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'Stunning' Leacock Home needs big investment: consultants – OrilliaMatters

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The Stephen Leacock Museum is a “stunning and rare” asset that needs an investment of up to $3.5 million over the next 10 years to realize its potential.

That’s the conclusion of a lengthy masterplan exercise conducted by TCI Management, who presented a 255-page report to city councillors at its virtual meeting Monday. 

All options were on the table – from selling the facility to the highest bidder to keeping the national historic site within the city’s culture department.

Ultimately, the recommendation is to keep it where it is.

“But this does not represent the status quo,” said John Linton, a partner at TCI. He said investments are needed in both capital and operations.

For example, the masterplan calls on the city to move the curator position at the museum from a contract position to a full-time position.

Another programming staffer should be added to augment the programming side; the consultants believe new and expanded program offerings could boost attendance at the site on the shore of Lake Couchiching.

But the consultants also raised a red flag of sorts. Since Stephen Leacock’s books are no longer required reading in Ontario schools, there is a “diminishing recognition” of the famed humourist – especially among millennials and younger people. 

“His relevance is fading to some extent,” said Linton.

The consultants say it’s “an opportunity” to revisit its brand and they recommend calling the property “The Old Brewery Bay National Historic Site, home of the Stephen Leacock Museum.”

He said the idea would be to use the Leacock legacy as a springboard to celebrate the traditions of Leacock, who lived at the home and wrote in the boathouse.

One of the key recommendations is to improve the food service operation at the site, which, generally, has “a poor image.”

A basic food service/coffee operation is a “fairly essential element of the visitor experience … to attract visitors and keep them on site,” said Linton.

City councillors ultimately agreed at Mondays’ council committee meeting. They accepted the report in principle and also agreed “to actively seek out a food services business to manage a cafe or restaurant on site.”

The decision has to be ratified at next Monday’s city council meeting.

The consultants recommend the city pursue a “branded operation” such as Williams or Timothy’s that would help attract people to the site.

There are myriad other recommendations – both short-term and long-term – in the report. Staff will be tasked with coming to annual budget deliberations with detailed plans to implement some or all of the ideas in the coming years.

The goal is to attract more people to the historic site. In the pre-COVID era, about 13,000 people attended the facility annually.

The consultants say the recommendations should increase attendance by at least 5% each year and, over time, should decrease operating costs – currently about $300,000 annually – by about 5% as well.

The report calls on the city to increase admission fees and raise the fee it charges to rent out its banquet hall to help “maximize” the asset.

They also suggest the city develop a 3,200-square foot pavilion that could be used year-round, to create a stage, to improve parking and lighting and build a ramp that would improve accessibility.

It’s also vital to bolster marketing and communication efforts while building and improving partnerships, notes the plan.

The consultants see a “major opportunity to pursue and develop more partnerships” in the coming years.

They suggest the city pursue “a significant opportunity” to partner with the Orillia Museum of Art and History and, potentially, develop  a memorandum of understanding between the two entities to “forge a closer relationship.”

Coun. Pat Hehn, a “strong supporter” of the Leacock site, said she was “greatly relieved” that the recommendation was not to sell the facility.

Coun. Tim Lauer said he was glad to see the consultants recognized the “importance of place” the museum has in the city. 

He said he was “very supportive” of enhanced partnerships. He said the consultants’ idea of having events – such as a Symphony Under the Stars – is ideal for this “beautiful venue.”

Lauer said he would like to see the city connect Tudhope Park with the Leacock home through an extension of the Millennium Trail.

Ray Merkley, the city’s manager of community services, said there “are significant challenges” along the waterfront, but said they are bringing a plan to this year’s budget session to make enhancements to “highlight the Brewery Bay Lane trail” and improve signage and other elements that would help people walk between the two sites.

Mayor Steve Clarke said he didn’t “share all the enthusiasm” others expressed about the plan, noting he’s concerned there is barely “an incremental increase in vibrancy” expected over the years.

He also said he has concerns that a new pavilion would lead to more noise complaints from nearby residents. He asked the consultant if he could identify “an event centre with collapsible walls and four-season vibrancy in the middle of a residential neighbourhood.”

Linton referenced one such facility in Toronto in the middle of residential area.

Lauer said the success of a facility like the Leacock Home cannot be just about revenues.

“It’s important to remember we don’t run a facility in this city that makes money,” said Lauer, using arenas and the library as examples. “They all cost money. It’s important to contain costs and to do all you can to generate revenue” but if better programming and more events are offered, “that will take care of itself.”

The city paid $67,860 to the consultants to complete the masterplan.

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Oracle TikTok Investment Wins Trump’s Blessing: Deal at a Glance – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Oracle TikTok Investment Wins Trump’s Blessing: Deal at a Glance

(Bloomberg) — Oracle Corp.’s agreement to take a stake in TikTok has won the long-awaited blessing of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The proposal, which would give Oracle and other investors minority ownership of a new company called TikTok Global, still needs approval from regulators in China, where TikTok’s parent ByteDance Ltd. is based.

Trump’s praise for the agreement suggests that weeks-long deliberations over the fate of a popular music and video-sharing app are nearing completion. ByteDance began holding discussions with investors in its U.S. operations after the Trump administration threatened to shutter the business, saying that it poses a threat to national security.

While some of the terms remain undetermined, here’s what’s known about the deal, based on public statements and people with knowledge of the matter:

What We Know

Who’s in and who’s outOracle plans to take a 12.5% stake in a round of financing that would precede an IPOTikTok also said that together, Oracle and Walmart Inc. could end up with as much as 20%The new company, called TikTok Global, will seek a U.S. IPO and raise a pre-IPO round of financingExisting Bytedance investors that could participate in the pre-IPO round include Sequoia Capital, General Altantic and Coatue CapitalA host of other companies made proposals or considered bidding. Microsoft Corp. was rebuffed because it wanted to control all of TikTok in the U.S., a condition that didn’t sit well with BeijingWhat the deal looks likeOracle will be TikTok’s “trusted technology provider,” meaning Oracle will house the entity’s data in its U.S. servers — a boon to a cloud computing business that has lagged behind those of Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft. It will also get access to monitor TikTok’s source code and algorithmsWalmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon will sit on Tiktok Global’s board and is discussing a commercial partnership with TikTokTikTok Global will likely be headquartered in Texas and will hire at least 25,000 people, Trump said, without mentioning a timeline for those hiresByteDance would retain a majority stake in TikTok’s assets and control the closely guarded algorithm that determines what clips users seeThe new company will hold an initial public offering in about a yearHow the parties are addressing security concernsOracle will review TikTok’s full source code and updates to make sure there are no back doors that could be used by ByteDance to gather data or spy on the app’s 100 million or so American usersOracle will be able to continue to review the technology as updates come in to make sure there are no new points of access to the dataTikTok was able to convince the U.S. government that TikTok Global would be controlled by American investors by counting the passive stakes of existing shareholders in TikTok’s Chinese parent, people familiar with the matter said. Although Bytedance will retain an 80% stake in the new company, because existing U.S. investors hold a 40% stake in ByteDance, the math works out to 53% ownership by U.S. companies and investorsWhether Trump will get a payoutTikTok Global will use proceeds of the IPO to create a $5 billion education fund“They’re going to be setting up a very large fund,” Trump said Saturday. “That’s their contribution that I’ve been asking for”

What We Don’t Know

What China thinksThe Chinese government will also have to approve ByteDance’s plans under new restrictions Beijing imposed on the export of artificial intelligence technologies, Bloomberg News reported earlierAs of earlier this week, ByteDance was growing increasingly confident that the proposal would pass muster with Chinese regulators, people familiar with the matter told BloombergEarly reaction from Chinese state media appeared positive. “This scheme is still unfair, but it avoids the worst result that TikTok is shut down or sold to a US company completely,” wrote Hu Xijin, the influential editor in chief of China’s state-owned Global Times

Fate of the Commerce Department’s ban

The Commerce Department said Saturday it will push a ban back by one week that would bar TikTok from the Apple Inc. and Android app stores, extending the Sept. 20 deadline set by President Trump

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Oracle TikTok Investment Wins Trump's Blessing: Deal at a Glance – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Oracle Corp.’s agreement to take a stake in TikTok has won the long-awaited blessing of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The proposal, which would give Oracle and other investors minority ownership of a new company called TikTok Global, still needs approval from regulators in China, where TikTok’s parent ByteDance Ltd. is based.

Trump’s praise for the agreement suggests that weeks-long deliberations over the fate of a popular music and video-sharing app are nearing completion. ByteDance began holding discussions with investors in its U.S. operations after the Trump administration threatened to shutter the business, saying that it poses a threat to national security.

While some of the terms remain undetermined, here’s what’s known about the deal, based on public statements and people with knowledge of the matter:

What We Know

  • Who’s in and who’s out
    • Oracle plans to take a 12.5% stake in a round of financing that would precede an IPO
    • TikTok also said that together, Oracle and Walmart Inc. could end up with as much as 20%
    • The new company, called TikTok Global, will seek a U.S. IPO and raise a pre-IPO round of financing
    • Existing Bytedance investors that could participate in the pre-IPO round include Sequoia Capital, General Altantic and Coatue Capital
    • A host of other companies made proposals or considered bidding. Microsoft Corp. was rebuffed because it wanted to control all of TikTok in the U.S., a condition that didn’t sit well with Beijing
  • What the deal looks like
    • Oracle will be TikTok’s “trusted technology provider,” meaning Oracle will house the entity’s data in its U.S. servers — a boon to a cloud computing business that has lagged behind those of Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft. It will also get access to monitor TikTok’s source code and algorithms
    • Walmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon will sit on Tiktok Global’s board and is discussing a commercial partnership with TikTok
    • TikTok Global will likely be headquartered in Texas and will hire at least 25,000 people, Trump said, without mentioning a timeline for those hires
    • ByteDance would retain a majority stake in TikTok’s assets and control the closely guarded algorithm that determines what clips users see
    • The new company will hold an initial public offering in about a year
  • How the parties are addressing security concerns
    • Oracle will review TikTok’s full source code and updates to make sure there are no back doors that could be used by ByteDance to gather data or spy on the app’s 100 million or so American users
    • Oracle will be able to continue to review the technology as updates come in to make sure there are no new points of access to the data
    • TikTok was able to convince the U.S. government that TikTok Global would be controlled by American investors by counting the passive stakes of existing shareholders in TikTok’s Chinese parent, people familiar with the matter said. Although Bytedance will retain an 80% stake in the new company, because existing U.S. investors hold a 40% stake in ByteDance, the math works out to 53% ownership by U.S. companies and investors
  • Whether Trump will get a payout
    • TikTok Global will use proceeds of the IPO to create a $5 billion education fund
    • “They’re going to be setting up a very large fund,” Trump said Saturday. “That’s their contribution that I’ve been asking for”

What We Don’t Know

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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UAE Makes Appointments to Investment Body, UN Aviation Group – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The United Arab Emirates appointed new heads to several federal committees, as well as a permanent representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The UAE’s prime minister, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, named Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi as head of the federal committee for direct investment, according to the official news agency WAM. Saeed Mohammed Al Suwaidi was named as permanent representative for the UAE at the United Nations’ civil aviation body known as ICAO, WAM reported.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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