Muni close to naming telecommunications partner 

Negotiating with Telus and Bell

The Resort Municipality of Whistler is hoping to announce a telecommunications corporate partner by the end of January, 2006, based on council approval.

John Rae, the manager of strategic alliances for the municipality, confirmed that the RMOW has been in negotiations with both Telus and Bell, and that initially there was also some interest from Rogers Communications as well.

The details of the contract will not be available until the partnership is formally announced, but Rae said the overall goal of the municipality’s corporate partnership program is to generate incremental revenues for the resort by locating strategic partners in several business sectors. The partners would get a customer in the municipality and a presence in Whistler, and Whistler would receive revenues and in-kind services, including marketing for the resort outside of the community and province.

The sectors where the RMOW is currently seeking corporate partnerships are telecommunications, credit card, automotive and financial institution.

"I can say that telecommunications is the most advanced of the sectors we’re looking at, we’re probably at about stage nine of a 10 stage process," said Rae. "The financial institution (sector) is where we’re least advanced, but it’s also the most complex. First we have to define what is a financial institution – is it a bank, is it a trust company, is it stocks and bonds, an insurance company, and what issues do we have to take into consideration.

"Credit card is simpler, but automotive is more complex because we want to make sure the organization (we choose) is most closely aligned with our sustainability initiatives from an environmental perspective."

Rae is adamant that corporate partners are different than sponsors, and signing partnerships with one company won’t keep competitive companies from supporting events in town.

"We want to make sure we don’t deny the community the opportunity to receive a significant sponsorship from a competitor of a corporate partner," said Rae. "A corporate partnership is 24-7, 365 days a year, for several years.

"The municipality will likely be buying goods or services from the partner organization. For example, if we do a corporate partnership with a financial institution we would probably bank with that institution. If it’s an automotive company, we would most likely be purchasing vehicles for the municipal fleet from that company."

When it comes to hosting events, there is a protocol that corporate partners get the first opportunity to be sponsors. If they decline a sponsorship opportunity it is opened up to other companies in the same sector.

"For example, Whistler-Blackcomb has a corporate partnership with GM, but that doesn’t prevent Nissan from sponsoring Crankworx," said Rae.

"How corporate partnerships will be executed in the community and what the benefits are going to be, I’ll be more specific about that when contracts are signed."

The RMOW articulated its plan to "Generate revenue via corporate partnerships and/or licensing agreements" in the most recent five-year financial plan. The goal is to have partners in the key categories by the fourth quarter of the financial year in 2006.

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