MAPLE Business Community

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By Stephen Armstrong, Co-Founder and President, MAPLE Business Council®

It is a very special experience launching an organization. As many of our readers know well, led by a mission and driven by a passion to connect that mission with a target audience, it is a heady and all-consuming ride.

Launching a non-profit is no less exhilarating especially when it is one that connects communities you care deeply about. The exciting thing is that the very process of connecting communities together gives birth to a new community itself. MAPLE Business Council® (MAPLE) is all about community. In fact, MAPLE Business Community may be a more apt name for what we do. Our success in helping businesses in Canada and in Southern California depends on nurturing a community of experts who can thin borders, overcome challenges, answer questions and define winning strategies.
 
While 2019 is well underway – I would like to share a quick recap of what our community accomplished in 2018.  It was another milestone-year for MAPLE. We turned three years old in May. We held our 49th and 50th events (those close to us know why '49' was an important number given our mission!). We welcomed new members throughout the year including iconic and leading brands in a variety of sectors including Avison Young, Canada Post, Fasken, and TMX Group (TSX, TSX Venture Exchange). We deepened our ties with renewing members and have grown to a community with over 15 sectors represented. 
 
A community by its very definition is about multiple stakeholders working collaboratively together. Our MAPLE community extends well beyond our membership to include a growing network of followers/readers of our online cross-border content and to a growing group of strategic partners.
 
In 2018, we were honored to renew our partnership with World Trade Center Los Angeles and welcomed a new partnership with World Trade Center Vancouver. And we are proud to be a new Canadian market partner with the City of Long Beach, California. Interestingly, our work to date with all of these organizations already shares a common Canadian touch point – the Vancouver, B.C. market.  
 
In 2018, we “brought LA to Vancouver” on two occasions for presentations by World Trade Center Los Angeles President, Stephen Cheung, and by the GM Americas, Christian Spaltenstein, of Woodland Hills-based, Associated Foreign Exchange (AFEX). 
 
We are now looking forward to sharing Vancouver with a civic and corporate delegation representing Long Beach next week as we build closer ties between two West Coast neighbors. Representing Long Beach will be District 1 Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, the City’s Economic Development Office, the Port of Long Beach, California State University Long Beach’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and leading businesses. We are honored to facilitate an opportunity for Long Beach to share its story as part of the SelectUSA InvesTech Summit and related receptions.
 
MAPLE is really about setting the table for meaningful conversations to happen. For investment, trade and entrepreneurship. The capabilities, experience, expertise, resources, vision is in the room represented by our members, partners and guests. Our role is to facilitate the connection between business executives to find the answers and insights to propel their business forward whether it is a Southern California business considering Canada or a Canadian business looking south or between businesses in either region.
 
So in a year when the strength of our national ties were tested with rhetoric and policy, at our events in Canada and across Southern California, we witnessed an unwavering commitment by business leaders to continue working together, protecting valued supply chains, leveraging the opportunities to serve each other’s markets and working with trusted partners. The Canada - U.S. relationship can never be taken for granted and MAPLE provides opportunities for businesses, institutions, and cities to recognize the value of our longstanding cross-border partnership.
 
Our work continues as we approach our fourth anniversary in a few months. We are excited to play a small role in a tremendously important investment, trade and entrepreneurship relationship that Canada and Southern California share together. A relationship that deserves the focus that a sticky executive-level business network offers by bringing ideas and people together through events, visits to markets, and content curation. 
 
2019 has already brought some exciting new opportunities. We are showcasing our members’ voices with our new MAPLE Conversations video series, celebrating our new MAPLE® Canadian trademark, connecting Vancouver and Long Beach with our upcoming delegation trip, and we are excited to welcome Canada’s new Consul General in Los Angeles, Consul General Zaib Shaikh. 
 
It is a privilege to serve this community and help amplify the voices of our members and partners. Your voices are shaping the contours of the Canadian – Southern Californian investment, trade and entrepreneurship communities.  Thank you for your support and we look forward to an outstanding 2019 together.