This week’s announcement of a grant from the Transport Canada Airports Capital Assistance Program that will be used to complete improvements at the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport is an important milestone for Sarnia-Lambton.  The formal announcement was made by Kate Young, MP for London West. Young is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport and also to the Minister of Public services and Procurement and Accessibility.

Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, was in attendance at  Wednesday’s public announcement at the airport. Through ongoing efforts, including last summer’s Business After 5 that was held at the airport, the Chamber has formally advocated for the improvements.

“We continue to make the point that having a well-maintained airport facility here in Sarnia is an economic driver for us,” said de Silva.  “Our members, who know and understand just how critical this piece of infrastructure is to our future, are behind us and continually bringing forward their key inputs forward. This week’s announcement is a great example of how important these conversations are to the process,” she added.

Also attending were officials from the City of Sarnia, including Mayor Mike Bradley,  representatives of the City-owned airport management team and the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership.

In the photo, from left, are Stephen Thompson, CEO of SLEP, Shirley de Silva, MP Marilyn Gladu, MP Kate Young, and Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley.

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For those who are Irish (or, like most of us, just want to be), next week’s Business After 5, the monthly networking event organized through the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, is one you surely won’t want to miss.

It’s just a few days after the “official” day but the Chamber is taking every opportunity to make sure you won’t forget how “Saint Patty’s Day” can be celebrated in style.

To make this successful, organizers, including our sponsor for this event, LEADWAVE Technologies, are coordinating with BrownStones Sports Lounge and Restaurant, located at 1000 Finch Dr, Sarnia, right at the corner of Finch and Wellington.

As anyone who’s invested some serious networking effort will already know, these events are seen as key, not only to meeting new people in our business community, but building ongoing relationships that make doing business even more enjoyable.

Has it been a while? We’d love to catch up and there are people at the Chamber’s monthly Business After 5 gatherings that can help you make those connections, even if you’re new to the community (or the Chamber).

 

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“WIN this Space,” an initiative of the Sarnia Lambton Business Development Corporation that’s now in its third year, is an opportunity to kickstart entrepreneurship for Lambton County and applications are now open through next Thursday, March 21 at 5 p.m.

The winner of this year’s contest will be able to choose both a one-year lease storefront and a one-year membership to the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

If you have a unique business idea, are willing to put in some hard work to complete a detailed business plan, attend mandatory business training sessions to help sharpen your business acumen, and present your idea to a judging panel in a LIVE finale, this contest is for you,

Those who are interested should visit the unique website for the initiative—www.winlambton.com.

All the details on what to expect, including rules and FAQs, will help guide you through the process.

And remember the deadline: Thursday, March 21 at 5 p.m.

 

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When it comes to visibility of business leaders in our community, it would be hard to miss someone like Kathleen Mundy, even if you weren’t aware that she’s on the Board of Directors of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

For starters, Kathleen has had numerous careers, including as a Realtor and, more recently, as a franchise owner of several Little Caesars restaurants in the area.

But none of that happened by accident. Kathleen, who serves as Third Vice Chair in her Board role with the Chamber, essentially bootstrapped her Little Caesars business over the years, having first pledged to herself and others (and then achieving the goal) of opening “five stores in five years.”

She’s also the kind of entrepreneur that delights in sharing her passion for business creativity with others, one reason that she continues making the kind of connections that continue to drive value in others.

In short, Kathleen serves as a model, not only for women in business, but for those who aspire to do great things.

If you know Kathleen (and chances are several of our readers are already connected), be sure to give her a “thumbs up” for all the great work she continues to do.

 

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Fifty years of cutting and pasting has left Canadian taxation uncompetitive, cumbersome and inefficient.

Now more than ever a Royal Commission on taxation, with everything on the table, is needed to align Canada’s tax system with the economy of today and tomorrow.

Much has changed since the Carter Royal Commission created the basis of our tax system in the 1960s. New technologies, global supply chains and international competition have disrupted entire industries. Governments worldwide are competing to harness innovation by trying to understand how new developments like artificial intelligence and the sharing economy will reshape how we live and work, including how we tax.

The pace of change in today’s economy requires capital investments, investments in talent and skills as well as organizational agility to keep up and compete. According to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s report on Canadian tax competitiveness, our tax system falls flat on all three counts. The Canadian business community believes the accelerated capital cost allowance measures announced in last year’s Fall Economic Statement lack what is needed to spur the necessary investments. Our dauntingly byzantine federal tax system ranks 41st in the world in the time it takes to prepare and pay taxes. Canadian businesses are concerned the personal tax bracket structure on high income-earners will drive highly skilled workers elsewhere.

It is clear Canada’s outdated tax system has real costs—both in terms of money and time—for Canadian business. It has real implications for strategic, tactical and operational decisions.

The changing global tax environment not only provides an excellent opportunity for Canada to rethink its own system but practically requires it. If we look at G7 and OECD countries, there is a prolonged trend toward greater tax competitiveness. The OECD has encouraged Canada to “[r]eview the tax system to ensure that it remains efficient—raising sufficient revenues to fund public spending without imposing excessive costs on the economy—equitable and supports the competitiveness of the Canadian economy.” Similarly, the IMF executive board of directors has suggested Canada conduct “a careful and independent review of the overall Canadian tax system, weighing the pros and cons of incremental versus more radical approaches, and assessing their revenue implications and potential spillovers to other countries.”

A Royal Commission’s terms of reference should be guided by the principles of tax competitiveness, simplicity, fairness and neutrality. The inquiry should explore the following aspects of Canada’s tax system through a comprehensive review:

  • Broadening the tax base to explore the most effective tax policy solutions
  • Adjusting the tax mix to better promote business investment and economic growth
  • Bridging the digital tax divide to ensure a fair and equitable tax system
  • Simplifying the tax filing experience with digital filing solutions
  • Legislating a Taxpayer Charter of Rights to hold the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) accountable
  • Providing a representative for small business to resolve conflicts with CRA
  • Conducting regular comprehensive reviews to keep the tax system up to date

If Canada is serious about enhancing its competitiveness, we need to focus on how governments can use tax policy to harness disruption and new global business models. It is crucial we recognize a modernized tax system can be a key driver of Canada’s business innovation and economic growth.

The above was provided by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, an organization that includes the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce among its members.

 

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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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