City partners with Venture for Canada to tackle labour shortages in hospitality and retail sectors

The City is partnering with the Queen’s University Smith School of Business and Venture for Canada (VFC) to create real-world social impact in the community. From 1:30 p.m. on June 7 to 10:30 a.m. on June 8, four teams of 10 VFC fellows will work around the clock to find a solution to an immediate challenge in Kingston. This “hackathon” will be completed as part of the VFC entrepreneurial training camp through the Centre for Business Venturing at Smith School of Business.

“The Venture for Canada Social Impact Challenge will give emerging professionals real-world experience, while generating tangible social impact in Kingston,” says Craig Desjardins, Director of Strategy, Innovation and Partnerships for the City.

The challenge will focus on one key problem statement: How can Kingston’s business ecosystem address labour shortages in the hospitality and retail sectors to sustain services for residents and tourists, while supporting downtown Kingston? In addition to the problem statement, which was provided by the City, the Smith School of Business will facilitate the event by providing access to facilities on campus.

Representatives from Kingston Accommodation Partners and the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA) will also support the event as judges and subject-matter experts.

“Addressing labour shortages in Kingston’s retail and hospitality sectors will benefit the broader community by providing jobs and positioning the City for long-term economic success, while supporting COVID-19 recovery efforts,” says Marijo Cuerrier, Executive Director of the Downtown Kingston BIA.

Teams will have dedicated working sessions to complete the innovation challenge and develop their idea, after which they will deliver a five-minute pitch to a panel of judges and their peers, followed by a Q-AND-A.

"Venture for Canada Fellows venture not just for themselves, but for others," said Scott Stirrett, CEO and Founder of Venture for Canada. "We are excited to partner with the City of Kingston and the Smith School of Business at Queen's University to provide Venture for Canada Fellows the opportunity to support the local Kingston community."

The social impact challenge is part of VFC’s Fellowship Program: an entrepreneurial program for recent grads to deliver skill and leadership development, and work experience at startups. Nearly 50 young Canadians come together for a three-week entrepreneurial Training Camp to prepare them for work in entrepreneurial environments.