Theresa Helgason (left), April Martens, Kassey Santos, and Bryan Rowe at West Textiles. Photo Danny Shumov. Daniel McIntyre-Ridd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Although the strip between Wall and Erin Street looks a lot like an industrial zone, a business with a long history in Winnipeg, but new to the area, has found a real sense of community in its new space.

West Textiles says it has been pleasantly surprised by the welcome it has received from the eclectic mix of businesses and the West End BIZ.

The 49-year-old business moved onto Erin Street right before the start of the Pandemic. Soon after, with the assistance of the West End BIZ, through their Anchor Business Program, owner Theresa Helgason was introduced to other business owners and invited to discuss how they might deal with issues that popped up.

To Helgason, getting to know other businesses is also a way to try and work through problems both places might be experiencing. “When we go get a coffee on the next street at 7:00 we talk – like, how’s your business?” Helgason said. “How’s it going in the neighborhood? What do you think of all the construction? They went through construction for the whole summer, and we went through a lot of construction here last summer and it affected things, but now it’s great.”

“The people that are moving in next door (a design-build business) came and brought us donuts to introduce themselves, said April Martens, the Business Manager at West Textiles. “We’ll do some work with them once they get settled there. Even as far as the Wall Street Slice and Seven coffee, we got to know all those people. We try to support the neighborhood.”

These connections are big positives to Joe Kornelsen of the West End BIZ. He says that there are pockets of businesses he’s seen decide to tackle common challenges together rather than just keep to themselves.

“I think that’s exactly what we hope to see in the neighborhood,” Kornelsen said. “When you’re working at a community level, you understand, intuitively and maybe more importantly through experience, that most things you want to get done have to be done together as a team. You really want to see teams like this pulling together to advocate or to work together. Because when that happens, then things get done.”

These community networks are valued highly by the Biz, and show a level of investment that isn’t always found in all parts of the city. “They’re thinking beyond just what their business does,” Kornelsen said. “They’re thinking about who they are in the community. Any time you have a member that sees themselves as part of the community, not just running a business it’s super valuable.”

By Daniel McIntyre-Ridd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 17, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   The Leaf   Winnipeg, Manitoba

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