Monthly Archives November 2017

Chamber members will soon be able to take advantage of a new member benefit that will help them bridge a “digital divide” through the use of technologies designed to provide online shoppers with a 360-view of the physical premise ahead of their actual in-store experience.

The service is being offered by JoeGoPhoto, a new Chamber member based in Petrolia.

This service enables clients to have their shop photographed in a way that it can be linked to Google maps. A visitor who finds the business online can then take a visual tour, without having to leave their computer or mobile device.

Members have said they value opportunities to assist them with the challenges facing brick and mortar stores to compete in an increasingly digital world.  Working with JoeGoPhoto,  the Chamber is  excited to bring this cutting-edge technology to our  members.

For further information on this member benefit, contact Kim Inniss-Petersen, manager of Member Engagement and Retention.


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The Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Network, a nonprofit group that includes representation in Sarnia-Lambton, is reaching out to the community to determine how residents and businesses throughout the area currently use the internet.

While the online survey is completely voluntary, SWIFT officials say the information will be used to help make sure plans for improvement to internet service are consistent with the need.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce supports SWIFT’s goal of building “broadband for everyone” and encourages members to participate in the survey.

Information collected in the survey will be kept confidential and data gathered will only be used in a form that guarantees anonymity.

SWIFT, which was initially funded by the federal and provincial governments, includes partners throughout the region.

More information on SWIFT can be found on its website (


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Chamber members can now explore ways to brighten up their email correspondence through “Outstand,” a member benefit program and service that’s committed to helping businesses improve the way they communicate. Customers using Outstand can create stunning, branded messages that make a powerful connection and the right impression in any inbox.

Chamber members will be able to sign up for Outstand to integrate emails with text messaging and dramatically improve click rates. There are numerous options to automate marketing campaigns, all with new levels of personalization to stand out and accelerate relationships.

For more information on Outstand, check out their website—then contact Kim Inniss-Petersen, the Chamber’s manager of Member Engagement and Retention, to take the next step in improving your email service with special Chamber member pricing.


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December’s Business After 5, which takes place on Wednesday, December 13, is a very special version of the monthly Chamber event.

With a “Yule Shop & Mingle” theme, the event, which takes place at the Dante Club (1330 London Road) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., will feature an extra hour of networking, along with shopping for those special people on your list.

This is one of the most popular Business After 5 events of the year, made extra special in that the “holiday spirit” has settled on us all!

Having the opportunity to see what various merchants who have signed up to display their goodies (Christmas presents anyone?) puts the proverbial icing on the cake.

There is also an opportunity as part of this Business After 5 to “meet and mingle” with members of the YP Connects group.

Looking for an opportunity to take part in the shopping part of this event? A few spots are still available by contacting Kim Inniss-Petersen, the Chamber’s manager of Member Engagement and Retention.

Don’t miss out!


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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce has urged Sarnia City Council to “think outside the box” and provide leadership with a view to increasing revenue without putting additional burdens on taxpayers.

The comments from the Chamber came in the form of a letter addressed to Mayor Mike Bradley and members of Council that was delivered to City Hall ahead of budget deliberations that took place earlier this week (Nov. 20, 2017)

Chamber CEO Shirley de Silva and Chair Michael Kooy, in acknowledging that “our goals are high,” also said the vision of the Chamber and its members is clear.

“We will need to work together as a community to succeed,” said the Chamber representatives.

In the letter, the Chamber focused its comments on three areas: taxation, debt, and infrastructure.


The Chamber is advocating for revenue generation over cost reduction or increasing taxation. The organization said it supports Council’s direction to staff to research potential business incentives, including locked-in commercial tax rates and grants to offset development charges.

The Chamber advocates a “trial” period for the incentives to determine their effectiveness.


While the Chamber has congratulated the City for reducing its municipal debt, it reminded Council of its urging last year to take advantage of historically low debt and low-interest rates to invest in economic development projects. This year, it cited the partnership to redevelop the former Sarnia General Hospital site as an excellent investment that will revitalize a neighbourhood while removing what had become an eyesore, a fiscal burden, and a security risk.

The Chamber also pointed to funding for the Oversized Load Corridor by the City as a worthwhile investment.


The Chamber is pleased that Sarnia is expanding its asset management plans pointing out that there is a minimum of $240 million in repairs, upgrades, and replacements needed.

The letter concluded with a recommendation to make wise investments “to create a more prosperous community which new and existing residents are proud to call home.”

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Note: As many radio listeners already know, the Chamber, in partnership with Blackburn Radio, reaches out to the business community in a “Chamber Minute” that airs on Fridays. We thought this would be of interest to readers of the Chamber Times.

As we prepare for the holiday season, one of the very best opportunities to meet and mingle with members of the business community is coming up very soon.

It’s our “Yule Shop and Mingle” Business After 5 event—which will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 13, a week earlier than usual.

We hope you’ll join us starting at 5 p.m. at the Dante Club, located at 1330 London Road in Sarnia.

Along with the traditional goodies that are being served, we have created an opportunity to do some serious shopping, thanks to some great vendors that we’re bringing in to share our space.

There are still a few spots remaining to come on board for this experience, so don’t be bashful. Call the Chamber office today at 519-336-2400 and speak with Ana for details.

In the meantime, we wish you our very best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. It is indeed a special time of year ahead and we sincerely hope to see you on Wednesday, December 13 for a chance to offer our greetings in person.

See you there!

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Government of Canada and Government of Ontario, is offering a FREE half-day seminar that will benefit companies interested in exploring how exporting can make a positive difference in their growth trajectory.

The seminar, which takes place Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 at the Chamber’s offices at 556 Christina St. N., will run from 9 a.m. to noon.

The first 15 businesses to register will be able to attend the seminar, which is being offered by the Canada-Ontario Export Forum, Ontario’s Regional Trade Network.

The organization is a partnership of federal, provincial, municipal and non-profit organizations—all dedicated to helping Ontario companies export.

The Chamber’s Global Business Opportunities Community is hosting the seminar in its role as a facilitator of export development opportunities in Sarnia-Lambton.

Companies that attend will be able to explore ways they can assess and develop their export readiness. They will also learn what resources are available to help them achieve export success.

Participants will also receive an overview of key export support resources and partners that can help small and medium enterprises become “export ready” and export to global markets.

Registration information can be found HERE.

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Karen Minty, a new member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce through her Forty Hours business, is offering individuals the opportunity to build an effective introductory tool that she says will help set them on the right path.

Her upcoming “Elevator Pitch” seminar is one of the latest examples of how Minty is helping make a difference in the community.

The event takes place on Thursday, Nov. 30 at the offices of EXIT Realty (1323 Michigan Ave., Sarnia). The cost is $45 for the 9 a.m. to noon seminar.

To register, email Minty.

Forty Hours is Minty’s umbrella business that she says is about helping individuals and organizations create positive change in the way they present themselves.

“Together, we’ll dig deep to uncover that ‘superpower’ of yours,” said Minty. “We’ll help you to embrace that difference, push it to the forefront, and weave your story in a way that empowers you. Properly told, your story will resonate with people and draw them in as potential clients or investors.”

The “Elevator Pitch” is often can be a first step in that process.

Minty offers workshops, speaking engagements, and individual appointments as a way to help individuals present their message in a clear, concise, and engaging way.

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Three new members have come on board recently at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

We are extending a warm welcome to Bricks 4 Kidz, which uses Lego products to provide a fun, hands-on learning and building experience focused on the increasingly important STEM model (short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Critical thinking for kids is part of what makes Bricks 4 Kidz so popular.

Bricks 4 Kidz is located at 1030 Confederation St, Unit 8A. Owners Stephen Devlin and Celyn Marsh would love to hear from you. They can be contacted at (519) 381-5856.

Another new member is Young Drivers of Canada, locally operated by Alexa and Alex Pape. Previously Alex had worked with great success at Young Drivers in Ottawa. Then a year ago, the couple decided to relocate to the area to be closer to their extended family. “The risk and uncertainty of starting our own business have been so worth it,” said Alexa. “We have truly enjoyed serving Sarnia and area and plan to continue to do so for years to come.”

The third new member is Karen Minty and her fortyhours business. Minty is a professional communicator/facilitator who is featured elsewhere in this newsletter.

We warmly welcome these “newcomers” to the Chamber family!



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A special feature from Hendrik Brakel, written in his role as senior director, Economic, Financial and Tax Policy with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Boom! Canada hit 4 .5% growth in the second quarter after a torrid 3.7% expansion in Q1!

Sounds like growth in India, not a sleepy advanced economy. As a result, Canada’s deficit is lower than expected `and the government announced additional spending.

So is it time to stop worrying and pop the champagne?

There are four key drivers of this bonanza : (1) export growth thanks to the oil and gas sector ; (2) consumption, because Canadians continue to borrow and spend like there is no tomorrow; (3) housing which saw the biggest gains in 8 years; and (4) a healthy gain in business investment. The question is whether these are likely to continue?

Firstly, Canada’s exports are set to rise 8% this year, which is superb but is almost entirely driven by oil and gas sales which are up almost 42% so far this year. If you take out the petroleum sector, Canada’s exports grew just 1%.

But the export boom won’t last: the strong Loonie and US weakness caused Q3 exports to fall 11.5%, while imports fell 7.1%. Net exports will be a drag on GDP growth for the rest of 2017.

Consumption will also slow down in Q3. Retail sales fell two months in a row (July and August). And job growth slowed: just 43K jobs were created in Q3, the weakest quarter in a year, with gains entirely in the self-employment category. Private sector employment fell for the first time since 2015.

Housing has been a powerful driver of growth, but the foreign buyer tax hit Canada’s largest and fastest growing real estate market in May.

Toronto’ s home sales have fallen 35% while prices were off 20%

The effects are likely to be temporary, as we saw in Vancouver, but will surely be felt in Q3.

The star of investment spending has been the recovery in the oil and gas sector but that is also facing tough times. The National Energy Board’s expanded focus on downstream emissions has created an effective moratorium on new energy projects. TransCanada finally pulled the plug on Energy East and in the last two years, $82 billion of investment has been cancelled.

So, we can expect a sharp downturn in exports and housing alongside much weaker consumption and business investment. Statistics Canada will release Q3 growth on December 1 and we expect it to be below 1%. What should we do? How do we keep growing?

Look around the world – these are exciting times in tax policy!

France has just embarked on major tax reforms, with a 2017 budget that reduces or eliminates several business taxes, while lowering overall rates. The UK government undertook a major tax reform effort last year but backed away from the most contentious measures in April 2017. And in the US, Congressional Republicans are determined to press ahead with the biggest tax reform in 30 years, to slash the general corporate rate from 35% to 20% while eliminating certain tax credits.

What is Canada doing in the midst of our trading partners’ laser-like focus on competitiveness? We’ve just spent most of the summer in a ferocious battle over income sprinkling.

Instead, Canada could create an internationally competitive system of business taxation that rewards entrepreneurship, encourages businesses to invest in the technologies, skills, and capacity they need to grow and attracts capital and highly qualified people from around the world. That would ensure Canadian growth for generations!

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