to close their doors for months. And even many of those that have been able to recently open up again are facing significant losses and financial difficulties.

“Businesses are still closing, basically daily,” Eshkawkogan said. “We’re crossing our fingers some of these will be temporary.”

Indigenous tourism businesses in Ontario cover many sectors, including restaurants and businesses offering cultural experiences, camping, hotels, lodges and tours.

Eshkawkogan believes there is and will continue to be a great need for Indigenous tourism businesses in the province. And he’s confident that one day, the industry will once again be a booming one.

“Indigenous people are very resilient people,” he said. “And Indigenous tourism businesses are resilient. We’ve got a great recipe to come back even stronger.”

As an example, Eshkawkogan mentioned Anishinaabe/Algonquin chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette, who closed his popular NishDish restaurant in Toronto recently.

“He’s very much a forward-thinker,” Eshkawkogan said. “I know they’re going to come back.”

Eshkawkogan realizes, however, it is going to take some time for the Indigenous tourism industry to recover in the province.

ITO has created a five-year strategic and COVID-19 recovery plan.

“We will be back, stronger than ever,” he said.

Eshkawkogan added the ITO officials have realized since March how much of an impact the pandemic will have on the Indigenous tourism industry in the province.

The ITO released information on the potential economic impacts the pandemic would have in both March and April. And ITO released its recovery plan in June.

“We’re proud of the work we do with Indigenous tourism businesses in Ontario,” he said.

Eshkawkogan is also heavily involved in hockey. He is currently the District 7 council director for the Northern Ontario Hockey Association.

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