Last week, members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Trade Corridor Task Force met with members of the St. Clair Economic Development Alliance to look for ways each group can continue to promote trade in the region.

With major highways—I-69, I-94, and Highways 402 and 401—bisecting Ontario and Michigan, the opportunities for communities to attract business investment and create jobs can’t be overlooked.

As one of the key points discussed, the Trade Corridor Task Force on the Canadian side of the border is in the process of applying for Foreign Trade Zone designation, which St. Clair County has already secured.

The two groups plan to continue meeting and building on this important binational relationship.

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We’re entering one of the most exciting times on the Chamber calendar and starting Monday, August 20, general admission tickets for the 2018 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards gala go on sale at the Imperial Theatre box office.

The event, which takes place Friday, October 12, 2018, is seen as one of the highlights and this year takes place in proximity to Business Week.

Right now, dozens of businesses and individuals have been notified of their nomination to one or more of the 16 awards categories. They are busy assembling their online submissions for the judging process.

But for what is expected to be a sold-out event, getting one of the “best seats in the house” is about to begin.

We recommend not putting it off!

Contact the Imperial Theatre box office today—tickets will be available online through the Imperial Theatre website: www.imperialtheatre.net.

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Five years in business cannot go unnoticed! For that reason alone, Alton Farms Estate Winery has rebranded itself and is throwing a two-day party—Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, August 19—to which everyone is invited. For these proud members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, this will be a celebration to remember.

With the first 50 people each day receiving a $5 gift certificate, the Altons (Marc and Anne) are putting on a show that includes live music by Paul Garrett and Sue MacIntyre.

Heaven’s Wildlife Rescue Rehabilitation & Education Centre will be there with their rescued wildlife, showcasing the rehabilitation of wild animals – a wonderful experience for young and old alike. Visitors are invited to hop on the hay wagon and tour the vineyards, and learn how wine is made.

Blind wine tastings will be part of the fun, a great way to learn and appreciate what goes into making an exceptional wine. Relax on the patio and enjoy a glass of one of Alton Farms Estate Winery’s VQA wines with a slice of pizza from their wood-fired oven. A BBQ will be on for those with an appetite for hamburgers and hotdogs and hourly draws and fun games will also take place throughout the afternoon.

The official unveiling will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday with both Anne and Marc offering friendly words of thanks followed by our distinguished guests: Matthias Oppenlaender, CEO of the Grape Growers of Ontario, MP Marilyn Gladu and their other wonderful friends.

The festivities will also include hors d’oeuvres with wine and music by El Camino.

Tickets for the Saturday Reception are $20 and are available on Eventbrite. Follow the link on their website.  Please note that all the afternoon activities are free.

 

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While members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be represented at the upcoming Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Thunder Bay (September 22-24, 2018), an opportunity to provide input into various issues that will be debated will come in the next few weeks.

Local Chamber officials (staff and board members) will be reviewing some 70 policies ahead of the AGM.

As part of that process, members are invited to weigh in with their thoughts and opinion.

If you’d like to be part of those discussions, contact Monica Shepley, the Chamber’s manager of advocacy and policy development.

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Members and guests of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be getting an “inside look” at the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport as part of the Wednesday, August 15 Business After Five–with a chance to win a voucher worth $8,000 for travel for two anywhere Air Canada flies.

The event is being promoted by the Chamber and the City of Sarnia, which is hosting the Business After 5 event.

“This is a great opportunity for the City to gain insight as to what our members are looking for when it comes to improvements at the airport,” notes Chamber CEO Shirley de Silva, who is pictured with Clare Webb (left) of Scottsdale Aviation and Daniel Byskal, Sarnia’s assistant solicitor and risk manager. “Thanks to the initiative of members of our Airport Revitalization Task Force and the subsequent approval of the City, we’re able to bring this event to our members.”

The Business After 5 event will take place in one of the airport hangars, with special shuttles taking attendees to the airport terminal for tours throughout the event.

Representatives of Air Canada, which provides regular service from the airport, will be in attendance,  as well as representatives from Scottsdale Aviation, the local company contracted to operate the City-owned airport.

Clare Webb, who owns Scottsdale Aviation, the operator of the City-owned airport, will also be present.

The August 15 Business After 5 will be the first of several opportunities to gather input, a process that was announced in April.

Early ideas for improving the airport’s operations include work on runways and a refresh of the terminal building but the Chamber’s Airport Revitalization Task Force will be working to coordinate initiatives.

In the meantime, Air Canada is expected to announce a strategy for area airports, including ways it could reduce last-minute flight cancellations, one of the biggest complaints made by local travellers.

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The Chamber recently co-hosted an informal “roundtable” of local business representatives organized to provide input on business issues to two Federal Opposition Members of Parliament, including Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen and Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu.

“We were rolling out a ‘defend local jobs’ initiative across the country, an opportunity to hear from local job creators on issues such as NAFTA,” said Gladu. “Pairing up with the Chamber seemed like a natural fit.”

There was significant representation from the local manufacturing sector as well as the petrochemical industry and the conversation began by talking about recent government initiatives, including a carbon tax.

A summary of the key points offered by Chamber members in attendance included the need to:

  • Eliminate uncertainty
  • Use the U.S. government’s stance on trade being a security issue to get Canadian pipelines built
  • Reduce taxes to a level that is competitive with the U.S.
  • Settle NAFTA negotiations
  • Encourage trade with other countries
  • Break down provincial barriers
  • Promote the $2 billion in new support programs established by the federal government to help workers and businesses in the steel, aluminum and manufacturing industries.
  • Promote Sarnia-Lambton’s bio-hybrid industry
  • Provide universal child care to free up money so it can be reinvested in the economy
  • Produce more Canadian-made goods
  • Support and move forward on the Trans Pacific Partnership and CETA (the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreements) and increase trade with countries besides the U.S.
  • Make a compelling case to invest in Ontario by being more competitive on environmental regulations, energy costs and taxes
  • Increase recognition of Sarnia-Lambton as a significant international gateway and our contribution to the national economy when it comes to trade
  • Scrap the carbon tax
  • Train workers for the skills and jobs that our economy needs
  • Build trust in politicians and be less critical
  • Invest in capital

Gladu said, in review of the roundtable, that there is a need to better communicate the benefit of existing laws, including one that allows Canadian businesses that import raw materials from the U.S. to receive rebates on any tariffs after the finished products are exported.

 

 

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With a new government now in place, officials from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) have written to each provincial Cabinet minister, outlining a blueprint to execute over the next four years that will help make Ontario open for business. The OCC’s blueprint includes both policy asks where immediate action is required to support business and foundational recommendations for long-term prosperity.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce advocates on your behalf as  a member of the OCC through its Chamber Network.

A key tool to making this province competitive is reducing red tape. The OCC believes Premier Ford’s step to create a separate Deputy Minister for Red Tape and Regulatory Burden Reduction is an excellent start in lowering the administrative burden felt by Ontario businesses.

“We are providing all Ministers with a blueprint for steps that can be taken to ensure we are growing Ontario’s economy and building shared prosperity for all,” said Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “Each ministry has a fundamental role to play in making Ontario open for business and we look forward to working with Premier Ford as well as his cabinet in achieving the policy commitments that support businesses across the province.”

The themes that emerged in the OCC’s blueprint for making Ontario open for business include:

  • Fiscal balance: fundamental to economic growth is ensuring that the Government of Ontario’s own fiscal house is in order
  • Business competitiveness: the most powerful tool in making this province competitive is reducing red tape; we ask that the government prioritize lowering the administrative burden on business and ensure that regulation is streamlined and effective
  • Investment growth: investing in Ontario through strategic spending is essential to fostering job creation and building healthy and productive communities across the province.
  • Government accountability: Poor implementation of government initiatives in the past has led to resource waste, mismanagement, and disruption for both businesses and residents.

“To ensure Ontario’s economy has a strong foundation, business and government must work together to support evidence-based policies. As Ontario’s business advocate, the OCC is committed to working with the Ontario government to ensure the public policies introduced contribute to a competitive business environment as well as the economic and social well-being of our province,” added Rossi.

The entire document outlining the Chamber’s blueprint can be seen HERE.

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When it comes to being competitive, experts around the world say one of the best strategies is to look beyond the border, which is where Global Affairs Canada comes in to play.

This Canadian Government department, through its Trade Commissioner service, is offering a “Step by Step Guide to Exporting,” a resource that would be especially useful for members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce looking for new markets beyond our community.

The Guide, which can be accessed HERE, is a good jumping off point for business owners/operators who may not be sure of what is even possible when it comes to international trade.

Here are just a few of the ways the Guide can help interested businesses:

—Be more competitive. Apply proven export strategies.

—Sell to more customers. Target global buyers online.

—Close more deals. Secure sources of export financing.

—Enter more markets. Leverage the benefits of free trade.

—Save time & avoid risks. Learn the legal aspects of trade.

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The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has already begun to engage the newly elected government on important issues, one of which is the legislation the previous government enacted—Bill 148.

Now the Chamber and its network—which includes the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce—is reaching out to business to provide specific evidence of how Bill 148 (the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act) has negatively impacted their business.

The OCC—through the local Chamber—is looking for firm-level financial data and testimonials related to administrative challenges and legal challenges that have been recorded since Bill 148 took effect on January 1, 2018.

The data is being collected anonymously and the Chamber will not be sharing the information publicly. Rather, it will summarize the data in a document that will be shared with government officials.

HERE IS A LINK to the form that the Ontario Chamber is asking members to fill out. It includes three short, demographic questions followed by a free-form opportunity to detail your experiences under a series of headings.

“We all understand how difficult the adjustment to the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act has been on many within our business community,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. “We hope that this information will be of use in persuading the government to enact significant changes.”

 

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Members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce are being invited to register for a complimentary webinar being organized through the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Amazon Canada.

The webinar is designed to help expand the impact of a business beyond its local borders. Participants will learn how small and medium-sized businesses can use the Amazon Marketplace as an additional sales channel to reach millions of customers in over 25 product categories.

Registration for the Wednesday, August 15, 2018 webinar–“Selling on the Amazon Marketplace”–is underway now. Click HERE to register for the event.

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