Monthly Archives June 2018

Leading an organization as diverse as the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce makes for exciting days and the kinds of challenges come from dealing with so many people with a passion for business and creating value in the community.

It also demands focus, which is another element that creates its own sense of value in attempting to balance the heritage of leadership with a desire to continually calibrate what we’re doing with an ever-changing society.

With that in mind, we are keeping up with those changes not only to provide leadership as we identify key initiatives but to propel the organization forward and adapt our strategies to reflect our current marketplace.

You have probably come across the term “big data” on numerous occasions.  There is so much low-cost sophisticated technology available today, so why not take a closer look. While not necessarily scientific, our initial exploration reveals that visitors to our website are 54.2% female and 45.8% male.  Some 27.1 % are returning visitors, with 72.8% new to the site.  Our largest visitor age demographic falls into the 25-34 age category with 69.9% still using the desktop, followed by 22.8% using mobile devices and 7.2% tablets.

Successful Chambers of Commerce will be those that adopt development and sales strategies that understand reflect their marketplace with results that are measurable.  Our Chamber has made great strides in the last year with the development of a strategic plan that will serve as the blueprint for a renewal process for which we can all take pride.

Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll also be undergoing another part of that “renewal” in communicating key elements of the strategic plan, something that our members and, indeed, the entire community will want to understand if we are to be truly successful in creating a path to a successful future.

As we take those steps, together and individually, I believe we will all benefit from a focused approach that continues to generate the extraordinary value that the Chamber has become known for in the past.

I also believe our best days are ahead of us.   Together we are stronger!

Join with us on the journey, won’t you?

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The City of Sarnia has published online a comprehensive guide to this fall’s municipal election, with instructions and a list of planned information sessions.

The page on the City’s website is designed to help citizens become familiar with the new methods for internet and telephone voting that will take place between 9 a.m. on October 11 through 8 p.m. on October 22. The voting can take place anytime (24/7) between those dates and times.

For the first time ever, voters will be able to cast a ballot for Mayor, City/County Councillors, City Councillors, and School Board Trustees, with voting by telephone, smartphone, tablet, or computer, with the intention being to provide an accessible, environmentally-friendly and convenient way to vote.

While full details are available online, the City is also holding a series of information sessions to help with the transition.

City staff have also indicated they will be happy to host information sessions for Chamber members. Contact the Chamber office if your business has an interest in having a session held.

Dates, times and locations for the public sessions can be found online at the City’s website.

The Sarnia Votes page on the City’s website is extensive in its resources for candidates and voters.

 

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It’s taken six years for Sarnia to get “in the queue” for a little sprucing up adjacent to Highway 402 overpasses at Indian Road and Christina Street, but for the Communities in Bloom Committee at the City, it will be worth the wait.

Sarnia Councillor Anne Marie Gillis (pictured), who chairs the committee, said she had no doubt that the work, which will include the planting of pines, maples, birches, spruce and other species, would eventually take place.

It was two years ago that the committee began a push for the 402 beautification project, the intention being to help drive tourism at the key entry point from Michigan and beyond into Ontario.

At one point, there were concerns that Sarnia had been “forgotten” but Gillis said it was really an issue of this area getting in line.

Eventually, says Gillis, along with “lots and lots of discussion,” Sarnia was bumped up to the point where the work will begin as early as this fall, although it could be pushed to next spring (there is, after all, only one landscape architect with the Ministry of Transportation, which is footing the $150,000 bill).

In the meantime, the Chamber salutes all who have worked hard on the Communities in Bloom Committee to make this announcement a reality.

Photo by Tyler Kula, Sarnia Observer, used with permission.

 

 

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Tariffs. Trade talks. Pipelines. Electoral change. While the Canadian economy continues to grow (albeit somewhat slowly), these are just some of the factors that might slow it down. As we head into summer, and the mid-point of 2018, now is a good time to take stock of Canada’s economic performance and consider what the latter half of the year might have in store for us.

The economy stumbled into 2018, slogging its way through weak consumer spending and housing markets. Real GDP increased at a pace of 1.3% in the first three months of 2018—the slowest quarterly growth in nearly two years. The Canadian economy grew at less than a 2% rate for the third consecutive quarter, a far cry from the nearly 4% average between July 2016 and June 2017.

The good news is that economic growth seems poised to accelerate. While the cumulative result was disappointing, the quarter finished strong with February GDP up 0.4% month-over-month, followed by a 0.3% increase in March. Exports increased 1.6% in April, a good sign for an economy that will need export markets to make a bigger contribution to growth in place of consumer spending. This encouraging finish has hastened confidence that the economy is improving with stronger momentum going into Q2.

The bad news is that uncertainty about a variety of economic issues is weighing on business investment. Any optimism about the economy taking a turn for the better is tempered by the risk that uncertainty will drive investment away from Canada. Imports declined in April, indicating that business investment and domestic demand were scaled back during the month.

Ongoing insecurity about trade policies continues to cast a shadow over Canada’s outlook. The recent steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the United States—and the Canadian retaliation— are increasing investors’ concerns about the future of NAFTA, and even what a U.S. withdrawal would mean for Canada. With a new government in Ontario, Canada will have its work cut out to maintain a united front in response to further possible retaliatory measures.

Further complicating matters are the extraordinary measures taken by the federal government to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline—a step that never should have been necessary. This is another sign that we need to take a long hard look at our broken regulatory system and ensure Canada remains an attractive place to invest and do business.

These developments have heightened the existing doubts about Canada’s business competitiveness. The Canadian tax system is losing relative competitiveness compared to its peers due to recent tax reform in the United States and France. Significant uncertainty also surrounds how the Canada Revenue Agency will assess the new small business tax changes in the 2018 Budget. These factors are causing business investors to seek other markets or sit on their wallets.

The outlook for business investment is crucial because everything else the Bank of Canada usually considers in monetary policy decisions suggests the economy can handle higher borrowing costs. The central bank has been cautious thus far but recently signalled that higher interest rates will be warranted and that the governing council will take a gradual approach to policy adjustments.

The current data on economic growth supports this. Canadian households may be able to manage rising mortgage and consumer debt, as long as Canada’s economy continues to grow and unemployment remains relatively low. However, the risk that Canada’s economic prospects and investor confidence can be derailed by any number of uncertain issues remains high. The IMF’s recent mission to Canada concluded that our economic outlook is subject to significant risks—including a sharp correction in the housing market and a banking system with heavy exposure to household and corporate debt.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Crystal Ball Report predicted uncertainty for Canada’s economic and political outlook in 2018. Financial and economic imbalances have created a tenuous economic recovery. Rising protectionism has the potential to escalate into a trade war. Markets and business models are being disrupted by new technologies and opportunities. Overall, Canadian businesses are grappling with the speed of change. Adding to this, Canada’s economic performance in the first half of 2018 demonstrates that one of the few certainties in today’s economy is an enduring state of uncertainty.

This “Five Minutes for Business” was provided by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, of which the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is a member.

 

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The Sarnia Lambton Business Development Corporation is hosting the live finale presentations of its “Win This Space” contest next Wednesday, June 20, with the winner to receive a free storefront space for a year.

The event will take place at the Lambton College Event Centre, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

There is no fee for entrance and light refreshments will be served.

The project is funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southwestern Ontario.

Sponsors include Libro Credit Union and its Libro Prosperity Fund and Bluewater Power.

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Several members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce are organizing “LOL Nite” for next Wednesday, July 18, with comedian Jeff Leeson as the feature entertainer.  His off the cuff, improvisational, electrifying style leaves crowds not only wanting more, but stunned at what they just witnessed. He’s played top venues in cities across Canada like Toronto, London and Vancouver.

The ticketed event—$20 for Chamber members, $25 for non-members—will take place at the former Taylor’s Furniture building (Christina St. N. and Cromwell St.) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Organizers expect a strong response for the event, especially given the renaissance of the downtown community and, in the renovated building.

Along with Jeff Leeson’s talents as one of the country’s “up and coming” comedians, the 19+ evening—in itself a great networking opportunity—will include a variety of food from Downtown Market food vendors. The fun will also include a scavenger hunt.

A strong social media campaign is already underway, with opportunities to win great prizes. But you MUST register online to be eligible!

The support of the following members is greatly appreciated by the Chamber:

TMRRW Inc.
Julie Ward/The Cooperators
Epic Fitness
Champion Home Inspections
Downtown Market
Mae Allen Confections
alt space
Mark Woolsey/Remax
greenafish art studio
Kirsten Anderson/Studio in Session

Registration is underway now. Click HERE to register.

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While anticipation is already building for the 2018 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, first things first.

With the nomination process for the Friday, October 12 event well underway, there is a deadline, that being Monday, July 9 at 5 p.m.

Nominations can also be ‘phoned in’—just call the Chamber offices:
(519) 336-2400.

Following that key date, nominees will be notified and once they accept the nomination, the process of submitting material for judging will begin.

Already dozens of companies have been nominated for one or more of the 16 categories at this year’s OBAA gala.

Is it your turn to win one of the top business awards in Sarnia-Lambton?

A significant change this year is removing the “membership requirement” for nominees. Self-nomination is permitted under the OBAA rules.

Nominations can be made online by clicking HERE or by filling out a form at the Chamber office. Nominations can also be made at any branch of Libro Credit Union, the presenting sponsor for this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards.

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Following the application of tariffs and duties by the United States against Canadian producers of steel and aluminum, the Canadian government has issued a “notice of intent to impose countermeasures” action against the United States.

Businesses, including members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, have until June 15, 2018 to provide input to the Canadian government as to the impact any proposed action would have on their business.

Related to this issue, a news release from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has expressed disappointment for the action taken by U.S President Donald Trump.

“We are profoundly disappointed with President Trump’s refusal to work with his G7 colleagues,” said Perrin Beatty, CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “His actions not only threaten the prosperity of America’s trading partners, but they also work directly against the interests of the American people, who are the primary beneficiaries of a growing global economy. We will continue to work for free and open trade.”

A link to the Canadian Department of Finance notice can be seen HERE. It contains instructions on how businesses, including members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, can respond ahead of a June 15, 2018 deadline.

The news release from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce can be seen HERE.

 

 

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