Downtown BIZ wants to help local businesses recover from financial effects of coronavirus

Downtown Winnipeg BIZ CEO Kate Fenske.
Downtown Winnipeg BIZ CEO Kate Fenske. Joe Scarpelli/Global News

The Downtown BIZ wants to extend a helping hand to Winnipeg businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Kate Fenske, CEO of the core-area business organization, told 680 CJOB the BIZ is launching a webinar Monday morning to help business owners across the city with some of the struggles they’re facing due to COVID-19.

“The primary customer base for downtown businesses really are downtown workers, so when companies and organizations were telling their workers to be safe, work from home if you can.. we really see that drop happen early,” said Fenske.

“Some businesses are still making a go of it, adapting their plans, figuring out how to do delivery if they weren’t doing delivery before… but there definitely has been a big shift downtown.

“The more successful downtown is, it’s really about the activity and the people on the street and we’re really not seeing that today.”

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The free webinar, Business Continuity and Crisis Recovery, runs from 9:45-10:45 a.m. Monday, and will feature a panel of experts — Jason Shaw of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, Josee Lemoine of Blackswath Management, and Sachit Mehra of the East India Company restaurant.

“We’ve opened it up to all Winnipeg businesses,” said Fenske. “There’s no charge, you just need to register online beforehand to get the link.

“Businesses really need to be able to bounce back quickly, and that’s critical for our economy.

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“Governments can’t bounce back until the economy does. What are things businesses owner can be doing right now, what are things they should be looking at right now so they can recover as quickly as possible once we get to the other side of this?”

READ MORE: New survey asks Winnipeggers for their downtown vision

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Fenske said the problem is a pressing one for many local businesses, especially as rent payments are just around the corner.

“If the money isn’t coming in and you still have to pay your rent — and rent is coming due this Wednesday for a lot of businesses — and those could be in the thousands of dollars. What are the challenges around that and can you still pay employees?

“We just want to provide some things businesses can think about right now to stay afloat.”

Richard Cloutier talks about the downtown safety model used in Minneapolis
Richard Cloutier talks about the downtown safety model used in Minneapolis