Marking milestones in a pandemic economy

Editor's Note

In each issue of the OBJ newsmagazine, publisher Michael Curran shares his prospectus for the Ottawa business community. Read the full fall edition of the newsmagazine here.

Hello. Welcome back. It’s been too long. How have you been? Maybe we shouldn’t ask.

This print issue of OBJ is the first since the pandemic hit. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a print issue published on OBJ’s 25th anniversary. Not a small milestone in this economy. Not a small milestone in the media business.

The pandemic has pushed OBJ, like many local businesses, even further into the digital world. That’s not a new space for OBJ. Way back in 1999, OBJ’s digital journey started in earnest, when we embraced the innovative idea of publishing local business news every few hours on a website. (Yes, that was groundbreaking back then.) Today, the vast majority of our news is published on OBJ.ca, summarized daily on the OBJToday email newsletter and shared with 40,000 social media followers. All that is pretty standard. Nothing new. What’s changing is more video, audio podcasts, webinars and digital events. There will be more of this.

For those of you who are reading this column in newsprint format, you might be asking yourself: what about the printed product? Fear not, good reader. Print isn’t going anywhere.

For the foreseeable future, OBJ will be printed quarterly. This issue, featuring the CEO of the Year, weighs in at 68 pages and is chock-full of original content. This is print-first content. Put that smartphone down for a few minutes, ease back into a comfy chair and enjoy the tactile experience of our printed newsmagazine.

Ottawa is out of balance

October means Small Business Week. It comes at a time when small businesses are suffering more than ever. During this pandemic, many of us confronted the hard reality that a lot of small businesses are fragile businesses. They operate on razor-thin margins, and economic downturns can be catastrophic. Look no further than this city’s mainstreets and the ever-growing number of shuttered storefronts.

When the pandemic hit in March, something else became painfully obvious. Ottawa is a city divided. There is the public sector with its job security, benefits and guaranteed retirement savings, and there is the private sector that lives with boom-and-bust economic cycles. The two groups have a symbiotic relationship, but these days things are badly out of balance.

If those who live with economic certainty don’t step up, Ottawa will be a lesser city. Restaurants, retail shops and other small businesses will permanently close. No amount of government funding will fix this. It’s time to support your local businesses with your pocketbook.