Shauna Carr is executive director of the Sarnia Lambton Workforce Development Corporation, which is celebrating 20 years of service to the community.

When the Sarnia Lambton Workforce Development Board was first created, it was firmly focused on training, says Shauna Carr, now its executive director.

“It was even in our name,” says Carr, who runs the small office (there are just two full-time and one part-time staff) that is celebrating 20 years of service. “Some people still refer to us as the Training Board.”

It was those two decades ago that the organization was put in place as part of a joint initiative by the provincial and federal governments, originally to look what training would be required.

“It was an initiative that would bring a local perspective,” says Carr. “The idea being that the local community knew better what was going to be required.”

A decade ago, the current name was adopted and today the SLWDB is funded solely by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.

“We haven’t had federal funding for several years,” notes Carr, who also serves as co-chair of Workforce Planning West, comprising the nine boards in the western region as part of Workforce Planning Ontario.

Under the current umbrella of services, the SLWDB has doubled down on its goal of better understanding what the local labour market plan for the Sarnia Lambton community should be, basing those projections on a combination of census data an “employer one” survey that is done every January.

“We help employers look to the future and encourage them to look at issues that are going to impact their business,” says Carr.

One of those is the reality that more people are retiring but most companies, the vast majority being small businesses, aren’t necessarily planning for how they will adapt.

“The extremely forward-thinking businesses have been doing that,” says Carr. “But smaller firms don’t necessarily have those resources to do the planning that is necessary.”

Carr is doing what she can to fill the gap, working with a volunteer board of directors made up of representatives of business, labour, education and the community.

“We’re basically a research agency that helps inform what the supply and demand is from a workforce standpoint,” she notes.

Making connections between job seekers and employers is part of that task.

“A lot of it is related to the skills gap,” says Carr. “And what skills are needed in big cities like Toronto aren’t necessarily the same as in Sarnia-Lambton.”

One possible surprise to some may be that there is a shortage of engineers in our area.

“I would never have thought that,” says Carr. “But it’s talking to local employers that revealed that key insight.”

Other realities like the need to bring on more apprentices to keep renewing a skilled workforce are also part of what the SLWDB sees on its radar.

“The key thing is that we’re always available to present what we’ve learned about the local labour market,” says Carr, who points to the organization as being a source of information on grants being sought. “If we have it, we’ll provide it, but if we don’t we’ll get you to that person or explain why the data isn’t collected. That’s why we’re here.”

Shauna Carr can be reached by email. Her phone number is (519) 332-0000.

 

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Pictured, from left, are Vicky Ducharme, chair of the Famous 5 Sarnia committee, and members Julie Allen and Janet Doyle.

Next year’s “Famous 5” speaker series has announced its roster for 2018, with special pricing available until Dec. 31, 2017.

The name refers to a group of five courageous women, known as the Famous Five, who stepped forward to challenge laws and convention by insisting that women were indeed “persons.”

The Enbridge Famous 5 Speaker Series combines tribute with inspiration as it profiles extraordinary women.

The events take place at the Holiday Inn in Point Edward and run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Early bird pricing information and booking can be found HERE.

The four events on the featured guest list for 2018 are:

Thursday, February 1, 2018: Emm Gryner; Singer/Songwriter

Thursday, April 12, 2018: Elizabeth Manley, Olympic Figure Skater & World Silver Medalist

Thursday, June 7, 2018: Gina Wilson, Deputy Minister, Status of Women, Canada

September 27, 2018: Barbara Stegemann, from CBC Dragon’s Den

 

 

 

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TransAlta’s Sarnia plant.

When the Ontario Government asked for comment on its proposed Cap and Trade Program, the local Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce connected the Ontario Chamber of Commerce with local industry to discuss the proposed amendments and how they would benefit local industry.

The result is a letter sent by the Ontario Chamber to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, supporting amendments to the legislation that would help customers of the Sarnia Regional Cogeneration plant, a system that uses natural gas to produce steam and electrical power.

Some of that power is eventually delivered to the provincial grid, which is managed by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

Under the existing rules put forward by the Ontario Government, customers of the cogen facility would not be able to receive carbon credits (known as “free allowances”) for the electricity they buy from the grid, all due to the fact that the electricity purchase was not transferred directly from the cogeneration plant to the customer.

The Ontario Chamber, in the letter to the Ministry (which can be seen HERE), said it is supporting a change that would provide free allowances to the cogeneration plant’s customers.

“The proposed change would allow for the intricacies of regional cogeneration to be properly addressed under the cap and trade program,” said Richard Koroscil, interim president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the  regulatory change would also allow for regional cogeneration to be given the same treatment as an onsite cogeneration system, thus creating fair and equal treatment for cogeneration.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

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Vendors looking for a seasonal opportunity to reach out to members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will want to consider a spot at the “Yule Shop and Mingle” Business After 5 event that will take place Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 at the Dante Club.

A limited number of spots are available for vendors looking to participate. The event is also open to the general public, although admission is restricted to those age 19 and older.

The event will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Interested? Please reach out to Ana Dailey by email or phone (519) 336-2400.

 

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In an effort to better support the area’s  businesses on key issues, several task forces have been established by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

The next step is to recruit members who will serve as “Business Champions.”

The task forces are being organized around:

  • Small business development;
  • Youth & entrepreneur retention;
  • Digital economy/ e-commerce;
  • Airport revitalization; and
  • Trade corridor

Anyone with an interest in serving on a specific task force is asked to contact Monica Shepley, manager of Advocacy and Policy Development, for more information on the opportunity.

 

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The Chamber’s ever-popular Business After 5 event will take place Wednesday, November 15 at the 412 Exmouth Street offices of Mainstreet Credit Union.

The event, which is FREE for members and guests ($10 for non-members), will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Those attending must be age 19+. Payments for drinks may be made by Visa, MasterCard, and Debit as well as cash.

 

 

 

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The Ontario Government has introduced a Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) that includes several changes recommended by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, specifically around issues of related to affordability, transparency, and energy price forecasting.

The Chamber recommendations that were incorporated in the LTEP were sent to Glenn Thibeault, Minister of Energy, on December 14, 2016. The letter can be found HERE.

Key points where the Chamber’s advocacy efforts have taken hold in the updated Government document include:

—Affordability, which is now a key principle of the Plan;
—Transparency, which includes a Government commitment to making electricity bills easier to understand;
—A 20-year forecast of energy prices.

Although the Chamber had asked for an economic impact analysis, the Government did not include that in the LTEP. The complete LTEP document released by the Government can be found HERE.

The Chamber’s point—that the price of electricity is the number one concern that’s heard from members—remains consistent, with changes in the energy sector happening faster than many businesses are able to adapt to.

The certainty of cost in the energy sector would improve the reputation of the province as an affordable place to do business and allow for opportunities that await the energy sector to take shape.

 

 

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For the third year in a row, Sarnia-Lambton has been named among the Intelligent Community Forum’s (ICF) Smart21 Communities.

The class of 2018 announcement was made last week by the ICF in New York City. Sarnia-Lambton’s candidacy was selected from a large pool of communities worldwide.  Over  400 municipalities from around the world competed for the honour of being in the ICF’s Smart21 Communities.  Candidates are evaluated on their community’s access to broadband, their knowledge workforce, innovation, digital equality, sustainability, and advocacy. Smart21 Communities are now invited to apply to be named among ICF’s Top7 intelligent communities, which will be announced early in 2018.

To learn more about what makes Sarnia-Lambton a “smart community”, visit IntelligentSL.ca.

 

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The City of Sarnia’s Planning and Building Department is holding a public information meeting on Wednesday, November 8, covering a variety of topics.

Chamber members are invited to attend the event, which will take place in Council Chambers at City Hall.

Officials will be presenting information on the role and functions of the department, including updates on projects that are currently underway.

The topics on the agenda include:

—The City’s Official Plan
—Zoning By-Law Review
—Land Development Process
—Building Permits
—Grant/Loan Programs
—By-laws (Tree, Fence, and Sign)

The event will take place at Council Chambers, Sarnia City Hall (255 Christina St. N.) and include an Open House/Reception from 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a presentation from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information please contact Jordan Fohkens of the Planning and Building Department at (519) 332-0330 ext. 3290 or email planning@sarnia.ca.

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