By Schnarr, J.W. on May 17, 2018.
Members of the local business community had an opportunity on Wednesday to learn about the importance of improving their community while growing their business during an annual breakfast event hosted by Economic Development Lethbridge.
EDL, with support from the Regional Innovation Network of Southern Alberta, held its annual “Food For Thought – Entrepreneurship, Leadership and the Economy” breakfast. The event featured presentations by EDL CEO Trevor Lewington and social entrepreneur and restaurateur Mark Brand.
Lewington works with EDL to connect, support and promote the city as a place for enterprise, and a place where businesses and citizens can thrive within a welcoming community.
Brand is one of North America’s foremost social entrepreneurs with 11 businesses under his belt and an example of a new form of leadership that encompasses good in every step.
Lewington said the annual event acts to provide key statistical information regarding Lethbridge to the business community in order to help them make better decisions.
“Typically, as a part of that, we bring in a guest speaker like Mark Brand. We had him here today to talk about the innovative work he’s doing in Vancouver and around North America to address homelessness and poverty, and how he can be an entrepreneur and make money while doing good.
“The work Mark is doing, like addressing poverty and drug use, is something we see in Lethbridge. And, quite frankly, if we’re going to be a community that’s inclusive, if we’re going to continue to grow and be a strong community, then that means addressing some of those issues head-on.”
“There is no ‘us and them,'” said Brand. “There’s only us. And while we’re looking at entrepreneurship and business to really think about every user in our system.
“If we’re going to solve problems, we have to solve them for everybody.”
Brand said City programs such as Housing First are an example of pragmatic solutions that have more of a chance of success.
“That’s super hopeful for me,” he said. “There’s an appetite to help here that I haven’t seen as much in other cities that are already active in the solution.”
“Sometimes, we’re so focused on, ‘I’ve got to make money,’ that we forget we can also do good and have a positive social impact,” said Lewington.
“Profit is not a dirty word. You can actually help people while building a better community “
From a business standpoint, Lethbridge continues to have a lot going for it.
“We continue to have among the lowest employment rates in the province, so that’s encouraging,” he said. “There’s a strong economy here.
“It’s a good place to invest, and it’s a good place to continue to look for opportunities to work.”
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