Earlier this week, several members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce headed “over the river” to attend the Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce second annual St. Clair County & International Networking Event, an opportunity for business people to connect “beyond the border.”

Among those in attendance from Canada were CEO Shirley de Silva (pictured far right), Stephen Thompson, CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership (second from right), and Eric Bastiaansen of Bean Tree Farms (second from left). Also pictured are Thelma Castillo, CEO and president of the Blue Water Area Chamber (far left), and Quentin L. Bishop, director of Business Attraction with the St. Clair County Economic Development Alliance (middle).

This was a great opportunity to mix and mingle with neighbours from Michigan and one of the unique aspects of living in close proximity to another country.

Both the Sarnia Lambton Chamber and the Port Huron Chamber have representatives from each other’s organization on their board.

 

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It’s National Volunteer Week (April 15-21), an obvious great time to give a shout out to the many volunteers who bring value to everything the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce does for its members and for the community.

Whether it’s at the monthly Business After Five events, our annual Outstanding Business Achievement Awards or any number of contributions—from board members, those who invest their time in various task forces, or “impromptu” opportunities that all make our community stronger.

For your contributions as a volunteer, we want to say THANK YOU for making the Chamber a place where people can take pride in belonging.

Whatever you do, your role as a volunteer is very much appreciated!

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With some 90% of business owners admitting to having no formal process when it comes to their sales, it may be time you consider signing up for Outstand, a self-marketing program for those of us who want to engage with customers, build relationships, stand out from the competition—and have fun in doing so.

While Outstand allows you to create and send stunning, branded messages, that’s just the start. The software service provides RESULTS, including how many people open your messages or click on any offers that you make. You can also use text messaging to make sure your message gets seen every time.

The list of Outstand features is a long one: setting appointments, meeting reminders, after meeting follow up, staying in touch, making connections, getting referrals, conveying product benefits.

Chamber members are eligible for a 30-day FREE trial and, by using promo code SLCOC, receive special pricing after that period.

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It’s true that opportunities to serve in our community come in various shapes and sizes, but one immediate need has presented itself in the form of board membership in the Alzheimer Society of Sarnia-Lambton.

Karen Riley, a Chamber member, brought this opportunity to our attention and we’re passing on the information as a public service.

The organization has its own criteria for board membership, which includes recruiting from those with skills related to government relations and labour relations as well as the legal community. Those connected to service (care and service providers) would also make potential candidates for the organization’s board.

That said, the first step would be to indicate your interest in serving. Melanie Bouck, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Sarnia-Lambton, is the person with whom to connect. She can be reached at (519) 332-4444 or by email (mbouck@alzheimersarnia.ca).

 

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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—www.slbdc.com.

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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