This week we’re looking ahead to one of the happiest . . . some would call it JOYOUS seasons of the year.

With our neighbours across the Blue Water Bridge enjoying their Thanksgiving festivities, we’re entering . . .  by tradition . . .  the point where shoppers begin scrambling for the best deals available, and children start making sure their parents have their list of what they expect Santa will be bringing on Christmas Day.

But this is also a season when we can focus on what really matters . . . and we’re not talking about gifts or even your favourite holiday foods.

It’s the building of relationships, the renewing of friendships, and seeking out opportunities to show kindness and generosity that count the most.

Those who have come to know and respect the Chamber for its role in advancing good in Sarnia-Lambton already understand what I’m talking about.

Generosity and kindness will ultimately create the kind of sustained value we can all benefit from, not just in this season but all year round.

Let us get an early start on the season—demonstrating kindness and generosity beginning today.

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Trade Corridor Task Force is working on an initiative to grow Sarnia-Lambton’s trade, distribution & warehousing sectors, and to promote this area as an international gateway and trade corridor that contributes significantly to global trade and to Canada’s economy.

Our first goal is to become a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) Point to make it easier for businesses to access duties and tax relief programs. Qualifying businesses are those that import goods for use in manufacturing, processing or storage and then export again.

We want to know if such a service would benefit your company and others in Sarnia-Lambton. We invite you to answer these quick questions to help us with our research. For a brief description of FTZ programs, click here.

If you have any problems accessing or completing this survey, please contact Monica Shepley at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce at mshepley@slchamber.ca or (519) 336-2400.

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Last week the Ontario government presented the Fall Economic Statement, 2018 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review. The Chamber applauds the government for the steps it is taking to build a more prosperous Ontario with a strong focus on fiscal accountability and cutting cumulative red tape.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber Network have long called on the government to reform Ontario’s tax system, reduce red tape, and restore fiscal sustainability to the Ontario taxpayer.

We agree that the Government of Ontario will not proceed with the prior government’s initiative that would have taxed the so-called “passive” income for thousands of businesses across the province. This would have greatly increased taxes for thousands of employers in Ontario.

We also applaud the government for increasing the amount of payroll that is exempt from the Employer Health Tax. This is a reasonable step in the right direction. Our members are also supportive of some of the government’s other key priorities, such as their commitment to:

  • Cutting red tape by 25 percent by 2022;
  • Implementing tax reforms for small businesses;
  • Expanding broadband to rural and underserved communities across Ontario;
  • Reviewing electricity costs for industrial users; and
  • Investing in both the Ring of Fire and transportation infrastructure in Northern Ontario.

Combined, these are fundamental steps towards a more competitive and prosperous economy. Ontario is strongest when industry and government work together and we look forward to working with the government in support of businesses of all sizes, in every corner of the province.

For more information, read the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Rapid Policy Update:

https://occ.ca/rapidpolicy/2018-fall-economic-statement/

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Wellings of Corunna, one of the area’s most innovative and welcoming facilities for a 55-plus crowd who value an extremely comfortable lifestyle, is host to this month’s Business After 5 Chamber event.

As you’ll soon discover, it’s a short drive to Wellings of Corunna, located at 180 Bunker Ave.

This Business After 5, which takes place on Wednesday, November 21, is taking on a casino theme, one more reason to be excited.

Even better, as those who look forward to the monthly Business After 5, the connections made are often lasting.

We’ll see you there!

Here’s a little more to discover about the Wellings of Corunna eperience:

 

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Every week, nearly 500,000 Canadians miss work due to mental health problems or illnesses, costing the economy in excess of $51-billion annually. In order to remain competitive, businesses need to focus inwards and begin investing in and improving how they navigate mental health in their workplace.

With most adults spending more of their waking hours at work and with one in five Canadians experiencing a mental health problem or illness, addressing the issue of mental health at work is vitally important for all people in Canada— especially employers. Mentally healthy workforces perform better and create opportunities that allow for inclusive growth for all sections of society.

The steps to building a more mentally healthy workplace are simple—small changes lead to a larger impact over time. The first step is to decimate the stigma surrounding mental health problems and illnesses. Businesses can create an environment in which individual differences and the contributions of all staff are recognized and valued.

It is not only socially responsible for businesses to prioritize a mentally healthy workplace but also fiscally responsible, all while promoting employee retention. As the leading cause of short and long-term disability in Canada, mental health takes a substantial toll on Canadian workplaces. The longer an employee is absent from work, the higher chance there is for an unsuccessful integration back into the workplace.

Businesses must prioritize adopting best practices for workplace mental health in order to mitigate the risk of losing their employees, a low employee turnover heightens a business’ financial performance over time.

Additionally, a workplace that champions good mental health makes employees more productive and assists in the recruitment of
new workers.

Promoting workplace mental health is also important for risk management. Psychological health and safety in the workplace is a factor that many employers can be held legally responsible for. Implementing mental health policies, in addition to assessing, controlling and/or eliminating any mental health risks in the workplace, would reduce the possibility of businesses being liable to claims. Mentally healthy workplaces can be achieved through fostering a positive culture, promoting employee mental well-being, preventing harm to employee mental health and supporting people with mental health problems and illnesses.

Our economy cannot afford to leave anyone behind, which is why as the voice of Canadian business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is leading the way in ensuring their workplace allows all individuals to benefit from a healthy and inclusive environment. The Chamber is moving from goal to action by implementing the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

This ‘5 Minutes for Business’ article was produced by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is a member.

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A concert planned for Sunday, December 2 is intended to bring together the culture of the ancient Celts alongside Canada’s indigenous peoples in their common reverence for nature and parity of esteem.

Organizer Dave Clark, who is working with the W.B. Yeats Foundation on this production, has put together”Bridges of the Spirit,” a Canadian Celtic Concert that will include poetry, song, music and dance as a way to bring both cultures together.

Taking place at the Holiday Inn in Point Edward (from 2 p.m.), the concert will feature numerous Celtic and Indigenous performers, including Rant Maggie Rant, The Living Celtic Souls, Smoke Signals, Jeff Black, Red “Dog” George, Alyson Fischer, Kim Carr, Seamus “Wolf Son,” and Dancers from the Sarnia School of Irish Dance.

There will be entertainers from First Nations communities and those of Scottish, Uilleann & Highland Pipers and others at the event.

Tickets are priced at $25 and are available through Eventbrite.

 

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As we approach Remembrance Day, we can’t help but think of the special link that exists with those who served our country . . . in war and peace . . . and especially, of course, those who paid the ultimate price.

When people enlisted for service to our nation and the principles of freedom that came down to war abroad, they had left their jobs to do so—and in some cases, the businesses they owned were at least temporarily left in the hands of others.

Many of those who served their country had strong ties to the Chamber and we especially remember their sacrifice on this day.

As we approach Remembrance Day this Sunday, we ask that you consider all that was given on our behalf.

The peace and prosperity—and especially the peace we enjoy in our nation—came at a price that those who served were willing to pay.

Our acknowledgment of that sacrifice is something we at the Chamber and the entire business community are privileged to extend.

On behalf of the members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, we pledge along with so many others, never to forget the sacrifice that was made for the freedom we enjoy today.

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Representatives of Hydro One recently reached out to the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce as a point of contact for a roundtable discussion on issues related to a critical energy infrastructure for the area.

Hydro One’s key representative at the roundtable was Jason Fitzsimmons, chief corporate affairs and customer care officer.

For the roundtable, the Chamber brought together leaders of the business community, including representatives from Bluewater Power, Sarnia Construction Association, Lambton Federation of Agriculture, Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance, Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, Imperial, Shell, and the Bowman Centre for Sustainable Energy.

Among the topics discussed were the new transmission station in Enniskillen Township, various capital projects, and corporate restructuring and long-term planning by Hydro One.

Also discussed were reliability improvements planned, energy costs, interconnectivity to other provinces and U.S. states, and time of use billing.

“We welcome these opportunities to connect our members with companies like Hydro One,” said Shirley de Silva, the Chamber’s president and CEO. “This roundtable was especially important given the role Hydro One plays in the development of the critical energy infrastructure in our region.”

 

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A coffee table book organized by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is just about here with an expected delivery of November 20 at the Chamber offices.

Copies of the book, “Discoveries that Matter: Simply Sensational,” will be available for pickup by sponsors.

The project, which was undertaken by the Chamber as a way to promote the Sarnia-Lambton area, was produced by Richard Bain, with a foreword by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who hails from the area.

Richard, who has worked with numerous Chambers of Commerce on similar projects, said “Discoveries that Matter: Simply Sensational” was one of the most interesting he has undertaken.

“This is a marvelous area and one where the photographs do a great job of telling the ongoing story of one of Ontario’s hidden gems,” says Richard.

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A roundtable held last Friday with key representatives from the new provincial government, including Premier Doug Ford and local MPP Bob Bailey, saw Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce representatives involved in the discussion of the provincial “Open for Business” campaign.

Topics discussed included labour reforms, the reduction of red tape, the Oversized Load Corridor, issues related to local bio and chemical industries, and trade.

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