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Neighbourhood Watch

Allow us to introduce you to your next business relationship

The beautiful thing about snowstorms is that they have this intrinsic nature of bringing communities together. Perhaps it's because much of life as we know it comes to a halt—including cars in snowbanks—allowing us to meet and assist people we wouldn't otherwise cross paths with. I met Cormack from Northern Ireland this way earlier this month, helping him dig out of our crescent, which had a new three-foot barrier thanks to the main street being plowed minutes earlier.

Cormack, it turns out, is in construction, which may prove invaluable, considering renovations Mary and I are planning. I'd previously never met the man, who lives three doors down from us…for the past two years.

Life is busier than it once was. We consequently miss out on the simple things, like who lives on our street, or works in the office next to ours, or what company occupies the building across the way. We have 20 times the contacts we once had, but half the people we would trust in a crunch.

That was the genesis of this magazine's "Meet Your Neighbours" section, where we choose a particular neighbourhood or a similar field of business and explore the backgrounds of those companies. They're brief synopses, but they could potentially help attract clients or business partners who were previously unaware of your existence.

And you never know what you're missing. Touring a manufacturing plant in Grimsby years ago, an associate of mine heard the virtues espoused of a high-priced gantry system that had been installed by an American company. "Why didn't you use RMT Robotics just up the road?" she inquired, leaving the tour guide speechless.

Nurturing such symbiotic relationships is also good for the environment, since they require a fraction of the travel and shipping costs between partners and result in huge time savings and other efficiencies. BIZ Magazine has been providing this type of unique networking opportunity for area businesses for the past 28 years, with Business Niagara following suit. It's an easy-to-read medium where we share vital information and profile people you need to know. They each have lessons they've learned and subjects they can teach us.

And our reach has significantly broadened in 2013. Beginning with this issue, BIZ and Business Niagara have permanently teamed up to cover the entire Golden Horseshoe, from Oakville to Niagara Falls, providing the region's movers and shakers— from one-person operations to major corporations—with an indispensible yet inexpensive business resource. That's millions of residents, thousands of businesses and 4,200 square kilometres of stories to tell. And we want yours to be one of them, be it an inspirational tale of perseverance, a brilliant concept brought to market, a longtime success story founded upon service excellence or another idea of interest.

And there's no shortage of stories, from the 2012 Academy Award won by Hamilton's PV Labs and Burlington's L-3 Wescam for their aerial camera platform, to the lifts created for Cirque du Soleil and Mama Mia by Grimsby's Handling Specialty.

For a modestly sized publication with a circulation of 34,000, I'm constantly surprised by how many people regularly comb the pages of BIZ and Business Niagara, whether they had it delivered directly to their doors, or read it in a doctor's office, barber shop or other establishment while awaiting an appointment. And these are just the type of people you want to learn about your company—decision makers, those with money to spend, individuals with ideas that can improve your business.

If we carry one bias, it's a preference to focus on what's going right in our little corner of the world. Closings are other people's interests; openings are ours. That's why our back page, "Looking Back," is designed to tie this region's great history to its current industry. We want to share success stories so that others can be similarly inspired. We've also recruited four local experts thus far in 2013 to pen regular tips in the attempt to spread the wealth of expertise, covering the fields of website SEO, marketing and branding, motivation and human resources. We're still looking for two more from the Grimsby-to-Niagara region, including a legal eagle.

We'd like to hear from you—as would other businesses across the region.

You never know. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.