In addition to handling the customary details associated with the Annual General Meeting of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, including a review of reports, members welcomed two new board members—Nicole Crosby of BMO and Robert Gee of CIBC (both pictured).

Members and guests also heard the inspiring story of Liwordson Vijayabalan, who last fall won the Chamber’s “Entrepreneur of the Year.”

Vijayabalan—Li to his many friends—told the story of how his mother, a single parent, arrived in Sarnia-Lambton with no money and not even the ability to speak English.

Eventually, at least in part due to the generosity of the people behind Habitat for Humanity, his mother and siblings were able to create a new life here, which underscores his commitment to the vitality of the region.

We captured his remarks here for you to share:

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Express Employment Professionals, the local office of the international staffing franchise, has won a “Best of Staffing Talent” award for providing superior service to job seekers.

The company, a Chamber member, began as a franchise operation in 2006 with owner Bruce Hein at the helm.

The ranking of companies like Express Employment Service is provided by ClearlyRated, a U.S. based firm that uses a survey program to help service providers measure the client experience, build online reputation, and differentiate on service quality.

On average, the company says, the talent of winning agencies are 1.7 times more likely to be completely satisfied with the service provided compared to those placed by non-winning agencies. Award winners make up less than 2 per cent of all staffing agencies in Canada and the U.S. that earned the Best of Staffing Talent Award for service excellence.

Express Employment Professionals received a score that is said to be significantly higher than the industry average.

“It is an honour to receive this award for the third year in a row,” said Bruce Hein (pictured). “Our team is privileged to work with such outstanding associates and we are humbled to receive this recognition.”

Express Employment Professionals has its international headquarters in Oklahoma City. The firm has more than 800 franchises in Canada, the U.S., and South Africa.

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Sitara Restaurant, the Chamber member that hosted a recent Business After 5 event at 1308 London Road, has opened a second location in downtown Sarnia, at 138 Cromwell, between Christina St. and Front Street.

“We congratulate our friends at Sitara for joining the downtown community,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. “It’s always exciting to see a business expand and we wish them the very best in this new endeavour.”

Owners Manjit Singh (pictured) and Balwinder Kaur invested about $100,000 when they doubled the space for their original London Road location some two years ago and now say the new Sitara Downtown has had a great response from customers.

“Very busy first two days,” they said on Facebook. “We will likely be changing our hours to keep up with the demand, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. We will be updating our menu as well.”

The owners also said their goal is to serve the same menu as their primary location.

“Reflecting back seven years ago when we started Sitara, we have come a long ways,” they said. “Having lived in this amazing community of ours for the past 17 years, having never ever done a restaurant or a business before, to have an amazing success…..it makes us very proud of our community and all of you.”

The new downtown location, located across from the Cromwell Grill, is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. for lunch and dinner, with take-out service available.

 

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LEADWAVE Technologies, the firm that last fall was a co-winner of the Tech-Novation category at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Achievement Awards gala, has received another recognition.

Last month, CRN named the company to its list of top Managed Service Providers for 2019. LEADWAVE is one of only 12 companies named to the list.

LEADWAVE was featured as one of the MSP Pioneer 250, a category that recognizes companies with business models weighted toward managed services and largely focused on the Small and Medium Business segment.

“The technology landscape is in a constant state of change and it’s our responsibility to ensure that our clients are aware of new technologies and for us to enable them to leverage those technologies as best as possible.” said Mat Berube, CEO of LEADWAVE. “It’s a genuine honour and we’re all quite proud to be recognized on this list of Top MSPs in all of North America.”

A more detailed article on LEADWAVE appeared recently in the January/February print edition of Lambton Shield, a business publication serving Sarnia-Lambton. The story can be seen HERE.

 

 

 

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Josh Lines recalls the first time he began to think about developing his own hot sauce.

A lover himself of putting a “little spice” on his food, Lines reached out to a friend he knew with the expertise to turn his ideas for what has become “Canada’s hot sauce” into reality.

Now a member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, Lines is intent on taking his “Front Street Heat” collection of hot sauce offerings even further than he already has—which is in several local stores, and beyond—to London, Windsor.

He’s also selling “Front Street Heat” online at www.topshelfcollection.com.

“It’s continuing to grow,” said Lines, who is working hard to spread the word about a product that is sure to be a hit.

Be sure to welcome one of our latest members to the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce!

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It’s an organization that has decades of experience in the thoughtful and strategic implementation of a strategy to improve the way business leaders improve their communication.

We’re talking about Toastmasters International and right here in Sarnia-Lambton there are several clubs to choose from if taking the next step in being a better communicator/presenter is one of your goals.

One of those clubs meets at the offices of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce every Thursday at noon and Julie Jenkins, broker of record and owner of EXIT Realty Twin Bridges Brokerage, would love to have you check out one of their gatherings.

“Members learn from each other in a fun and encouraging environment,” notes Jenkins. “Toastmasters has been one of the best things I have done for my career. It’s helped me to gain the self-confidence to succeed in business and I recommend it to anyone who wants to improve.”

Drop by any Thursday or contact Jenkins if you have further questions. She can be reached by email or by phone at (519) 328-4963.

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A half-day seminar co-sponsored by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and Simplify ISO, a firm with extensive experience in helping organizations of all types developing services held to a world standard, attracted several local energy users who now have a path for improvement.

The event, which took place on Monday, was publicized in the Chamber’s newsletter and elsewhere, with Shirley de Silva, the Chamber’s president and CEO, seeing a future for more events of this type in the Chamber’s future.

“Our value proposition for members includes underscoring how the Chamber is building relevance,” said de Silva.

A key speaker at the seminar was Donna Arts (pictured centre), representing Natural Resources Canada, who outlined a rebate program for eligible companies who become certified to the ISO 50001 Energy Management Standard, an area where Jim Moran (pictured left), president of Simplify ISO, can assist companies.

Representatives from Bluewater Power as well as heavy users of energy attended the event, which was free of charge to Chamber members.

 

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will convene its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, February 27, 2019, to take place at the St. Clair Corporate Centre, 265 Front St. N., Sarnia, Ontario.

Networking begins at 6 p.m. and the formal business portion of the event follows at 7 p.m.

All members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce are hereby invited to attend this event, which will include the nomination and swearing in of members of the Board of Directors.

A guest speaker—Liwordson Vijayabalan, CEO of TMRRW Inc., a creative agency based in Sarnia (and Chamber member)—will be featured at this year’s AGM.

The following documents may be accessed by members prior to the AGM:

2019 AGM Agenda

AGM minutes Feb 28 2018

2019 AGM proposed slate of directors

 

 

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At an event co-hosted by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce on Friday, February 15, representatives of the Canadian Fuels Association, the trade organization representing the refining industry, presented the results of a study outlining the economic impact its member companies deliver to Canadians coast to coast.

The noon-hour event included introductory remarks by Chamber president and CEO Shirley de Silva (pictured), followed by an overview of the Southwest Ontario Economic Impact Study delivered by Lisa Stilborn, vice president (Ontario) of the Canadian Fuels Association.

An executive summary of the study’s findings can be seen HERE.

Members of the Canadian Fuels Association, which is heavily represented in Sarnia-Lambton, account for more than 12,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs in the province.

The industry also:

—Has $1.25 billion in annual operating expenditures.

—Contributes to the economic support of some 1,600 suppliers in an integrated supply chain.

—Provides a $6.7 contribution to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

—Is the source of $320 million in federal and provincial tax revenue.

—Accounts for $550 million in feedstock for the chemical, plastic and rubber industries.

“As we discovered in a new light, this Economic Impact Study is proof positive that the refining industry continues to represent one of the key engines of prosperity, not only for our region but for the entire country,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber.

 

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The Ontario Chamber of Commerce earlier this week (Tuesday, February 19) released its third annual Ontario Economic Report (OER), offering a unique perspective on the experience of businesses of all sizes across the province. Through the Business Confidence Survey, the Business Prosperity Index, and the Economic Outlook, this report presents a candid look at private sector sentiment and opportunities for economic growth for the year ahead.

“New research shows that businesses are gaining confidence in Ontario’s economic outlook as well as gaining confidence in themselves,” noted Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, which is a member of the OCC.

The entire OER can be seen HERE.

Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the OCC, said challenges relating to access to talent, embracing technological innovations, and the cost of doing business—including regulation, taxation, and input prices—remain major sources of concern to businesses in the province.

“Ontario’s overall prosperity depends on the strength of its regional economies, yet these vulnerabilities are expected to be most acutely felt in rural regions of the province,” said Rossi. “We should all be concerned that the province’s employment growth has been largely concentrated in the Greater Golden Horseshoe since 2003, while other regions have experienced slow or even negative growth during that same period.”

The OCC document is aimed at shaping and informing future public policy and will act as a reference and benchmark for debate and policy change.

Key takeaways from this year’s Ontario Economic Report include:

  • Confidence in Ontario’s economic outlook has improved. Thirty percent of members surveyed expressed confidence in Ontario’s outlook for 2019, up seven percentage points compared to last year.
  • Despite a more optimistic outlook for 2019, decreasing levels of organizational and economic confidence over the years have impacted business’ willingness to invest, take risks, and adopt technological advancements.
  • Businesses are gaining confidence in themselves. Sixty-one percent of respondents reported confidence in their own organization’s economic outlook heading into 2019, a seven-point increase from last year.
  • Revenue projections for 2019 are more positive than those of 2018. Eighty-six percent of respondents believe their organization’s revenues will increase or stay the same over the next twelve months, with only fourteen percent anticipating a decline. This represents a notable change in direction from 2018, when 27 percent were projecting their revenue to decrease.

“This year will be a formative one for the Ontario economy,” said de Silva. “Along with the OCC, we urge decision-makers to develop thoughtful policies that foster competitiveness and address the potential vulnerabilities that loom large within our province,. We need to take action and address these challenges to build a stronger Ontario for today and tomorrow.”

As Ontario’s economy continues to face many challenges outlined in the OER, the OCC’s 2019 Ontario Economic Summit will be dedicated to the question of competitiveness with an agenda that will explore how our province can lead in innovation, knowledge-generation, and trade. The OCC will be engaging its members, government and other leaders to explore these issues and develop the necessary solutions to drive forward a competitive province for years to come.

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