Postings for Request for Proposals and other procurement bids were up by 47% for the 11 working days between May 01 – 15 on the Merx bid portal. In British Columbia it was up 10% . This is a positive sign for small and medium business (SMB) survival and resurrection.
This trend will likely continue as retrofitting society to the new normal unfolds. It is certain to increase opportunities for SMBs. Responding to RFPs can help increase your revenue especially if sales have slowed during Covid. And perhaps with a tweak to your current offerings or uniting with a complementary business to produce a hybrid product or service new markets could lead to new prospects.
In the coming months governments will transition from supplement to stimulus programs. The Trudeau government has already said as much. There will be programs to get people back to work and reignite consume spending.
There is also an approved $180-billion infrastructure budget already in place. Focus is on public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, affordable housing, and trade and transportation.
But this is a much broader definition of “infrastructure” than usual. Post-COVID dictates different requirements. Embedded in these projects will be new requirements – or as stand-alone RFPs. There will be ample opportunity for SMBs through bid postings, or supply products and services to larger companies.
This is also a singular window to reshape the economy and transition to the low-carbon future that was central last year’s Liberal re-election. And anxious to restore the trade balance in Canada’s favour, the Federal government is very keen to support leading-edge applications that can evolve into export opportunities.
The prime minister is framing green stimulus not just as a moral responsibility. This is another area that are likely include Request for Proposals suitable for SMBs.
Direct spending on green projects will cover a wide range, most of them leading to emission reduction in one form or another. The buzz includes:
- Building retrofits. More energy efficient and switch to cleaner heating options. Safeguards against climate-induced risks, e.g. flood, fire.
- Electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations. The thinking being “build it and they will come”.
- Improve electricity grids. Linking the hydro-rich provinces (BC, Manitoba, Quebec) with neighboring provinces to reduce their reliance on fossil fuel generation.
- Reinvent public spaces. Like flood buffers, natural “sponges” to absorb water, ‘gray with green’ design that combines public works with green space.
- Transit and fleet electrification. Or maybe hydrogen.
- Hydrogen. Electrification may be impractical for heavy industrial transportation (e.g. trucks). Hydrogen extracted from the oil sands may be the alternative. And the associated infrastructure to go with it.
- Broadband access. As well as other benefits, increasing broadband access would ease more telecommuting.
Access to capital for clean technology development and scale-up through Sustainable Development and Technology Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada.
Ottawa has also made leadership changes at two agencies central to economic recovery. Newly appointed is Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem who last year chaired a federal panel on sustainable finance.
At the Canadian Infrastructure Bank, Michael Sabia was appointed Chair, and the search is on for a new President. The bank’s purpose is to transform financing of infrastructure by inviting large institutional investors (e.g., pension funds) to share in revenue-generating projects that are in the public interest. Less than $4-billion of the bank’s current $35 billion budget has been spent and the bank has faced criticism for not acting quickly enough.