An Edmonton CEO is reintroducing generosity at a time when businesses are being squeezed by COVID-19, inflationary costs, and a roller coaster of supply-chain challenges.
Tim Carwell, owner and president of The CommAlert Group, is giving away a two-year lease on a large, fully-furnished office presently sitting empty. Located on the 11th floor of the RBC Building on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton, it provides sweeping views from the conference room, central common area, and three adjoining office spaces.
The package includes 2,300 square feet of office space, furniture, office equipment, printer, and Internet connection with the lease and Internet service paid for by The CommAlert Group for two years. The keys to the office are available as early as Jan. 1, 2022.
“All you have to do is bring your laptop and start working,” said Carwell, a citizen of Beaver First Nation.
Dubbed the Goodwill Project, it was conceived after CommAlert moved out of its downtown Edmonton office in January 2020 due to the pandemic. Staff successfully transitioned to working remotely and for the time being the company has opted not to return to a conventional office setting.
The project targets businesses that have been active for fewer than five years. The office space lends itself to white-collar enterprises such as software companies, management consultant firms, human resources offices, charities, and not-for-profits, however, it is not limited to these ventures.
All businesses within the metro Edmonton area, including those in the St. Albert and surrounding area, that fall within the accepted criteria are invited to enter.
“It’s wide open. My personal belief is that a diverse business is going to be the future. So, I want to support that. It’s not an Aboriginal-first [concept]. It is an Aboriginal philosophy to take care of people and the Earth and all those types of things. It’s open to anybody,” Carwell said.
He estimates the project’s dollar value at between $150,000 to $200,000.
“There’s so much negativity out there. People are trying to pull people apart, picking off different sides, and we wanted to be a spark of inspiration to other businesses and people. CommAlert did very well over the pandemic because we are emergency services. Our business is growing and we’re actually hiring. We felt compelled to do more and help those who need a hand. And to be honest, I have gotten so much help throughout my life by amazing entrepreneurs, I felt I needed to give back.”
The CommAlert Group is a 24-hour call service that specializes in emergency services, emergency communications, emergency call answering, mass notifications, and lone-worker monitoring. One of the company’s most influential projects was the 2013 High Level flood, where a team worked for 18 months with first responders and health-care professionals assisting people return to their homes.
“Right now, we’ve had a few calls coming from different locations in B.C. Right now, they are in a state of emergency. Typically, we come in after the emergency has been lifted and kind of work in between — like a triage, for lack of a better term.”
Originally a Calgary-based business, Carwell first purchased CommAlert in 2007.
“At that time, leases were very expensive in Calgary and Calgary was on a flood plain. So, I figured if we were going to be a response company, we shouldn’t be where floods can happen. We moved to Edmonton in 2010. In 2013 we were proved right.”
Currently, CommAlert is a global entity providing far-reaching support. But there is no doubt that working in Edmonton's downtown has provided important networking opportunities.
“We’re central to everything. At 104th Street you can see the new arena. We're right in the middle of the financial district. There are lots of meetings and people have lunches talking about business. It’s hugely valuable being a fly on the wall and running into some of the people and developing your network. It’s huge.”
Interested businesses can complete an entry at www.commalert.com/goodwill before Dec. 10. Five entries will be selected to deliver a live pitch to The Goodwill Project Panel on Dec. 16.
“The companies that get to make the pitch are the ones that have a big, big plan to change the world, and how diverse their team is in contributing to their mission and their values. Those are the two key things we’re looking for.”
Six community leaders and businesswomen will make the final decision. They are Lazina Mckenzie (Threshold Impact); Kristina Milke (Sprout Fund); Tannis Carwell (ATB Financial Advisor); Cheryll Watson (Edmonton Economic Development); Debbie Gust (WOW! Factor Desserts); and Lynsae Moon (The Nook Café).