Hurme, a local of Helsinki, is the brand new Chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

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This article has been published 06/10/2017 (1388 days ago) the information it contains may no longer be current.

It was a student exchange program that brought Helsinki teen Johanna Hurme to Manitoba for a year in the early 1990s – and it was love that brought her back the following year.

“I was actually a high school exchange student in rural Manitoba from 1993-94,” the new Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce chairman said in an interview after the chamber’s 2017 general meeting on Thursday.

Johanna Hurme says that the revitalization of the inner city and the urban infill development are topics that she will address as the chamber chairwoman.

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WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Johanna Hurme says that the revitalization of the inner city and the urban infill development are topics that she will address as the chamber chairwoman.

“I was kind of a farmer’s daughter for a year and learned a lot about Manitoba culture.”

While she described her host family as “amazing” for that year, Hurme said that wasn’t why she decided to move to Manitoba permanently the following year. “I fell in love with a Canadian this year and love takes you back and forth.”

Upon her return, she enrolled in the architecture program at the University of Manitoba and eventually graduated with not only a master’s degree in architecture, but also a bachelor’s degree in environmental design.

After graduating, she got a job at an architecture firm in Winnipeg (Cohlmeyer Architects). About five years later, she and her architect Sasa Radulovic left their own company – 5468796 Architecture.

While it was love for one particular person that brought her back to Canada, Hurme said it was her love for her adopted home – Winnipeg – that has kept her here for the past 22 years.

“Since then I have become a person who has become really proud to be a Winnipegger – (one) who sees the opportunity in this city and has certainly benefited from the opportunities in this city.”

One of those opportunities was the chance to join the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. She found that when she and Radulovic first started their business, she and Radulovic had very few connections in the city. But they have many today, thanks in part to their company’s membership in the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Johanna Hurme, co-founder of 5468796 Architecture, was sworn in at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting on Thursday as the new Chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. </p>
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<p>WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Johanna Hurme, co-founder of 5468796 Architecture, was sworn in at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting on Thursday as the new Chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. </p>
<p>“The chamber for me is the modern agora or forum where important conversations take place and new connections are made,” she said.  “It’s an incubator for new ideas.”			</p>
<p>As an architect and specialist in environmental design, Hurme has pushed for a pedestrian-friendly, bike-friendly city center, with an emphasis on design in civic projects and on more fill development rather than more suburbs.			</p>
<p>Her company also played a prominent role in the ongoing effort to revitalize downtown Winnipeg through its involvement in a number of innovative downtown housing projects, including the You Cube 61M condominium projects on Waterfront Drive, the James Avenue Pumping Station redevelopment project, also on Waterfront Drive, the Avenue Building and Sterling Building residential development on Portage Avenue, and the proposed Railside mixed-use development for the north end of The Forks.			</p>
<p>Hurme said downtown revitalization and more urban infill development compared to more suburbs are also issues she will address as chamber chairwoman.			</p>
<p>“We have to align our growth and create more density, more liveliness and more excitement. We have to create a livelier city because that is what visitors will identify with when they come here.”			</p>
<p>Hurme replaces the outgoing chairman Wadood Ibrahim, co-founder of the Protegra business community.			</p>
<p>In his last speech as chairman, Ibrahim noted that the chamber’s membership had exceeded 2,100 this year.  The 144-year-old organization also ended its fiscal year with the highest surplus ($ 57,000) recently.			</p>
<p>murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca			</p>
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