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#CalgaryStrong: Bringing Overdue Innovation to the Construction Industry

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With live plants weaving between the open-concept desk design where employees sit on ergonomic exercise balls, and a small dog that curiously greets you at the door, the Falkbuilt factory in southeast Calgary is far from conventional. The clean white factory, divided into four areas of production all constructed around the ongoing Falknest project at the centre, is a picture of efficiency and innovation. Teams of architects and designers examine project plans within fully furnished glass cubicles – “Falkicles” – while several orders waiting to ship internationally line up beside a miniature, fully functioning red fire truck.


The Falknest

The latest business venture for 72-year-old Calgary entrepreneur Mogens Smed, previously of Smed International and DIRTT Environmental Solutions, Falkbuilt is a cutting edge offsite digital component construction company servicing healthcare, education and commercial industries worldwide.
With more than 4 decades in interior construction, Smed has developed a reputation as an industry titan who more than lives up to his status as an unstoppable force. 

“Lots of people call themselves entrepreneurs,” says Jennifer Allford of Falkbuilt HQ, “but the reason Mogens is so unstoppable is because he actually does see where the puck is going.”

Established in September 2018, Falkbuilt is bringing long overdue innovation to the construction industry with technological upgrades that utilize The Cloud, artificial intelligence and virtual reality as well as streamlined processes that ensure efficiency and unparalleled results.

Using an innovative approach with a few key components, Falkbuilt is able to build beautiful, sustainable, structurally sound and acoustically superior walls 4 times faster than conventional construction methods. Currently, Falkbuilt is preparing to launch its exciting new app, Echo Dome, which will allow colleagues and clients to interact and review architecture and design within the 3D design space while making changes in real time. Echo Dome “live syncs design changes and delights every stakeholder as they experience their space before it’s built”, saving countless hours and drastically elevating the industry standard technology.
“Technical construction is absolutely the most lethargic business in the whole world to respond to innovation,” says Smed, “We believe that the technology we’re developing will revolutionize the architecture design and construction industry, no question about it.”

The descent of COVID-19 on the city of Calgary in the past few months prompted another round of creativity and innovation from the workers at Falkbuilt, who responded to the demands of the pandemic by adjusting their original business plan projections to pivot into the healthcare industry far earlier than expected. “We hadn’t anticipated making any kind of meaningful effort into the healthcare industry for at least a year,” says Smed of the impact of the pandemic on Falkbuilt’s progress, “but Yogi Berra said it best: ‘if there’s a fork in the road, take it.’”

In partnership with Sprung Structures, Falkbuilt worked with Alberta Health Services in April 2020 to provide a rapid response solution to a patient capacity crisis at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary during the height of the pandemic.

Falkbuilt constructed 67 headwalls in 48 hours, all built to industry sterilization standards and equipped with electrical drops, lighting and switch boxes as well as connectors for med gases and vacuum outlets.
The entire project was built with sustainability in mind, and is therefore completely repurposable. This means once the structures are no longer specifically required for pandemic relief, all the headwalls will be efficiently reconfigured and rehomed within the healthcare system as needed. 

Smed and his team of “Falkers” now number over 200 – and that’s just the beginning. With the Falkbuilt factory already bustling with a number of ongoing domestic and international projects, and more in the pipeline for the coming months, Mogens Smed expects to be “pants on fire busy” by September, and can’t wait. 

 

 For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

#CalgaryStrong

Indigenous Tourism Alberta Providing Stimulus Relief Fund for Indigenous Tourism Business Impacted By COVID-19

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Drumheller Hoodoos

Let’s begin by looking at some data on the Indigenous tourism sector in Canada. According to a report done by The Conference Board Of Canada on Canada’s Indigenous Tourism Sector in May 2019,  at least 1,875 Indigenous businesses participate in Canada’s Indigenous tourism sector, and more than 39,000 people work in the sector’s associated industries, attributing $1.7 billion to the nations GDP in 2017. 

 

Now with the tourism sector facing major challenges such as the disturbance of international travel and fear of a second wave of the pandemic, it has become clear that tourism businesses require support to survive the extent of what has turned the industry on its head. Indigenous tourism is vital for those wishing to learn about the deep rooted history of this province and country. I respect Indigenous Tourism Alberta in their work and their initiative to provide stimulus relief to those who need it for this sector to survive. 

 

Press Release: Indigenous Tourism Alberta, June 25 2020

Media Contact: Jessica Harcombe Fleming

Indigenous Tourism Alberta (ITA) is offering a Stimulus Relief Fund to assist and provide assistance for Indigenous businesses in Alberta being impacted by COVID-19. 

 

In response to COVID-19, Indigenous Tourism Alberta has revised their one-year action plan for the continued support of its members through these challenging times. This Stimulus Fund is one of the key action items within the revised action plan to further support the sustainability of the Indigenous tourism industry while navigating the current COVID-19 environment. 

 

The Stimulus Fund will allow businesses to prepare for the recovery by covering costs such as marketing overhead, business costs, health and safety standard improvements and staffing. 

 

“Indigenous tourism businesses have been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and the travel restrictions that have necessarily been put in place. Our goal at ITA is to help these businesses and our industry as a whole, remain competitive to accelerate our recovery and contribute to the diversification of our provincial economy,” said Shae Bird, Executive Director of Indigenous Tourism Alberta.

 

Indigenous tourism in Alberta is worth an estimated $166.2 million of GDP today and carries with it tremendous upside potential. COVID-19 has had a direct negative impact on this sector, and could potentially lose 62% of its value this year in Alberta alone. Sustaining Indigenous tourism in Alberta is a key priority for ITA. 

 

The ITA Stimulus Fund is open to all members of ITA that are export-ready, market-ready and visitor-ready and provides up to $7,500 per member operator. The stimulus fund works in conjunction with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada’s (ITAC) stimulus fund, meaning the total contribution of the two funds cannot exceed $25,000 per operator. 

Applications for the Stimulus Fund can be filled out here

 

“Alberta’s visitor economy will be an essential and growing component of many local and regional economies, so supporting our tourism businesses now is an important step in ensuring our industry thrives well into the future,” said Bird. 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the measures introduced to contain its spread, has had an immediate and catastrophic impact on Alberta’s $8.9B visitor economy. According to the latest Conference Board of Canada research, Indigenous tourism in Alberta is facing a 62 percent decrease in direct GDP contribution and a 60 percent decrease in employment within its respective sector within 2020. Federal and provincial government responses such as the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy and tax relief programs have greatly helped many tourism businesses to date. However, the substantive recovery of the visitor economy is expected to be slower than previously anticipated and greater support is required in order to avoid significant increases in business closures, job losses and local community impacts.

 

About Indigenous Tourism Alberta

Incorporated in 2018 as a not-for-profit society, Indigenous Tourism Alberta (ITA) provides leadership in the development and marketing of authentic Indigenous tourism experiences across Alberta through innovative partnerships. The ITA board consists of six board members representing Indigenous tourism businesses from across Alberta. Indigenous tourism currently generates $130 million in spending in Alberta, providing jobs and supporting entrepreneurs, businesses and communities. 

 

For more information, visit www.indigenoustourismalberta.ca, or their social media below.

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For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary

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#CalgaryStrong

#Calgarystrong: “Business on Camera” surviving and thriving during chaos

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Business On Camera Shares How They Grew Amid COVID-19

These are uncertain times, and the effects of COVID-19 are being felt in every home across our country. Tensions are high, morale is low, and people are frightened. Many families are experiencing stress from loss of livelihood and income and are uncertain of what the future will hold.

It’s in these times that we are encouraged and motivated by success.  We’ve heard countless stories of businesses that are struggling, even giving up and throwing in the towel.  In our industry, media and communication industry, the stories are dire.

Hearing stories of companies that are persevering in this environment keeps us all moving forward. One of those is a company we are excited to be  working closely with, Business on Camera (BOC), an innovative and leading communications firm in Calgary.  Their business is celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2020, right in the middle of a pandemic.

Graham McGinn, Creative Director Business on Camera

“We’ve doubled our staff and doubled the square footage in our office which is located on the Beltline at Work Nicer Roxbury,” says Graham McGinn, Creative Director at BOC.

“We are currently executing on a variety of exciting initiatives including supporting Todayville to launch a new and unique digital media platform in the city. We are really excited about a major project that involves developing an international multilingual communications strategy for an award-winning technology based energy company developing clean, scalable, baseload energy.”

The support of the Alberta Government’s Alberta Multimedia Development Fund, administered by Alberta Culture has played a key role in BOC’s growth.

“Our WeMaple documentary series pushes boundaries in energy storytelling.  We’ve created “micro-consumption” short format videos that are then compiled together to create full 22 minute episodes,” states Matt Keay, CEO, Business on Camera. “The project examines the energy conversation in a completely new way;  both the approach to the project, as well as how we’re distributing it.

We are eternally grateful for the support we’ve received from the Alberta Government, as well as the ATB Branch for Arts & Culture, which provides bridge financing against these government grants.”

Since 2010, Business on Camera has produced sixteen documentaries. Matt says these projects have generated approximately $3.5 million dollars of economic activity, including employment and freelance work that benefited more that 250 people and 55,000 man-hours. They received the “Spirit of Activism Award” from the Colorado Environmental Film Festival for a documentary film called Pipeline Wars. That moment 6 years ago started the company’s exploration of this polarizing social issue.

Matt Keay holding Occulus Quest preparing for a Virtual Reality Sales Tour

“If you’re a creative artist with an entrepreneurial mindset,” says Mr. Keay, “the province provides perfect conditions to create jobs and tell Alberta’s stories.  In regards to the Spirit of Activism Award, it was funny because we were advocating for balanced discussion, that made us activists I guess as far at the Colorado Environmental Film Festival was concerned.”

The company’s WeMaple brand is about inspiring and engaging a new generation of Canadians and creating a global consciousness and began with six documentary films that are currently available on Telus Optik TV and the stories are also being showcased on Todayville. One example in partnership with Calgary Arts Development explored how “Calgarians Live Creative Lives,” another captures Shambhala’s 20th Anniversary.

Keay says the project took a nearly two-year hiatus.

“We faced multiple challenges from multiple areas including financing, compliance, team, and all the mental health and addiction issues that sometimes come along with entrepreneurship. But, from the ocean to the prairies to the Rocky Mountains, the sun always rises again. Things will get better, and until they do, we have each other. We are Canadians, we are True North tough, and we will weather the storm together. Hold on, Canada. Better days are on their way.”

Click to check out the WeMaple video series on Todayville, Calgary’s newest and fastest growing media platform! Email [email protected].

Lloyd Lewis is President of Todayville. 

Read more stories on Todayville Calgary.

 

 

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august, 2020

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