Monthly Archives January 2020

A hearty welcome goes out to one of the newest members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

Mary Kay by Liz Wodham offers a wide range of cosmetics and colognes for all skin types, from teenagers to the “over 45” crowd, both men and women.

The products are 100% guaranteed and Liz is offering a 20% discount as part of the Chamber Perks Program to all cardholders.  If you do not have your card, just drop in and pick up your card today.

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The Sarnia Community Foundation, in partnership with The Windsor Essex Community Foundation (WECF) is offering eligible organizations that are working to do good in Windsor-Essex-Sarnia the opportunity to access non-repayable capital through the Investment Readiness Program.

A free information session is taking place Thursday, Jan. 30 at 3:30 p.m. at the offices of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

This is part of a national initiative led by Community Foundations of Canada and funded by the Government of Canada. Some $18.5 million will be provided across Canada to seed and grow social enterprise of which $380,000 is earmarked for the Windsor-Essex-Sarnia area in the form of non-repayable capital.

“The Investment Readiness Program is open to a diverse range of organizations and businesses including charities, non-profits, co-ops and for-profit social enterprises and can up to $100,000 in non-repayable capital to design, plan, measure, and scale social enterprises in order to get ready to accept investment, ” explains Jane Anema, executive director of the Sarnia Community Foundation.

The IRP is designed to help social purpose organizations build their readiness to receive investment.  There will be several rounds of applications, the first of which is now open. The deadline for this round is February 10, 2020. Further deadlines will be announced later this year.

An information session will be held at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce office Thursday, January 30th beginning at 3:30 pm.  Please call 519 332 2588 or email to register.

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For one of the first times in recent years, the Annual General Meeting of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be holding this formal event in connection with its Wednesday, March 18 Business After 5,

The customary swearing-in of directors and officers at the Chamber will follow the 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Business After 5, which is being sponsored by Patrick Coutu—aka “The Real Estate Caddy”—along with Coldwell Banker Southwest Realty, Brokerage, one of the area’s newest brokerages.

With a “Roaring 20s” theme for the Business After 5, the event will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Gateway Room at the St. Clair Corporate Centre, 265 Front Street N. in Sarnia.  The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce AGM will follow the BA5 at 7 p.m..  Join us for food, a cash bar, games, prizes and networking.

Also sponsoring this Business After 5 is Grind Cafe, Steeves & Rozema, and the Gateway Room at the St. Clair Corporate Centre.

Patrick Coutu specializes in commercial and investment real estate services throughout Sarna-Lambton and is a member of the Sarnia Lambton Real Estate Board.



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Some people think a Chamber membership is all about networking and because of that they see it as obsolete. After all, you can just meet other business people online, right? Search on Facebook and a number of business groups will come up, many geared to a certain profession or business size.

Some of these groups are private so you have to apply to get in. A few even require you to answer questions and promise to play nicely with others. Upon acceptance, you can spend all day chatting it up with other like-minded business owners (for free!).

No need to join the Chamber, right?


Saying that joining a Facebook group for business replaces the need for a Chamber membership is like placing a nickel in your piggy bank and claiming to have a retirement account. Sure, the two are kind of similar but you’ll never get the same amount of return from that group as you will from a Chamber membership. Here’s why.

With a Chamber membership you get the following things you won’t get from a Facebook group:

1.   A Connection with the Community and a Marketable Designation

The Chamber is a well-respected community organization. Many people see it as similar to the Better Business Bureau. Your membership plaque or window cling tells customers that you are intending to be part of the community for a long time. Being a member of an online group is not a reputation builder.

2.   Knowledgeable Help

With an online Facebook group, someone will ask a question, others will give their advice. This can be a wonderful experiment in crowd-sourced learning. However, it can also have its downside. While the group administrator may have asked a few questions when someone entered, most groups do not vet members. Anyone can offer advice, skilled/experienced or not. It’s difficult to tell the good from the bad.

Facebook also allows frequent contributors in the group to receive a designation next to their names. Be aware this just means they answer questions often. This does not indicate expertise of any kind just a willingness to jump into conversations and post.

3.   Hands-on Learning Opportunities

The Chamber offers hands-on learning opportunities as well as lunch and learns. For many people, it’s hard to learn by being told what to do. But seeing it or working on it on their own through the instruction of others, can help improve the learning experience. That’s why some Chambers have created learning opportunities that include things like social media help and in-person website attention. Check with your local Chamber to find out what sort of learning sessions it offers.

With Facebook groups, there’s a limit to the amount of information most people are willing to share. In-depth learning will likely occur elsewhere.

4.   Ribbon Cuttings

When you open a new location for your business, hit a milestone anniversary or some other accomplishment, your Facebook group might send you some emoji balloons but the Chamber will be there with a social media mention, perhaps an article, help on a press release, and/or a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate your time in business.

5.   Advocacy

Your Facebook group may be exceptionally supportive and you may even feel like you have a group of online friends, but it’s likely that as supportive as these friends are, they are not lobbying on behalf of your community and business on a local, state, and national level. Your Chamber is. Many businesses forget this valuable part of Chamber work. While most businesses can’t afford their own lobbyist, they can afford Chamber membership.

6.   Trust

I’ve known a lot of people to get “burned” by something they shared on social media. If you need help on a delicate matter within your business, it’s likely you don’t want to splash it across a public forum, even if that forum is a “private group.” If you’re dealing with something sensitive and you need advice on the next steps (like in the case of a termination, business bankruptcy or going-out-of-business situation) you don’t want to share that with the world. At the Chamber, you can get the help you need or a reference to someone who can assist you without sharing it with the world. Chambers handle delicate situations all the time and they do so with discretion.

There’s nothing wrong with joining Facebook groups. They can be extremely helpful in hearing advice from people who may have gone through similar situations. But these memberships will never cover everything your Chamber can do for your business. Still, there’s no reason to choose between one or the other. When it comes to business growth, multiple tools and investments are required, and Chamber membership is an excellent one.

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Manley’s Basics, the full-service, family-owned office supplies company based in Point Edward, is celebrating its being named “Member of the Month” by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce with a 15% discount on everything in the store, including office furniture.

Serving the community for 120 years, Manley’s are professionals in their trade, offering excellent customer service as its #1 goal, with a skilled staff helping a loyal client base get the best products they need for the job at the most reasonable price.

“We have everything you need to keep your office running smoothly,” said Carolyn Leaver Luciani, a co-owner. “Whether that’s stationery and computer supplies, to office furniture, we carry thousands of trusted brand names at competitive prices. We also carry the Basics label which offers exceptional value!”

The 15% discount is available to Chamber members who come into the store and mention the “Member of the Month” honour. available. The discount is available until the end of January.

And congratulations to Manley’s for the honour!

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It’s a date worth keeping—Wednesday, January 15—if for no other reason than it’s the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce’s first Business After 5 event of 2020.

It’s that evening—from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.—that the owners of Petit a la Carte at 170 Christina St. North will bost this classic networking event.

Located in one of the busiest areas of downtown Sarnia—adjacent to the Imperial Theatre—Petite a la Carte is the kind of establishment that many in the region have been seeking.

Owners Mike Service and Pat Havlik opened the restaurant in early July with a dream that’s come true—a small-plate, fine-dining wine bar.

With distinctively smaller than customary portions, patrons are encouraged to order other menu items, combining them to create a near-unique meal offering.

“We’ve experienced this concept in larger cities like Toronto,” said Service. “It suits us and we think it will suit a lot of people who find they don’t want that big plate that you just end up taking with you.”

Chamber members will undoubtedly find the experience at January’s Business After 5 a unique one. We hope you’ll join us on Wednesday, January 15 at Petite a La Carte.

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, which has committed to engaging in constructive dialogue around various issues related to policy and advocacy issues, is extending an invitation to members to be part of this process.

“Our board leadership has identified advocacy as a key  initiative to tackle this year and our hope is to broaden the discussion to as many of our members as possible,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber .”This is really an open invitation to begin the kind of quality dialogue that’s needed in our business community,” said de Silva.

Sending a note to de Silva would be a good start to engage in that dialogue. She can be contacted by clicking HERE.



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The Sarnia Lambton Workforce Development Board, as it approaches the deadline for this week’s deadline for its EmployerOne Survey, is urging those who have not yet completed the short survey to do so as soon as possible.

Laura Greaves, executive director of the SLWDB, says nearly 200 responses have been received, which is just short of a goal of 233 in total.

A has enjoyed some early success around its EmployerOne Survey, although organizers are hoping to continue the momentum.

One of the partners of the survey, which is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario, is the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

“We are in full support of the objectives of this important initiative,’ said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber. “By better understanding the needs of not only our members but the entire community, we can work on a strategic level to become even better at what we offer businesses and those they employ.”

The EmployerOne survey collects data on workforce and industry needs to be based on responses from local businesses and organizations. The feedback SLWDB receives from this survey allows it to assist local business owners, job seekers and other stakeholders with workforce and career planning.

The survey (which can be accessed by CLICKING HERE) is open until January 31, 2020. Participation is confidential. The survey will take 5-15 minutes for most businesses to complete.



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Visit the offices of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and you’ll find a simple, yet effective sign—Bonjour Welcome—that includes the address to a website ( outlining an initiative designed to build partnerships with local Ontario French-Canadian associations and other organizations, including 14 ambassadors from across the province who are already involved.

One of those is the Assemble de la francophonie de L’Ontario (AFO), the organization representing Ontario’s 1.5 million French speakers.

As part of a funding initiative by the Government of Canada, eight new Francophone associations have come on board to promote the campaign. One of those is the Centre communautaire francophone in Sarnia-Lambton, a recent chamber member.

‘This is a positive campaign intended to encourage Ontari0’s Francophones, visitors as well as bilingual individuals to be asked to be served in French when purchasing goods and services,” said Peter Hominuk, the AFO’s executive director. “I invite business people to proudly show that they can serve their clients in both French and English. They will quickly realize that bilingualism is good for business (and) serving clients in their language is quality customer service.”

The organization has also developed a directory of bilingual businesses and organizations. An English version can be found HERE.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce offers bilingual services.


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A group of Sarnia leaders is behind The Jean Collective, which is being described as an initiative designed to encourage and inspire women to become more active in local politics.

Helen Cole, the recent winner of Member of the Year at the Outstanding Business Achievement night organized by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, is the primary driver of the initiative.

She says she was motivated to do so when she realized that many women felt they didn’t have enough knowledge and experience to consider elected office.

Helen draws from her own experience in local government as well as the support she received from Jean Macdougall, a mentor and the name behind the initiative.

“Jean’s love and support was my inspiration,” said Helen, who said Macdougall was as a “spark plug” in the Elgin County village of Port Stanley.

“In addition, she was my support during my own political career and I wanted to honour her memory by providing a way for other women to experience similar support,” said Helen.

The Chamber is providing regular meeting space beginning in February 2020.

Those who wish to donate rather than become directly involved are asked to do so through the Sarnia Community Foundation’s “Jean Macdougall Fund,” which has been set up to support women in politics.

The Jean Collective will be formally launched on Monday, January 20 at Petite a la Carte, located at 170 Christina Street North. While there is no cost for the event, registration is required. Click HERE to do so.

There is also a Faceb0ok page for the organization, which can be found HERE.


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