Representatives of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be at the upcoming Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting (April 26-29, 2018) in Hamilton with three resolutions that speak to issues of concern to local members, including improvements to broadband, advancing the bioeconomy, and protecting the viability of companies that have reduced carbon emissions in the province.

View all of the resolutions that will be debated here.

Develop a provincial long-term broadband strategy

With high-speed broadband internet now considered to be an essential telecom service by both the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Government of Ontario, the province has a responsibility of ensuring that all Ontarians have equitable access to reliable, affordable and quality service in order to fully participate in the digital economy.

The broadband resolution is being supported by the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce, the Ajax Pickering Board of Trade, the Whitby Chamber of Commerce, and the Richmond Hill Board of Trade.

Advance Ontario’s Bioeconomy

Industry is on the cusp of transformation: traditional petroleum-derived chemicals and products will be increasingly substituted or blended with more sustainable resources derived from biomass. Ontario can leverage its strengths in advanced manufacturing and resource development to lead the way on provincial and national bioeconomy strategies. A comprehensive bioeconomy framework will create new businesses, high quality long term jobs and stable growth while reducing carbon emissions.

The bioeconomy resolution is being supported by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, the South Grenville Chamber of Commerce, and the Brockville Chamber of Commerce.

Protect the viability of companies that have reduced carbon emissions in Ontario

Ontario’s Cap and Trade system effectively penalizes companies that are early adopters of technologies that reduce, recycle and capture carbon emissions. By recognizing and rewarding these efforts, there would be greater incentive for companies to invest in new technologies as available that reduce carbon emissions on a continual basis. In addition, gaps in programming under the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016 and the Climate Change Action Plan similarly punish early adopters and encourage a “wait-and-see” approach to investments aimed at reducing GHGs. Companies need an assurance that funds invested in Ontario’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account will ultimately provide benefit in the form of accessible programming, regardless of the compliance period in which the funds were invested.

The carbon emissions resolution is being supported by the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce, the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce, and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.



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The local Lowe’s store in Sarnia, a member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, is appealing to fellow members as it launches a fundraiser that will help children with specialized care, rehabilitation, and groundbreaking research.

Lino Tesolin, who manages the Lowe’s store in Sarnia, says customers can purchase $2 “paper balloons”—with all proceeds going to the Children’s Health Foundation and its connection with the Children’s Miracle Network.

The store has pledged $12,000 towards the campaign. The organizations being supported through the Children’s Miracle Network include the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre, Thames Valley Children’s Centre, and Children’s Health Research Institute.

The campaign runs through May 13.



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The Ontario government says it is making it easier and less expensive for companies to do business with the government by eliminating the fees that businesses have to pay to access procurement contracts.

Jeff Leal, the Minister Responsible for Small Business, made the announcement at the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council’s Diversity Procurement Fair in Toronto.

Businesses can now submit bids for free on the Ontario Tenders Portal, waiving the previous requirement of a $300 submission fee per bid or $750 annual fee for an unlimited bid for procurement opportunities with the government. Businesses will now also have free access to the Registration, Appraisal and Qualification System used by the Ministry of Transportation for road maintenance procurements, which previously required businesses to pay a $525 annual fee to access that system.

The government says elimination of these fees is part of a plan to make it easier for businesses to submit bids for government contracts, which also includes the designation of 33% of procurement spending to small and medium-sized businesses by 2020.

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Things are heating up and we’re definitely not talking about the Spring weather.

The Chamber has a well-deserved reputation for helping businesses connect with candidates at every level of government and with the provincial election on the calendar for June 7, 2018, plans are coming together for a number of activities leading up to that day.

Chamber staff will be reaching out to candidates beginning April 23, with formal requests for information that will be uploaded to our website.

In early May, the Chamber will be posting election information and various dates related to the campaign. We’ll also be meeting with candidates and their teams, all with the intention of bringing Chamber members the most up-to-date information regarding their policies ahead of the election.

On  May 10, the Chamber will be sending out surveys to members.

On Friday, May 18, there will be an all-candidates breakfast meeting for Chamber members. Details on this event will be forthcoming.

The Chamber will be updating pre-election information on our website and in our newsletter.

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Tyler Smith is owner of the Woods Hair Salon, a Chamber member that was featured in a video produced by the SLBDC.

Recognizing that running a business can be a challenging affair, the Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation, a member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, is once again holding its “WIN This Space” competition, featuring the opportunity to capture a free storefront space for a year.

This year’s competition features “double the fun” with one prize being offered in Sarnia and another in the northern part of Lambton County.

The SLBDC is accepting applications for the contest through Wednesday, April 18, with full details on its website—

Assisting entrepreneurs is nothing new for the SLBDC as the organization continues to provide dedicated business counselling and financing opportunities.

As Don Anderson, general manager of the SLBDC, has said, providing business start-ups with the access to capital is meeting a real need in the community, a goal that the Chamber is pleased to support.

The organization secured additional support for the contest, allowing it to add a user guide it will be providing to applicants.

Applicants will take their ideas from concept to completion of a fully executable business plan, with two ultimate winners selected at live pitch events taking place in June.

A panel of business experts will judge the applicants and finalists will proceed through mandatory business training sessions and receive one-on-one assistance to complete their business plans.

Those events will be open to the public.

Partners will also be invited to support the initiative through both financial contributions to support lease costs or contributions of goods and business services to support the winners in the launch or expansion of their ventures.

Landlords with suitable locations for consideration are being encouraged to contact the SLBDC directly to discuss the opportunity in more detail.

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In a launch event held on April 9, the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce officially opened nominations for the 2018 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, the latest in a longstanding tradition that honours the very best of business in the region.

Past winners, news media, organizers and representatives from Libro Credit Union, the OBAA presenting sponsor, attended the launch event, which took place at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia, where some of the changes that are sure to make the Friday, October 12, 2018 gala even better than ever were outlined.

The link to the online nomination form can be found HERE.

Opening up nominations to all businesses in Lambton County is a first step in broadening the reach the OBAAs have in the community, creating a path to membership for those who have not yet taken that step.

“We believe the OBAA process can be the start of a journey that leads to membership,” said Chamber CEO Shirley de Silva. “Through this event, business leaders can experience first hand how being nominated for an OBAA by customers and peers can be an enriching experience, something to which both past nominees and the winners can attest.”

Two new awards—”Cool Place to Work” and “Chamber Champion”—will be featured as part of the 2018 OBBAs.

Dave Vanos, regional manager of Libro, said the financial services firm was pleased to be an ongoing supporter of the event.

“At Libro we speak a lot about the importance of recognizing success,” said Vanos. “This is something that the Chamber does very, very well.”

Vanos spoke in support of events like OBAA that highlight the success of individual companies and individuals throughout Sarnia and Lambton County.


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Do you know someone—a company or individual—that is deserving of a 2018 Outstanding Business Achievement Award?

Nominations are now open!

Click HERE to get started. Nominations for this year’s event run now through July 30, 2018.

This year’s OBAA, with Libro Credit Union as the title sponsor, will take place on Friday, October 12, 2018 at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia,.

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Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, recently took advantage of an invitation by a local Women’s Interest Network group to “spread the word” about how the Chamber is making a difference by connecting with tomorrow’s leaders.

The group, which is connected with Imperial (a longstanding Chamber member), heard de Silva talk about a career journey that took her from the not-for-profit charity sector to executive management in the airport industry to her current role at the Chamber. She also shared insights on how future leaders can maximize their effectiveness regardless of gender.

Building on your experiences and then using them to enrich the people around you is one of the best strategies imaginable,” de Silva said.   She also shared with the group on how the Chamber is undergoing a “strategic renewal” and how a “next generation” of leaders (like those in the room) can make a difference down the road.



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It may hard to believe, but the fact is that more than a few members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce tend to overlook Member Only Benefits to which they are entitled.

Kim Inniss-Petersen, the Chamber’s manager of Member Engagement and Retention, is on a mission: to begin conversations designed to correct that oversight.

Being a member of the Chamber brings a variety of benefits, from networking opportunities, discounts on products and services, and special pricing on events organized by partner organizations.

The list is almost endless. With that in mind, Kim would like to talk to you as a first step in developing a “strategy map” that could help you take full advantage of your Chamber membership.

Reach out today at or call her at (519) 336-2400.

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A rebate currently available to landlords who own properties with vacant units is staying in place for at least the next two years as decided unanimously by County Council on April 4.

President and CEO Shirley de Silva appealed to Council to keep the Vacancy Rebate Program in place as it represents an opportunity for Sarnia-Lambton to attract investors and entrepreneurs to the area.  The Chamber’s view came together after a roundtable discussion among members and resulted in the  Chamber’s letter to County Council that can be seen HERE.

Other presenters included Steve Park, a Realtor and president of the Sarnia Lambton Real Estate Board, and Alex Jongsma, a past chair of the Chamber and a well-known property owner.

Plans are underway to work with members on responding to vacancy challenges, taking into account opportunities that will help the economy grow.


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