Weekly Regional Business Intelligence

“Everybody's working for the weekend.” — Loverboy

London organizations call for freeze on booze tax

Several of London’s business organizations are calling on the government to freeze a planned elevator excise tax hike on beer, wine and spirits. The hike, which is pegged to inflation, is set to go up by between 5.9 and 6.5 per cent this year ― an increase the London Chamber of Commerce is calling “unprecedented, and simply unsustainable for businesses that are already dealing with some of the highest alcohol taxes in the world.” (In a normal year, the hike is usually between 1.0 and 2.4 per cent) The rise, they say, “will ultimately impact consumers who are already experiencing extraordinary price increases at the cash register." The signatories to the letter, sent to finance minister Chrystia Freeland, include the London Chamber, the London Economic Development Corp., Tourism London and the Downtown, Old East Village, Hamilton Road and Hyde Park BIAs.

The upshot: While sales are coming back to life in Ontario’s restaurants ― they were up 3.8 per cent in May 2022 in the province compared to the month prior ― inflation is beginning to eat into consumer demand across the board, and cost increases are still rising faster than sales, threatening the restaurant sector’s hopes of a sustained post-pandemic comeback. Whether the feds grant the request, on the other hand, is probably anyone’s guess. 

Read more: Letter to Minister Freeland | London Chamber of Commerce

From the magazine: Nestled aside the attractions and eateries at 100 Kellogg Lane, an ag-tech operation is out to prove the viability of vertical farming 

The 100 Kellogg Lane complex has certainly done a lot to establish itself as Canada’s largest entertainment complex — there are restaurants, a brewery, distillery, retailers, ­attractions and (soon) a spiffy new Hard Rock Hotel. But deep in the heart of the former cereal plant, the facility is harkening back to its agro-industrial past as it has quietly become home to Farmia Agritech, one of Canada’s largest vertical farming operations.

Read more: London Inc.

LHSC shakeup continues with three new top execs appointed

As emergency rooms in London and across Canada continue to buckle with staffing challenges, an executive shakeup across the LHSC network will see three new presidents and three new top executives appointed. Nash Syed will take over the direction of the Children’s Hospital, while Cathy Vandersluis has been appointed the new president of University Hospital. Come the fall, Deborah Wiseman will take on the president role at Victoria Hospital. Two of those are new positions ― neither UH or Vic has had a president before, with the positions being announced earlier this month as part of a restructure aimed at creating a “smaller, tighter executive leadership team.” Abhi Mukherjee, CJ Curran and John French, all former executives at Canadian hospitals, have also been brought in to fill new executive positions.

The upshot: There’s been plenty of executive churn in London’s hospital system lately, including the abrupt firing of president and chief executive Paul Woods after he was revealed to have been travelling to the U.S. during the pandemic, and it looks like LHSC hopes a change in leadership can help address widespread strain on the healthcare system. Staffing remains the crux of the problem, though, with the average time spent waiting in the ER to be 18.5 hours at UH, and 15.1 at Victoria Hospital.

Read more: London Free Press


Business transition: The freedom is understanding the why

As a business owner, when you understand and work toward your why, life and business become clearer. You’re able to enjoy the journey of life and ultimately achieve what we’re all looking for when we become business owners: freedom.

Learn more here

FedDev Ontario pumps money into clean tech innovation

FedDev Ontario announced a $3-million investment into the new Canadian Bio-Cleantech Applied Research Network (CBARN), an initiative seeking to “provide research, technical and commercialization support to 65 southern Ontario-based early-stage SMEs in the bio-cleantech sector.” Lambton College is serving as the lead institution of CBARN, and will work with Fanshawe, Mohawk, and Loyalist colleges on the initiative. “Through this collaboration, Lambton College, in partnership with Fanshawe, Mohawk and Loyalist colleges are creating a network of opportunity for bio-based SMEs and a diverse pool of entrepreneurs to access critical support in the Sarnia, London, Hamilton and Belleville regions,“ said local MP Peter Fragiskatos.

The upshot: In its continued pursuit of breakthrough technologies that could get the country on track with its emissions reduction goals (which have so far been missed by some margin), the feds are eager to pump money into innovation-friendly programs like CBARN that aim to bring new tech to market. It is certainly being welcomed by those institutions. Separately, via Natural Resources Canada’s Green Infrastructure funding program, the government has also been splashing money around for energy retrofits in the region, with Fanshawe receiving $1.3 million to retrofit its Kestral Court residence and, just this week, Kinsmen Arena receiving similar funding.

Read more: Canada.ca

Southwestern Ontario non-profits receive $2-million boost

Sixteen Southwestern Ontario non-profits will be receiving infusions of cash from the province, which announced $2 million in funding from the Ontario Trillium Fund’s resilient communities fund ― part of a much larger $95 million province-wide funding initiative. Ten of those non-profits are located in London, including Growing Chefs!, The Grand Theatre, Hutton House and L’Arche London. “Not-for-profit organizations really build the fabric of all of our communities and bring families and seniors and community together, so it’s vital that we ensure that these non-profits can succeed,” said Labour Minister Monte McNaughton.

The upshot: Welcome funding, no doubt, for a non-profit sector which (like everyone else) is struggling to adapt to inflationary pressures. For many non-profits, it’s a double-whammy: not only are costs going up and is inflation eating into their donation bases, but service demands in many cases are on the rise, too. Many will be starting to triage what services they are able to provide.

Read more: Canada Today

From our Content Studio: Express Employment Professionals helps build businesses by building relationships 

Job boards and algorithms won’t get you the people you need. By focusing on helping people thrive, Express Employment Professionals is helping businesses grow.

Read more: London Inc.

Dispatch: July 29, 2022

A summary of recent business appointments and announcements, plus event listings for the upcoming week.

View listings here

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