(Photos courtesy of snapd Dartmouth)
By Susan Eldridge
It began over a latte in May 2012. The discussion was about the isolation sometimes felt during the work day by women who work on their own, in their homes or on the road, as well as the challenges that women face as business owners which can be different from those faced by men. I had been organizing networking events for my previous employer which gave me ample exposure to other business women (and men), their ideas, tips and humour. Now I was working on my own and the people I worked with were spread across Atlantic Canada making for days filled with email and phone calls with little face-to-face contact. I missed the inspiration, energy and bonding that comes over a cup of coffee or tea with other business women.
At the time, my business partner, Melita Scott, had just opened Café Brea, and felt the same way as a new business owner. She heard the same laments from her clientele, especially women who came in for coffee during their business day. We decided to invite other business women to join us for an evening of networking over coffee, and to invite a woman business owner or leader from our community to share her story. Our first event was in June 2012. The event was a success, so we have continued to host similar events. The focus is about business women supporting and sharing with other business women and we’ve stayed true to that message. We knew that we had to come up with a name, so after countless cups of coffee, we both agreed that Business Women Connect (BWC) suited us best, since our goal is to empower women to connect, collaborate and succeed in business!
The events have continued to catch on and we were thrilled when they started to sell out! Our speakers have shared their stories with grace, laughter, and heartfelt integrity. They have answered questions from participants and been open and honest about both their challenges and successes. We try to ensure that everyone feels welcome, that nobody stands in the corner alone, and that everyone has a chance to meet others and share their unique message.
At most of our events, each woman is invited to stand and introduce herself – to give her 30-second elevator pitch. We use a timer and let everyone know beforehand that we will “buzz” them at 30 seconds! It really is a great learning experience for all participants. It is a safe, friendly environment in which to practice this and numerous women have begun with “Ok, this is a new pitch I’ve been working on so let me know what you think!” Others have been so nervous that they’ve forgotten to say their name. That’s where we come in! We are there to ask questions when needed to make sure everyone is equally featured and to make sure that everyone gets the most out of the experience.
BWC has put the in-person touch back into my work life again and I look forward to every one of our events and meeting each of our participants! We have an amazingly diverse world of female enterprises in Halifax (and across Nova Scotia) and it is wonderful to get to know so many of these women and their businesses! As we often hear: people buy from those they know, like and trust.
Our next event is a little different than usual – on December 3rd we’re pleased to say that we will be hosted at Mills Brothers on Spring Garden Road by the four women who recently purchased this iconic Halifax business. The event will take place in the evening from 6:30 – 9:00 and will include a chance to explore and shop at this lovely new store after the networking event.
We’re looking forward to hearing the story of what drove these women to make their decision to partner, purchase, and move the store to its current location; to network with other business women; and while networking discover who we can work with, buy from, or support in our business community.
It is so important that women businesses support, promote, recommend, or buy from each other. BWC allows one more opportunity in Halifax to connect, collaborate and succeed. We look forward to continuing to get to know these wonderful businesses.
All women are welcome to attend – for more information or to purchase a ticket, please click here.
Susan Eldridge is currently the co-owner of Business Women Connect and the Executive Director for the Atlantic ÉCONOMUSE® Network. She has owned and operated her own business, worked in the field of business development and training with immigrant entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs, artisanal businesses, and other small businesses over the past 13 years in Halifax. She sits on the CEED Loan Review Committee and the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network (EDN) Board of Directors and is always looking for new ways to get involved in the HRM business community.
The shifting demand in Halifax
By Ryan MacLeod
Halifax’s housing market has shown a shift to rentals since the recession, with apartments dominating new starts, and rental rates showing more subdued growth as a result. New supply of apartment units was abundant in 2011 and 2012, with new apartment unit starts well above their 10-year annual average and so far in 2013, new apartment construction has shown no signs of slowing down, as starts from January to September have already exceeded the annual average. Meanwhile, new starts of single-detached units have been much tamer, with starts below the 10-year annual average each year since the 2009 recession.
Why the shift? It appears that the shift in new supply from single-detached housing to rental apartments is demand-driven. CMHC has noted that the recent shift in demand is due to multiple factors. Positive net-migration to the city provides a boost in apartment demand, as new migrants tend to be apartment renters. The aging population also provides a boost to apartment demand, as some recent empty-nesters choose to downsize and are drawn to the low-maintenance, single-floor living offered by apartments. Finally, stunted full-time employment growth in the years since the recession has at least temporarily limited the ability of some would-be home owners to purchase their first home, while comparatively strong growth in part-time employment tends to support rental markets.
Despite growing demand for apartment rentals, strong supply growth has increased vacancy rates in recent years. In 2012, the apartment vacancy rate in Halifax was 3.0%, above the average of 2.6% reported by CMHC for 35 census metropolitan areas across the country. While the average vacancy rate is forecast to remain steady in 2013 and 2014, it is forecast to grow in Halifax.
What does this mean for affordability? A higher vacancy rate is actually a good thing for rental affordability, as excess supply in the market helps to relieve some of the upward pressure on rent caused by increased demand. While average rents are forecast to continue to grow over the next two years, the rate of growth has slowed since 2011 and is expected to continue to do so.
Increased apartment vacancies in Halifax have come at a good time. With major project activity expected to continue growing in the coming years, related employment growth should continue to support migration to Halifax, and as the average age of the population continues to climb, the tastes of retired empty-nesters will likely continue to shift to apartment-style living. Current growth in apartment supply should leave the city’s rental market well-positioned to absorb increased demand in the future without putting too much upward pressure on rents.
View the Partnership's latest economic snapshot here.
Ryan joined the Partnership in September 2013, as an Economist and Project Development Specialist. In his role, Ryan is responsible for conducting research and delivering measurable results in support of the organization’s business plans and the Economic Strategy. This includes leading the development of the Halifax Index, as well as producing project proposals and reports, monitoring economic trends in Halifax, and responding to investor information requests.
By Alicia Fraser
For the fourth year in a row, the Partnership, MQO Research and Metro Halifax partnered to conduct the CityMatters survey with Halifax residents. The survey was designed to find out what residents are saying about Halifax’s economy, technology, municipal politics, and a range of other key topics. Not surprisingly, results showed that we have great education opportunities (8.1), are interesting and appealing to visitors (8) and Halifax is a great place to raise a family (7.9). But what else are residents saying?
Here are a few highlights...
Downtown Revitalization: Key
More than 80 per cent of respondents want to see the downtown core revitalized, which aligns closely with the goals and objectives of AGREATERHalifax. Events like Dog Days of Summer and the Big Day Downtown are helping to show that the city is working towards becoming a more vibrant and eventful place. There is work to be done, but new initiatives like these noted above and large developments such as Nova Centre and the Central Library, shows that the tides are turning and progress in the heart of our city is moving in the right direction.
Mayor Mike Savage: Successful First Year
Did you know that Mayor Mike Savage is HRM’s first new mayor in 12 years? Respondents are embracing the change and his dedication to Halifax and motivation for making this an even greater place to live. A significant portion of the population, 40% of respondents, gave the Mayor's performance a score of 8 or higher in his first year. What’s his secret? Being himself and giving credit where it’s due.
Police Services: High in the Rankings
Halifax Regional Police have a lot to celebrate. They were given the highest ranking, a 7.5, of any municipal service. Much of this success is accredited to their increased training and education that has allowed them to deal with more issues than ever before, such as mental health and other social issues. Sgt. Mark Hartlen believes fully that the force is capable of facing these challenging issues but urges senior members of the force to keep in mind to not borrow resources from areas that residents are unwilling to compromise on.
Also of note in the realm of public safety, 90 per cent of respondents indicated that they feel mostly or very safe in the downtown core.
Metro Transit: More Changes Coming
Metro Transit scores rose from 6.0 to 6.3. What is noteworthy is that the number of respondents who gave a score of 8 or higher was 33 per cent – a 9% increase from last year. This shows that there is a positive shift in confidence in Metro Transit's service. Where does Metro Transit go from here? Well, recently a major public consultation was completed to shape the next five-years for the organization. Expected changes include long overdue technology and service upgrades. If you are a commuter like I am, these changes, will be a welcome improvement to our daily commute.
Proposed Projects: Looking Ahead
Respondents not only rated current services but they were asked to choose one of three proposed projects that they would like to see most. The projects included in the survey were a commuter rail, ferry or aquarium. 53% want to see a commuter rail implemented. The benefit would be that downtown could become more accessible for everyone. A feasibility study using existing rail lines from Bedford to the south end has been approved. For now the project is simply an idea but it will be interesting to see where it goes.
If you want to learn more about City Matters 2013 view Metro Halifax articles and other resources here.
(Originally published in Business Voice)
A city that is as attractive and diverse as the nature that surrounds us
By Paul Kent
A colleague recently said, “When people come to Halifax, they want to stay.” How true! The opportunity our unique size presents for work-life balance, our alluringly easy access to nature, creative culture, entrepreneurial spirit, deep academic and military roots and status as an economic hub distinguishes Halifax locally and internationally.
In our competitive world, the ability to tell our story to more people and in more places is a critical strategy to bolster and sustain growth. One part of achieving this success is linked to how we present ourselves.
Halifax’s five-year economic strategy clearly states a need for the city to have an internationally recognized brand that reflects our best qualities and what we aspire to be. The Partnership broadly consulted businesses, academia, not-for-profits and government during the strategy’s development.
These sectors verified the need for a brand which better positions Halifax as competitive and successful in the global market for jobs, talent, investment and tourism. Work is underway on brand development through a joint effort of HRM and the Partnership. Look for public and stakeholder engagement this fall, with our expectation of the new brand being ready for review and approval by HRM Regional Council in early 2014.
Another key way to tell our story internationally is through strategic partnerships and trade missions. On July 30, 2013, the Consider Canada City Alliance (CCCA), an alliance of Canada’s 11 largest cities of which Halifax is one, signed an agreement with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade to support increased trade and investment between our two countries.
CCCA helps international companies determine best strategies for business expansion in Canada and improves our country’s ability to attract new investment and trade opportunities.The first major trade mission took place in May, 2012 with a follow up mission in April 2013 to Hong Kong, Shēnzhen and Beijing where Halifax gained a number of qualified leads which the Partnership is actively working.
Halifax is also a member of the World Energy Cities Partnership (WECP), an organization of cities that have a core focus on energy (oil, gas, and renewable). Halifax and Aberdeen, Scotland, are among the 18 international cities that are members of WECP. In early September, Mayor Savage met with the Lord Provost of Aberdeen, George Adam, to sign an MOU between the two cities to pursue opportunities of common interest. Signing took place at the Offshore Europe Conference in Aberdeen.
While nurturing international relationships and attracting new investment is key to growing Halifax’s economy, so is facilitating the growth of existing businesses. Many of us do not realize that more than 850 companies in Nova Scotia export products and services around the world. Nova Scotia Business Inc. helps Nova Scotia companies enter international markets. This fall there are trade missions to Aruba and Brazil with many more on the horizon.
Part of our international success and long-term economic growth is also linked to each of us being ambassadors for Halifax — promoting Halifax’s competitive advantages and sharing our affection for our city and region. The Partnership has developed a suite of materials to market Halifax as a location of choice for business and talent. Your business is welcome to use the industry profiles, videos, success stories and GIS tool found at whyhalifax.com or contact us for customized or more in-depth information.
Working in partnership and with a common purpose, we can build on our strengths and make Halifax a truly international city that is as attractive and diverse as the nature that surrounds us.
By Nancy Phillips
When U.S. retail giant Target announced its major expansion into Canada, it chose Armour Transportation Systems as its distribution partner for Atlantic Canada. The contract with Target, along with an expanding roster of clients, is driving Armour’s growth.
“We are extremely pleased to be enjoying this new business with Target and a number of new accounts,” said Wes Armour, president and CEO of Armour Transportation Systems.
The company is adding 100,000 sq. ft. to its 150,000 sq. ft. warehouse in the Halifax Logistics Park.“The Halifax Logistics Park is the perfect location to meet our new and existing business growth,” said Mr. Armour.
Armour’s logistics and transloading operation sits on 40 acres in a prime location. It is close to the bridge for servicing freight arriving through the Port of Halifax and it offers easy access to the highway routes in all directions outside the city.
Armour Transportation System’s core service is connecting Atlantic Canada with key trading partners in Ontario, Quebec, Western Canada, the United States and Mexico. This expansion allows Armour to service domestic customers such as Target, Halifax Port customers, and meet the logistics demands of the mining industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The company has recently purchased Way’s Transport and RJS Terminal Limited to expand its services across Newfoundland. Through multiple acquisitions Armour has grown its family of companies and built an extensive network of terminals and equipment. This enables Armour Transportation Systems to offer both truckload and less-than-truckload (LTL) service.
“By acting on behalf of our customers and partner carriers, our combined relationships give us added volume, creating higher efficiencies. It also extends our reach throughout North America and everyone benefits as a result,” explained Mr. Armour.
Today, Armour Transportation Systems has over 4,000 pieces of equipment and 1,900 employees and is recognized as one of the top transportation and logistics companies in the country. Armour also provides several specialized services including temperature controlled trucking, intermodal rail, container drayage, logistics, courier, warehousing, and cross-docking.
There are over $100 billion in mega projects underway in Atlantic Canada and the Halifax Gateway is a key piece of the region’s economic infrastructure. The collaborative approach of its partners, like Armour Transportation Systems, facilitates the Halifax Gateway’s ability to offer a one-stop-shop for companies to reach international markets.
In her role as Director, Business Development, Nancy brings considerable experience to the Partnership’s strategic activities as they relate to business attraction, trade development and international markets.
Nancy also provides strategic management to the Halifax Gateway Council, acting as Executive Director to the public/private group formed to pursue multi-modal transportation opportunities in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Originally published in the Nov. 2013 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal
By Fred Morley
Success requires that we understand our economic ecosystem
There are lots of genuinely new ideas for growing cities and communities. In fact, I have some new favourites.
The first is a concept from Brad Feld who published the ground-breaking book “Start-up Community” last year. Feld speaks to the vital role entrepreneurs play in the growth of communities and how governments can either help or hurt this process. The second is the concept of “Economic Gardening” popularized by the Edward Lowe Foundation.
Start-up communities need start-ups and entrepreneurs. But that’s not enough to ensure success. Feld’s “Boulder Thesis” (Feld is based in Boulder, Colorado) suggests that successful start-up communities have four elements:
1 The start-up community is entrepreneur led. These entrepreneurs have to be networked in a very real sense. Partnership attitudes are required. Zero sum mentality (the notion that there must be one winner and one loser; for every gain there is a loss) is a start-up community killer.
2 Communities have to commit for the long term. Building a start-up community is a 20-year process and doesn’t adapt well to the three- or four-year cycle of government. It’s why start-up communities can’t be led by governments.
3 Start-up communities are not an exclusive club but are open to anyone who wants to join. Those that can’t partner or have zero sum or “old school” compete-with-my-neighbour attitudes are quickly excluded.
4 Activities and events are important. But they can’t be the old school cocktail receptions, awards banquets and speaker of the month clubs. Think more start-up weekends and hackathons.
Feld distinguishes between “leaders” (the entrepreneurs who must lead the process) and “feeders” (organizations like government, NGOs, universities, suppliers and basically everybody else). His basic observation is that feeders can’t lead. Governments sometimes try this but they are hierarchal and slow moving. Start-up communities are networked and move fast.
So we need entrepreneurs to lead growth in our communities and we need to support them as much as possible. Businesses invest more in business lines that generate the best results; we need to rejig our business support structures to do exactly that. This doesn’t mean picking winners. That’s not required because winners pick themselves. It’s pretty easy for communities that have active business outreach programs, like Halifax’s Smart Business program, to identify companies that are consistently growing by more than 20 per cent a year.
Many successful communities focus economic gardening programs on exactly these kinds of companies. The Edward Lowe Foundation in the U.S. runs economic gardening programs in 42 states, so it is not an experimental concept. It’s just new to us. These kinds of programs encourage business networks, peer-to-peer learning often through business accelerators. Accelerators put promising business leaders from hyper-growth companies through a comprehensive assessment and a kind of boot camp for business where key skills are learned and shared.
Concepts like start-up communities and economic gardening all have one thing in common, a much deeper understanding of the nature and needs of successful business and successful communities. These kinds of ideas recognize that business and communities prosper or fail because of the business ecosystems they exist in. Success requires more than simple ideas and short-term band-aids. Success requires that we understand our economic ecosystem.
You might also be interested in:
Fred Morley is the executive vice president and chief economist of the Greater Halifax Partnership. He has written over 100 articles on economic growth issues and presented his views to dozens of organizations and governments around the world. You can reach Fred at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Elizabeth Nicoll
Urban sprawl. These two little words have caused quite the heated discussion recently amongst many Haligonians, resulting in a sweeping debate on the future of HRM. As development moves further and further away from downtown, it becomes more expensive for municipalities to function. Increased costs for municipalities never end favourably for the taxpayer. With HRM’s Regional Plan five year review now underway, it can be instructive to look at the urban growth strategies in other municipalities.
The city of Toronto, as well as Ontario as a whole, has taken considerable action towards urban growth planning. Through various Acts, Ontario has identified and designated ‘growth plan areas’, and the development of strategic growth plans for specific communities. These growth plans include decisions on how the land would be developed, how resources are to be managed and where public dollars are invested. This has mainly been a provincial initiative, but there was significant cooperation with the various affected municipalities. To go along with this, the province also has set out the rules for land use planning in Ontario and clearly designates what role each level of government takes. Southern Ontario has also developed a greenbelt to constrict growth. On the municipal level, Toronto has implemented policies which the city is obligated to follow in regard to various areas of planning, such as the usage of green space and land use designations.
Another big city which has been actively dealing with urban ‘growth’ is Vancouver. Vancouver implemented a Regional Growth Strategy in 2011, through ‘Metro Vancouver’, a political and corporate entity which operates under provincial legislation. The Local Government Act establishes the authority for the growth strategy, which provides land use framework for planning related to utilities, transportation and housing. Similar to Ontario, Vancouver’s growth strategy clearly indicates which level of government will help with each aspect of the strategy – for example, federal is responsible to provide funding for airports and ports, and the province aids in transportation planning, education and health facilities.The Stantec report, written by Stantec Consulting, has spearheaded the discussion on urban ‘growth’ in Halifax. The report estimates the total amount of money which HRM could save by centralizing growth is staggering - $670 million over the next twenty years, if 25% of new housing begins in the Regional Centre.The main argument against urban growth planning is that if we constrict growth to a certain area, people will choose to live outside of that area but continue to work in the downtown core. This is undesirable since people will choose to live where property taxes are lower and yet still benefit from services inside the core. It is important that people have a choice to live where they like, but the savings to be realized by focusing our growth on the urban core are too great to ignore, and strategies must be found to address the issues related to growth outside of the urban core, such as an increase in transportation infrastructure, and how these are funded.
The Regional Plan was implemented in 2007, and this five year review is crucial. There has been great progress but evidently much more needs to be done. The Vancouver and Toronto cases show that in order for the Plan to be successful, it will require strong communication and partnerships between many different areas of government and corporations. It is important to note that clear guidelines have been created for land use, transportation, etc. as well as the collaborative governance system that is practiced in these cities. The Stantec report and the Regional Plan is a tremendous start to achieving this, and Halifax’s downtown core has seen many promising developments in the past few years. The future of HRM is exciting, and once we begin to realize the potential we have there will be no stopping us.
Read the full article here.
By Robyn Bews
Preface: Its confession time: I tried a few times to carve out some time to write this blog in my downtown office- even putting it in my calendar so I would discipline myself to do it. But despite my best efforts I kept getting interrupted and distracted by my beloved but ever extroverted and social colleagues. So, as the Executive Director of WORKshift, I packed up my things and came home to enjoy the solitude of my home office.
Makes sense: write a blog about working remotely from somewhere other than my downtown office (duh-uh).
WORKshift (noun): a management strategy that encourages employees to work where and when they are most effective with a focus on results rather than “presenteeism”.
Nearly 5 years ago with the leadership of Calgary Economic Development we launched WORKshift in Calgary. Our objective was to “accelerate the adoption of flexible and remote work in the Calgary business community”. We believed the research that supported this practice of part-time remote work can improve employee productivity and retention, that it supported organizations in their quest to optimize their real estate (2nd biggest expense next to employees) and would improve the overall livability of Calgary by reducing unnecessary commutes.
Guess what? It worked. Organizational leaders including those from Human Resources, IT and most often Real Estate and Facilities Management began to connect with us. They too saw the irrefutable trends towards an increasingly mobile world. For example, did you know that a quarter of all meetings are now conducted virtually? Don’t believe me? How do you conduct meetings with your partners and clients that don’t work in the same city as you? What percent of day do you spend actually sitting at your desk? Well, the research says in your average office are only occupied 45% of the time! The rest of the day employees are in coffee shops collaborating, on partner sites, in a boardroom, on an airplane… etc! Think about your own work day and test the theory.
Not only did Calgary organizations get engaged and excited about the opportunities that WORKshift offered their company, employees and community but we started to get interest from other cities and countries wishing to leverage the brand and approach.
We are excited to be launching WORKshift across Canada. This social enterprise is solely dedicated to supporting workplace transformation. And while we recognize that while it all starts with awareness and education, companies need more than that to implement.
The most common question we get from leaders is “where do we start, what is the roadmap to success?” So, in partnership with our Founders KPMG, Citrix and Shaw Business we are on a path to developing a standards-based organization that will do exactly that: create a roadmap. I like to say that we will do for the workforce what LEED did for buildings 15 years ago.
We are so excited to be launching WORKshift with our partners from SmartTrip so that organizations in Halifax will be situated to take advantage of our relationships, expertise, tools and resources.
The inaugural kick-off event in Halifax will take place on November 6th and features a panel of national experts in areas such as change management, real estate and technology who will engage in an interactive dialogue about WORKshift adoption. For tickets to this free event, please visit this link: https://futureofworkhalifax.eventbrite.ca/.
While born in Calgary, Robyn has a commerce degree from Acadia University. She has worked as a marketer for multinational organizations including Calgary Economic Development, TELUS Communications and the United Nations.
As a result of Robyn’s leadership, advocacy and management, WORKshift has grown from Canada’s first regional telework project to a social enterprise and the defacto brand for all things related to flexible work in Canada.
By Robyn Webb
It’s hard to believe that yet another summer has come to a too-soon end in Halifax. Mornings and evenings are cooler, warm sweaters jammed in the back of our closets are reluctantly dug out, and we’re oh so close to turning on the heat in our homes. Before summer becomes a distant memory, I wanted to share a few highlights from this year’s Annual Welcome BBQ.
Halifax prides itself on being a diverse, multi-cultural, and welcoming city. Our welcome basket comes in the form of several initiatives and community events that help immigrants and newcomers feel more at home.
Creating a Welcoming Community
Halifax Regional Council has made diversity and creating a welcoming community priorities for our city. In May 2005 Council adopted this vision:
“Halifax Regional Municipality is a welcoming community where immigration is supported and encouraged. Halifax Regional Municipality will work with other levels of government and community partners to increase our collective cultural, social and economic diversity by welcoming immigrants to our community.”
This led to the creation of the Annual Welcome BBQ. In its first year the event was a fairly small potluck style event, where people came together for conversation and to share traditions. Fast-forward eight years, and although still based on the same values, this annual event has truly become a large celebration of multiculturalism and community.
Halifax at its Best
The Annual Welcome BBQ has grown and matured in all aspects including planning, attendance, entertainment, and community spirit. On Saturday July 7, 2013 approximately 1000 community members - including new Canadians, citizens, families, international students, permanent residents, visitors, organizations, and businesses - filled the South Halifax Commons to join HRM in welcoming newcomers and celebrating Halifax's diversity.
Dedicated businesses and organizations throughout Halifax participated in planning this year's event. Committee members for 2013 included Greater Halifax Partnership, Halifax Regional Municipality, Saint Mary’s African Student Society, Boyne Clarke and Scotiabank.
The day was jam-packed with entertainment. Attendees witnessed everything from exciting performances from the Samba Nova drumming group and youth rapper Hickey G, to participating in ever-popular group fitness classes such as Zumba. This made for hours of entertainment, conversation and celebration.
From all accounts the event was a hit and showed Halifax at its best – welcoming and supporting newcomers to our community. Until next year!
Robyn Webb is the Director of Business Retention and Expansion and Labour Market Development for Greater Halifax Partnership. Robyn leads theSmartBusiness team and is responsible for visiting employers in Halifax to discuss the challenges, needs and opportunities facing our business community.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
The Greater Halifax Partnership welcomes contributions from staff and guest authors. The opinions expressed by individual authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Partnership.