Government of Manitoba
The first Business Gateway was opened in Brandon in 2009. This was a pilot project as part of the Manitoba government's plan to encourage entrepreneurship and offer a more streamlined access to business and employment services for the public. The project was developed as a joint partnership project between the following government program areas: Competitiveness Initiatives; Small Business Development; Apprenticeship Manitoba; Employment Manitoba; Industry Workforce Development; and Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives. The Brandon Business Gateway was to be a single-window information, service and referral centre that would serve business clients and residents from across the Westman Region.
The model proved to be extremely successful, and expansion was the obvious next step. The champions of the Business Gateway were keen to broaden the scope of the project to include Manitoba's Francophone community. Consequently, a new partner was invited to participate: Manitoba's network of Bilingual Service Centres (BSCs).
The innovative BSCs were established in 2002 in the designated bilingual areas of the province to provide a "one-stop" access to services and program information from all levels of government in both official languages. Placing Business Gateways in the BSCs was a natural development, since their bilingual information specialists were already used to helping Francophones navigate the sometimes complex array of government programs and services.
On January 12, 2011, the first of the bilingual Business Gateways was opened in St. Boniface, quickly followed by other ones in St-Pierre-Jolys, Notre Dame de Lourdes and St. Vital. Using a single-window approach, the bilingual Business Gateways provide information, referrals and services for a variety of business and employment needs, including the following: starting a business; regulations, registrations, licences and permits; taxation; financial programs; market research, marketing and planning; business planning and feasibility analysis; recruiting, retaining, training and managing employees; skills development; business expansion and growth; exporting; doing business with government; innovation and technology commercialization; and information about Workers Compensation Board and the Manitoba Companies Office.
The Business Gateways can be accessed by phone, in person or by email. As the initial point of contact for the client, the BSCs' information specialists can provide a wide range of general information and service, and will provide referrals to departmental programs as necessary.
The Business Gateways are another step toward the Manitoba government's goal of making the province's business and employment information and services easier to find, understand and use. That the new Business Gateways have been located in the BSCs further underscores Manitoba's commitment to providing comparable government services to all its residents—in the official language of their choice—and represents an important milestone in the evolution of French-language service delivery in the province.