On Thursday, Aug. 28, OBJ issued an open invitation to all candidates in the upcoming municipal election to answer one simple question: Why should the business community vote for you?
As the responses come in, one will be published online each day, and be included in our daily email newsletter. Send your response to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s response is from Jeff Leiper, running in Kitchissippi ward.
Businesses, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are critical to the quality of life in Kitchissippi and Ottawa. They are employers, provide goods and services, offer community support and more. My career in the communications industry has provided me with substantial insight into business imperatives and dynamics at both the SME and enterprise levels.
My pledge is to ensure that the City operates as efficiently and expertly as possible when it comes to business development, and that it seeks economic development opportunities that play to its strengths on the global stage. My career in the private, public and NGO sectors, at the local and national levels, have prepared me well for this task.
I understand business: As the publisher of a respected group of national trade newsletters, I have been accountable for bottom line performance juggling HR and operational costs with top-line growth (including spearheading an important and successful acquisition of a rival publication);
I understand finance and numbers: As Director of Canadian Market Strategies at a respected Boston-based consulting firm, I worked closely as an industry analyst with financial analyst peers on Bay Street to deliver insight into the market performance of Canada’s publicly-traded communications companies. I was a quarterly fixture on ROB Television during earnings season as well as providing frequent comment to business reporters at the Financial Post, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Journal de Montreal and more. My work required in-depth, precision tracking of quarterly and annual reports as well as such key documents as MD&As to develop projections and insights for clients;
I have a broad business network: I’ve developed rich relationships with the companies doing business in Ottawa at the local, national and especially multi-national levels. I look forward to leveraging those relationships in the context of Invest Ottawa’s work. I have worked professionally for many years in the private and NGO spheres directly with businesses on tasks such as strengthening the technology labour market, consumer research, strengthening the ecosystem of SMEs and multi-nationals in Canada, and understanding how governments can help - not hinder - business growth through tax policy, regulation, and economic development initiatives such as accelerators;
I have rich business relationships at the community level: My partner Natalie has been the executive director of the Westboro Business Improvement Area and we've discussed frequently about local business concerns. For 10 years I have overseen a community business sponsorship program specifically tailored to the needs of small proprietorships, delivering maximum ROI with multiple coop ad buys and marketing placements in a low-cost program, geared to the limited time and financial resources of our “mom and pops”. My relationship with local business is one of creating mutual advantage, with the track record to demonstrate it;
I believe business should be treated fairly, sensitive to unintended consequences: When our Councillor sought to create an unfair advantage for one home builder to take advantage of the brownfield development program, I argued vociferously against the skews that would introduce into the market. My pledge is to consider policy and regulation in the context of economics over pandering and favoritism in order to provide business certainty;
I am a champion for Ottawa businesses: I believe that in procurement and the provision of city services, Ottawa can more aggressively adopt modern technology paradigms, and I will work to ensure that Ottawa companies have a fair shot in achieving the transition to, for example, the cloud;
I believe in transparency and dialog in a regulatory environment: I have spearheaded multiple meetings between Ottawa’s home builders and residents, working with the Greater Ottawa Home Builders' Association. Our collaboration has led to better regulation of in-fill housing, and to a more nuanced relationship between the stakeholders understanding each others' financial and quality-of-life perspectives.
I'd be very pleased to discuss any of these further with interested stakeholders. Visit me at jeffleiper.ca for more.
Katherine Hobbs, incumbent, Kitchissippi, Aug. 29