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Business Beat: New Reality

A short four weeks ago, I brought you a story on the rapidly emerging field of Machine Learning (ML). APEX, in partnership with the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (amii), was about to hold a workshop to introduce small and medium enterprises (SME) to the possibilities of incorporating ML and AI into their business models. Foreshadowing??

Today, four weeks later, many of us have had to learn a fairly radical new way of working. We are working from home, we have had to redesign our workflows and processes , we have had to re-tool our manufacturing and many have volunteered to close their business to protect their staff and customers. We are physically distancing ourselves, isolating, washing our hands until they are raw, some are wearing masks and gloves and installing plexiglass barriers and we are learning.

It may seem strange that I stopped that sentence so abruptly, but it was a complete thought. WE ARE LEARNING. This new reality has placed us all in a state of discomfort.  Discomfort is a place that provides us with the most incredible growth opportunities. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve learned much more from discomfort and hardship than I have from comfort and success.  Incredible innovation is already emerging in this business environment.  This weekend, for example, I learned of a multi-facility yoga studio in the US that, while all of its physical locations were forced to close, pioneered ‘virtual yoga classes’ for its membership.  At last count, over 650 members had signed up for their 40 day intensive yoga experience program.

To support our clients through the Pandemic, APEX has taken on an innovation leadership role with the Invest Southeast Alberta (ISA) Economic Recovery Team.  We are dedicated to bringing our Regional Business community as many free online learning opportunities as possible while the opportunity presents. We have two webinars scheduled for next week:

In the coming weeks we will bring you an online Social Media Conference, we’ve lined up an HR series that includes, Conflict Management, Customer Service and General HR strategies, the City of Medicine Hat will discuss Procurement and Pre-qualification and OHS specialists will discuss how to meet the pre-qualification standards so you can bid on City Capital projects. In addition, a leader in the Non-Profit sector has agreed to provide insight into how to find Grant Opportunities and Tips on how to complete Grant Applications. These are a few of the events we have lined up. We have also asked our Political leaders to provide answers to questions posed specifically by business owners and constituents and they have agreed to answer to the best of their abilities.

My ask today is that all of you, business owners, employees (working on site or from home, working ‘normally or work-sharing and those who have been served lay-off notices), residents, people home-schooling their children; everyone we can reach, first, please follow the regulations laid down by the Health Authorities and second, take advantage of what we’re offering. If you have any suggestions on a webinar that we can provide or any questions that you want forwarded to our leaders in the City, the County, the Province, or the Federal Government, please send them to me at smilne@albertacf.com or post them on our social media pages. Please also use the Chamber of Commerce Website as they update it daily with the most relevant information.  You can also check out the City’s full site or Invest Medicine Hat (IMH) pages and I implore all businesses in Medicine Hat to update their listing on Google My Business. If you are unsure how, we’ll host a webinar on that!

On a personal note, this has been quite a learning opportunity for me.  My team for example, has had Microsoft 365 for years and we are just now learning to use it as a tool.  I’ve learned how to use Zoom to host webinars, I’ve joined that online 40 day Yoga community, and my family now has a standing Facetime Sunday Dinner so we can keep caught up with one another.  I look forward to supporting our community through this crisis and ask that you join the FB group YXH Business Support and like the APEX FB page as all coming events will be posted on both of these resources.

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