Think Olympic-sized goals 

Women of Whistler explore Games-related business opportunities

Athletes aren’t the only ones who should be going for gold in 2010.

Betty MacLeod, Senior Manager of Olympic Business Development for the Royal Bank, says local businesses should be actively looking for ways to get involved and reap the benefits of the Olympics, whether by bidding on contracts, licensing symbols, marketing to sponsors and visitors, or participating in major events.

“At the Sydney Games, more than 80 per cent of Games-related contracts were awarded to Australian businesses,” MacLeod told a group of business women at a Women of Whistler meeting Monday night. “And… we certainly want to see those kind of numbers and more.”

MacLeod, who has 20 years of banking experience in British Columbia, said Olympic spending will bring in about $10 billion to the area, and it isn’t just large businesses that can benefit from the opportunities that come along with the Games.

MacLeod also gave many examples of small businesses that have grown from their involvement in Olympic business ventures. In particular, she spoke about EB Engineering, a two-man company based in Sidney, B.C. that provided solar-powered LED lighting for sailing and swimming events at the 2004 Athens Games. The Olympic contract led to a potential new project at the Suez Canal.

“…Their advice to you, is small companies should not feel intimidated by the size of Olympic Games’ contracts, because its very often the individual in the basement that’s coming up with the innovative ideas,” MacLeod said.

MacLeod emphasized that while businesses should be eager to capitalize on the opportunities that will come along with the Games, it should be seen as a step along the way to the end goal of their business plans.

She said the extensiveness of Olympic-related opportunities is “mind-boggling” at times, and small businesses have to be creative and actively looking for their chance to get involved. She recommended that businesspeople check the VANOC and 2010 Commerce Centre websites to stay connected, and to register their companies before opportunities arise.

Looking at subcontracting or partnering with winning bidders is another option.

“Your competition actually can now be your best partner, allowing you to get a piece of the pie, versus no pie at all,” MacLeod said.

But to be successful, MacLeod stressed that businesses must think outside the box, and prepare bids as requested, which has been a stumbling block for many business people she has worked with.

“One of the key pieces that kept coming back to me, time and time again, from businesses, was the lack of confidence and lack of education that was available to businesses with respect to the Request for Proposal… bid process.”

To help with the often-complicated RFP and EOI processes, MacLeod announced that RBC has partnered with the Whistler Chamber of Commerce to host a workshop on the procurement process. The workshop, called “Demystifying the RFP Process,” will be held on Nov. 29, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Andrea Holmes, a Paralympian from West Vancouver, also attended Monday’s meeting, and spoke emotionally about her national and international achievements in track and field events.

She has recently decided to take on a new challenge, returning to her childhood passion of skiing. She will be training in Whistler, with the goal of qualifying for the alpine ski team and representing Canada at the 2010 Games.

Holmes, who graduated with her business degree from the University of Victoria, drew a parallel between her goal to compete in the Olympics and the opportunities many local businesses will have if they decide to get involved in the Games.

“Goal setting and overcoming… setbacks have been a common theme in my life,” Holmes said, “and I urge everyone to have goals, whether they are personal goals, or taking your company to that next level and getting involved in the 2010 Games.”

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