Monthly Archives October 2019

A great time of networking and connections—including food and cash bar—will be featured at the Comfort Inn on November 20 with the Chamber’s Business After 5.

Organizers are already hard at work planning details on the event, which runs at its customary time of 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“As we get closer to the end of the year, November is a great time to connect with one another as we approach the holiday season,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO. “Thanks to our friends at the Comfort Inn, who have pulled out all the stops in their role as host, we expect a great turnout and the opportunity for some great times together,”

The Comfort Inn is located at 815 Mara St. in Point Edward.

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We’re all so busy these days. That’s part of the reason life hacks are so popular. But did you know one of the best professional life hacks is Chamber membership? Here’s what you can get out of it to help you do more for your business or professional life with less:

Professional Advice

When you need assistance in business, either to take your business to the next level or maybe you’re thinking about selling your business, the Chamber can help. There is no other better-connected business organization in your community. They know the professionals dedicated to your type of business problem and can place you in touch with them. The Chamber can also provide assistance when you’re not even sure what kind of business acumen you need because it’s likely they’ve seen similar issues before.

Applicable Business Learning

If there’s a skill you’re interested in picking up, you can go online and look around. Maybe you can find a teacher or a mentor virtually, but chances are they don’t know the economy of your town or the obstacles or positives in your community. Plus, when you’re using online learning you never know if it will be worth your time and money.

The Chamber offers business learning that is personalized to your community. They offer reasonable rates and local expertise. Learning through the Chamber is affordable and improves your networking as you’re doing it.

Building an Audience

Who has time to build an audience? Well, if you want to be successful in business, you need to find the time. But a Chamber membership can almost be a life hack in this department because you’re getting exposed to a whole new audience when you connect with the Chamber. For instance, there may be an opportunity to write a guest blog post for your local Chamber. Now a whole new set of eyes is looking at your materials and seeing you as an industry expert.

The same could be said if you speak at one of our Networking Referral Sessions.

Engage with the Chamber on social media. Chambers often have large followings and engaging with the chamber places your content in front of their audience.

Get by with a Little Help from Your Friends

Finally, if you’re a small business owner who doesn’t have many business owner friends, you may find you have few people to bounce ideas off of. You may long for a group that faces the same challenges and one that will celebrate your small professional victories, knowing that they’re much larger than they sound.

Joining the Chamber exposes you to a whole different group of people, people who understand the importance of business in the economy and ones you can talk to about business without their eyes glazing over. Connections made through chamber membership do more than just cultivate sales for your business. They become lifelong friends and a staunch professional support network.

Don’t join the Chamber because it’s an expectation for business success. Join it because of what it’s able to do for you and your business. Membership will make your life easier as it extends your marketing reach and their offerings increase your business knowledge.

Do it for you. Because sometimes, just sometimes, it’s okay to be purely selfish in your motivations.

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A member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, Mac-Weld Machining and its human resources manager, were recently featured at an event promoting inclusive hiring in the province.

Sarah Nishimura, the Mac-Weld official, said overcoming the stigma that exists around mental health is one of the challenges faced by businesses around the province.

Nishimura appeared in a live-streamed panel discussion that took place last Thursday (October 24) from Richmond Hill that was presented by the Ontario Disability Network.

Everyone has something worthwhile to bring to the workplace, said Nishimura. “Unfortunately, I find there’s still a bit of a stigma (when it comes to hiring people with disabilities), especially when it comes to mental health, and I’m not sure why it’s like that,” she added.

The employment rate for people in Canada with disabilities, ages 25-64, was 59% in 2017, according to Statistics Canada. The rate for people without disabilities is 80%.

At Mac-Weld, Nishimura has worked with a local group, Community Living Sarnia-Lambton and its Job Path program.

“That alleviates some of that pressure from the employer,” said Nishimura, who has been recognized her as a champion for inclusive employment. She was nominated to participate in last week’s panel by Community Living Sarnia-Lambton officials.

More information on the work of the Ontario Disability Employment Network can be found online at www.odenetwork.com.

 

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is currently seeking nominations from members to sit on the Board of Directors, for 2020.

The Board of Directors is responsible for all aspects of policy and strategic direction of the Chamber.
Duties include:

—Oversight and governance of policy and procedures
—Represent the interests of members
—Regular attendance and participation at monthly meetings

Successful Board nominees will have the following qualifications:

—A track record of leadership in their areas of expertise or business
—Experience representing the voice of business
—Experience in community building
—A reputation for high ethical standards in business
—A track record of involvement with the Chamber of Commerce and related organizations

“We count on the expertise, experience, and enthusiasm of our directors to guide and advise the organization throughout the year,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO. “This is an important role for our organization and one that is rewarding as well—especially given that the success of our business leadership strategies ultimately makes a real difference in the growth and health of our community.”

Members may nominate themselves using a downloadable application, which can be accessed HERE. The deadline is Friday, December 4, 2019 at 4 p.m.

 

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The Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the province-wide organization that includes the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce among its membership, is encouraging all Chamber members to complete a survey that will be used in its ongoing advocacy work on behalf of Ontario businesses.

A custom link for responses from our area has been provided by the Ontario Chamber, which is organizing the province-wide survey.

That response link can be found by clicking HERE.

“Our Chamber has long continued with a sustained strategy when it comes to advocacy on issues of importance to our business community,” says Shirley de Silva, president and CEO. “This survey, which our colleagues at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce are coordinating, is an important tool for us to keep important issues at the forefront of those whose roles include drafting proposals that will affect the efficiency and competitiveness of our members. We urge our members to take an active role, starting with completing this survey.”

 

 

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Major overhauls of a business take time, buy-in, and frankly, they can be a little frightening. Not so of these mini tweaks. These seven things can help you move the meter in your business in less time than it takes to wolf down a sandwich and check your voice mails.

Find Out What They Like

Your customers are more valuable to your business than from just a revenue perspective. Knowing what they respond to can help you shape services and products, create more meaningful content, and engage them more on social media. So, don’t be afraid to ask them what they like. Create a short survey and email it to them or “hang” it on your website if you get a lot of traffic. The key here is short but there are a few other things to keep in mind.

Ask for Reviews

Depending on the type of business you have, spend a few minutes reaching out to satisfied customers for reviews, referrals, or testimonials. It may feel awkward at first but these types of social proof go a long way for potential customers. Think of it as giving people an opportunity (and a gentle reminder) to share something with their tribe that will be of value to them. Doesn’t everyone need a good plumber or hairstylist? Of course, they do. Now give your customers a way to help their tribe.

In your communication, help them explain why reviews are so important to the success of your business. If you’re asking for reviews, make it easy for them to respond by inserting URLs to the review site in your email request. If you are asking for testimonials, post them to your site when you get them. If referrals were what you were after, give them an incentive to do so or surprise them with a discount later.

Reach Out to a Complementary Business for a Special Program

Another way to get more interest in your business is to offer something your competitors aren’t. A simple way to do that is to partner with a complementary business for a special offering. For instance, if you’re a health food store you could partner with a local caterer to host a “healthy meals in minutes” program in your store. This could attract new business for both of you.

Rework Your Social Media Cover Images

With the help of easy to use templates on Canva, you can now redesign your cover image on your social media profiles during your lunch hour. Keeping them fresh will help attract more eyes and give consistent visitors something new to look at.

Go Live on Facebook

If you have your phone with you, you can go Live on Facebook during your lunch hour. Not sure what to talk about? Think about a question you’re often asked at your business and answer it. Encourage people to ask questions of you as well. You can broadcast for up to 90 minutes but keeping it between 15-20 minutes is probably sufficient. You’ll get more views if you remain live for at least 15 minutes. Then save the video and post it to your site.

Figure Out Your Most Popular Posts

Look at the data and figure out what hit home with your audience then do more of it. If you notice image quotes make up most of your engagement on Twitter, keep that in mind when creating content.

Share the Love

Go through your customer files and pull out your most loyal. Now make sure you follow them on social media and share their content, where appropriate. Add in flattering comments like “Good advice” and “Love this perspective.” This will make them feel good and people will be more likely to click on the links and share if they know why you like it.

Small business owners are busy people and because of that, often digital marketing falls to the wayside. But you don’t need much time to make a little progress every day. Make a list of things you can do that only take a few minutes. Then when you have a moment before a meeting or while you’re eating lunch, you can make the most of your most valuable resource – your time.

 

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Following through on an issue long on the radar of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Government’s Red Tape Reduction Ministry has launched a new webpage to hear directly from businesses.

The site—at https://www.ontario.ca/page/cutting-red-tape—is a spot where anyone across the province (and beyond) can submit their ideas on modernizing regulations and reducing red tape.

Prabmeet Sarkaria, associate minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, launched the new webpage on October 18 at the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Annual Manufacturing Conference.

The site will provide a simple, straightforward way for businesses to contact the government with their regulatory concerns.

“We want businesses to tell us directly how we can continue to reduce their regulatory burden and make Ontario work smarter for them, in order to help make them be more competitive and support greater investment in Ontario,” said Sarkaria. “The regulatory knot that was stifling business wasn’t tied overnight. Untying it carefully and effectively will take time and persistence, and we will get the job done.”

The province has stated a target of reducing the cost of complying with regulations affecting businesses by $400 million yearly by 2020.

 

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce celebrated 16 winners, both from companies and individuals at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia, as part of its 30th-anniversary Outstanding Business Achievement Awards

“We were delighted to celebrate along with our winners this year, which was our 30th Anniversary event,” said Chamber president and CEO Shirley de Silva. “The OBAAs are always a wonderful opportunity for the business community to demonstrate a level of excellence that both motivates and encourages everyone involved. This year was no exception.”

The title sponsor of the event was Libro Credit Union.

The categories and the winners in each category included:

Cool Place to Work (sponsored by the Chamber), won by Bluewater Health.

Tech-Novation (sponsored by CIBC), won by Terrapure Environmental Sarnia.

Marketing & Promotions (sponsored by Bluewater Power), won by Odd Duck Compression Socks.

Health, Safety & Environment (sponsored by Industrial Education Cooperative), won by MJ Waste Solutions.

Non-Profit (sponsored by LEHDER Environmental Services), won by Rebound Sarnia-Lambton.

Outstanding Customer Service—Business (sponsored by RBC Royal Bank), won by Bluewater Power Group of Companies.

Inclusivity (sponsored by COGECO Business Solutions), won by Lambton Public Health.

Agri-Business (sponsored by Cargill AgHorizons), won by Moore Agricultural Society, home of the Brigden Fair.

Exporter of the Year (sponsored by Global Affairs Canada), won by Great Pretenders.

Social Responsibility (sponsored by Pinchin Ltd.), won by St. Joseph’s Hospice.

Entrepreneur of the Year (sponsored by Sarnia Lambton Business Development Corporation), won by Bruce Hein of Express Employment Professionals.

Outstanding Customer Service—Individual (sponsored by TMRWW Inc.), won by Laurissa Ellsworth, Town of Petrolia.

Business Leadership (sponsored by MNP Accounting, Consulting, Tax), won by Janice McMichael-Dennis, Bluewater Power.

Member of the Year (sponsored by Imperial Theatre), won by Helen Cole.

Business of the Year (sponsored by Scotiabank), won by Artopia Gallery & Framing.

Chamber Champion (sponsored by Past Chamber Chairs), selected by the Chamber’s Board of Directors, won by Dante Cateni, Terrapure Environmental.

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Whether everyone wants to acknowledge the approaching climate crisis or not, the reality is that it is already affecting our lives and it is going to change our world. The question for voters in this election is which party is best prepared to lead us through this difficult time.

Our goal, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is to reduce GHG emissions to 45% below 2010 levels by 2030 and to net-zero by 2050. That clearly means that fossil fuel consumption has to decline rapidly and be replaced by renewable energy and conservation, creating a potential bonanza of opportunities for business and tradespeople.

The Green Party will:

—Develop a national strategy based on respect for science and evidence that will guide future governments of all stripes, so we avoid changing direction after every election.

—Use sound economic theory to tax the things we want people to stop doing and reward the things we want them to do.

—Complete a national building retrofit (residential, commercial and institutional) to reduce heating and cooling needs

—Green and expand our electricity generating system to provide zero-emission energy for electric transportation.

—Build a cross country high voltage transmission system to make renewable energy from one province available to other provinces.

—Develop new, high value, finished products that can be made from our abundant natural resources.

Fighting climate change will require a concerted national effort, and it will forever change our economy. While some political parties may seek to hold on to the past, history teaches us that it is those that grasp the future that ultimately survive and flourish. We’ve ignored the alarms for too long, we are already in the era of consequences, and further change is inevitable. Vote for a livable future for your children and grandchildren. Vote Green.

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In this election campaign, the Conservatives have a platform that will have a positive impact on the business community. From affordability to trade policy, there are many offerings that will help small business owners and Canadians as a whole.

First off, we will repeal the punishing small business taxes put in place by the Liberals to tax passive income in corporations at 73% above a threshold. We will eliminate the carbon tax, which is driving up the cost of everything, and doing nothing to reduce emissions. Tax rebates of $850 for families making under $47,000 will put more money into the pockets of those who need it most. We will return an additional $350 to each senior, and increase veteran pensions.

Our plan to help first time home buyers achieve their dream involves a return to 30-year mortgages, and a stress test that is less demanding for initial down payments. We will help students (and their parents) to fund their education by increasing the government match on Registered Education Savings Plans to 50%.

In terms of red tape, we will reduce the number of regulations. On the trade front, we will build on the Conservative record of 53 trade deals to continue to diversify the countries Canada is doing business with. We will return to fiscal responsibility, with a balanced budget by 2024.

Our Real Plan for the Environment will focus on clean air and water here in Canada, with reduced pollution, while using technology to cut emissions here at home and to help other countries in their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

We will address our aging demographic, and increase funding for healthcare, including mental health and addictions.

All of these plans will help people and businesses in Sarnia-Lambton!

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