Think BIG Regina! Newsletter

Telling Regina's Story

Over the past few years I’ve learned that an important part of the work of economic development is just making sure that everyone in the community is working from the same set of facts about the local economy. Telling the stories of local companies and business leaders is an important educational tool, and a way to inspire young entrepreneurs to swing for the fences. We believe that we can really improve our performance in that area by bringing Regina’s best business storyteller into the EDR family as a consulting resource. I am very pleased to announce that Bruce Johnstone will be providing us with his wisdom, perspective, and most importantly, the stories he still wants to tell.

Bruce Johnstone is a Regina local who received his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in English from the University of Saskatchewan in 1975. After working briefly with the provincial government, he joined the Leader-Post in 1977. He took over as financial editor in 1985. For the next 30 years, Johnstone was in charge of business coverage for the Leader-Post. During that time, he won awards for his writing from the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Canadian Association of Financial Planners and the Saskatchewan Reporters’ Association. Bruce retired from the Leader-Post, last December, one month short of his 40th anniversary with the newspaper. He now operates his own consulting firm, Bruce Johnstone Communications, which offers freelance journalism, writing, editing and photography services.

Welcome Bruce to EDR and as a columnist in Think BIG Regina!

Canada's Best Kept Secret

By Bruce Johnstone

When Economic Development Regina CEO John Lee approached me to write a column for EDR, I asked him for some editorial direction. “Basically, Regina, business and economic development,’’ he said.

Since I’ve spent the last 35 years writing business stories and columns for the Regina Leader-Post, it seemed like a good fit.

Just to be clear: This is not going to be a puff piece promoting the Queen City. After working in journalism for nearly 40 years, I believe that facts and statistics speak louder than puffery and PR.

That said, a small city like Regina can get lost in the shuffle when competing for attention in the highly competitive world of business.

So why should people consider moving to Regina and put down stakes in a community of less than 250,000 people?

To start with, Regina is the capital of the province that led the nation in economic growth from 2004 to 2014, posting average annual real domestic product (GDP) growth of 1.5 per cent.

While the drop in oil prices has taken some steam off the decade-long economic boom, Saskatchewan is expected to post 1.7 per cent GDP growth in 2017, just below the national average of 1.8 per cent, according to RBC Economics.

Despite the provincial economy contracting in 2015 and 2016, Regina saw modest, but positive, growth of 0.2 per cent last year, with real GDP growth projected at 1.6 per cent in 2017, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

The Ottawa-based economic forecasting agency is projecting the city to post an average of three per cent GDP growth from 2011 to 2020, fourth-highest among Canada’s 13 major cities.

During the same period, the Conference Board expects Regina to consistently outperform the national average in terms of job growth.

In fact, Regina was the fourth-fastest growing city in Canada from 2011 to 2016, posting an 11.8 per cent increase in population, behind only Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon, according to Statistics Canada.

But economic and population growth are not the only measures of city’s attractiveness.

Cost of living and quality of life, high-quality education, healthcare and recreational facilities, parks and green spaces, shorter commute times, more time for family and friends, are really what make a city a great place to live. Regina has these qualities in abundance.

In short, I hope to help EDR spread the word about Regina — the best- kept secret in Canada.

A Fresh Look at Labour Development

There is no question a labour supply challenge is coming for any company operating in Canada. The demographics are clear – nine million baby boomers are reaching retirement age and we will all be scrambling to fill the void they leave in our workplaces. I was very interested to see an entirely new kind of thinking on how we need to look for workers proposed in a Canada West Foundation report.

Matchup, by Janet Lane and Jeff Griffiths, proposes a new tool to help develop and deploy Canada’s workforce: a competency-based, pan-Canadian qualifications framework. The framework gears the Canadian hiring economy toward focusing on what people know and can actually do, not on how they learned to do it. Read more

The Regina Advantage Fosters Entrepreneurs

By Jenn Smith-Nelson

We are pleased to help recognize the people in our community who make the Greater Regina Area a better place to live and do business, as a result of their innovative thinking and willingness to take bold risks. This month we introduce you to Andrew Rathwell of Local & Fresh, who we call a passionate person and produce pusher.

Rathwell arrived in Regina, his new home, a destination that didn’t seem so obvious back when he was finishing up his journalism training in Alberta. In 2000 he came to CJME, assigned to City Hall working as a reporter/anchor. This was a time when “everybody was going the other way, leaving the province for Alberta and B.C.” said Rathwell. “I quickly benefited from the incredible opportunity that this city offered both my journalism career and personal life.”

Making the choice to stay put, Rathwell met his wife, bought a home, which he says was “at a ridiculously affordable price,” compared to his friends in Calgary, and they settled in.

“The business climate made it easier to be able to take the leap in 2004 and become an entrepreneur forming my own communications and consulting firm called Zapwell.”

Turning to entrepreneurship was a life changing moment for Andrew. It enabled him to grow even further and realize a “life-long passion for creating more entrepreneurs.” And by 2010 as President of the Regina Chamber of Commerce, he was working hard to convince more than a few folks to take their own leaps.

Understanding the challenge and opportunity, three years ago Rathwell leapt into a new role as Co-Owner and CEO of Local & Fresh. Rathwell had decided to start up a new company that was focused on building a stronger food network, by making it easy for consumers to find Saskatchewan-grown and produced food products on one website, and then delivering them right to the consumer’s door.

His relatively new startup “seeks to remove the barriers from enjoying the incredible bounty that is available from the amazing producers in the province.”

“I can honestly say I would not have had the incredible opportunities I have had in Regina anywhere else in this country,” Rathwell said. “The size of the community, the tangible and intangible assets, the business climate, they are all just some of the many reasons why Regina is home.” Read more

Regina Hosts First Ever CFL Week

If you’re a huge Canadian Football League (CFL) fan, no matter what team you cheer for, this is an event you’ll be interested in. The first ever CFL Week is being hosted in Regina this March and will include several major fan engagement events, multi-day media access opportunities to more than 50 prominent CFL players, a Hall of Fame and player Gala Dinner, a coaches media junket, and a new passing showcase tournament featuring several of Canada’s top university football programs.

This truly is a packed week of activity that will culminate with the CFL’s National Combine where rising stars come for the most social and accessible Combine in CFL history.

For more information and tickets to the inaugural CFL Week, visit

Meet the EDR Team

Kim is at the front line of finance and operations.  She sees her role as one of helping to maintain the stability of the organization, and she loves the variety the work brings.  “But it’s the people you work with,” Kim says, “who make a role great.”  The organization is well-served with her steady service and resource management.

P: 306-789-5099 ext.232

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