Smart Business

  • Giving Back
  • Friday, May 29, 2015

It’s refreshing to see how the majority of businesses today believe in giving back to the community through Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could generate revenue for your business by giving back? Or better yet, create competitive advantage?

It is entirely possible if you are open to thinking differently. This strategic philosophy is called ‘Shared Value’. I’d like to share a story how Trico Residential generated a new revenue stream by helping to create solutions to a few different social issues.

A while back, the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter (CWES) purchased an inner city former gas station site on the corner of 24th Avenue NE with the intent of building a new facility. They quickly realized the task of re-zoning and developing a new facility was no small undertaking and would require expertise they didn’t have. CWES decided to sell the site and reinvest the money from the sale into renovating their existing facility.

In this instance CWES needed to earn enough money to pay for their renovation, which put their asking price above the acceptable market value for redevelopment. Who would purchase this site at their required asking price?

Wayne Chiu of Trico Residential viewed this as a Shared Value opportunity by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture through a different lens (than a developer would). Trico evaluated the current gaps in housing and began working with Zeidler BKDI to design a building that would meet the needs of the community and fill an important void for affordable rental units in Calgary.

  • The 24th Avenue site provided a prime and desirable location for residential housing.
  • Trico had the expertise to rezone, develop and build a quality residence to meet the needs of people in the surrounding community.
  • Trico’s purchase provided the means for the Women’s Emergency Shelter to renovate their facility.
  • A five-storey building with commercial space on the main floor in this inner city location supported the City of Calgary’s growth and density objectives.
  • 40 new rental units will be added into an inner city community.

Incremental Benefits

  • Trico designated 40% of the units as affordable, below market, rentals to address Calgary’s shortage of affordable rental housing. Half of the affordable units will be fully wheelchair accessible and designated for the Accessible Housing Society, which helps to alleviate the gap in wheelchair accessible rentals. The remaining 60% of the building will be dedicated market rentals.
  • The Accessible Housing Society will rent the street level office space for their operations, as well as assume the building management duties for the residential units. This will provide an excellent, wheelchair friendly office space, in an easily accessible location plus it will provide extra income to help support their society and a potential employment opportunity for one of their clients.
  • A small company like Trico was able to create a successful public/private partnership by engaging the government and accessing available funding dollars to assist with the capital costs.

How does this benefit Trico?

Trico was able to reduce its capital cost investment and add a rental property to its portfolio that will generate long-term revenues while helping to alleviate three social issues.

Shared Value demonstrates that it is good business to make a profit by helping others.

– Wanda Palmer, VP Marketing

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