A new monthly “casual drop-in” event is being organized by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce as part of a strategy to better connect with members, says Gail Ann Bondar, manager of Member Engagement & Services.

The first “Touch Base Tuesday” will take place on March 5. Members (both prospective and current) are invited to drop by anytime from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for this informal connection, an opportunity to put “a face to the names” of people who are committed to making the Chamber experience an even better one.

There will be coffee and treats, but even more important, a chance to connect on a one-on-one basis.

We hope you keep “Touch Base Tuesday” (starting Tuesday, March 5) in mind as you’re “out and about.”


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When it comes to making a difference, Mary Jean O’Donnell believes her career as a waste reduction consultant goes a long way toward doing just that.

Now the incoming first vice-chair of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Mary Jean continues to help drive change through her numerous clients in a business—MJ Waste Solutions—that she formed 20 years ago.

A graduate of the University of British Columbia and a former resident of Canada’s westernmost province, Mary Jean once joked that she received a degree in “garbology”—while not exactly true, it’s a “title” that gets the attention of people who may end up being clients for the work she does.

Having returned to Sarnia (where she was born) several years ago, Mary Jean continues to help a steady roster of clients reduce their operational waste, often resulting not just in reduced expenses but in adding value.

She’s also chair of Tourism Sarnia-Lambton, the organization that actively promotes the Sarnia-Lambton region.

Want to learn more about Mary Jean? Lambton Shield (a Chamber member) published a podcast interview with her in June 2017.


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The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), the provincial organization that includes the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce in its network of local affiliates, has provided the Government of Ontario with 13 tangible recommendations for the upcoming provincial budget to build a stronger Ontario and create a business climate which encourages growth.

The OCC presented the submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, calling on the government to prioritize small business tax reforms, strategic infrastructure investment, and value-based procurement in Budget 2019.

The full submission from the OCC can be viewed HERE.

In an OCC survey last year, 48% of Ontario businesses indicated they were not confident about the province’s economic outlook and 61% of these cited high tax rates as a reason. As the province heads into a time of economic uncertainty coupled with the province’s staggering deficit, the submission calls on the government to focus on fiscally sustainable and long-term taxation priorities. Currently, business with an income of less than $500,000 are taxed at a flat rate. To create an environment which encourages small and medium business to successfully scale, the OCC recommends the government create a variable small business deduction in Budget 2019.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and the heart of communities in all regions of the province. Yet, cumulative red tape, U.S. tax reforms, economic uncertainty, and a system that discourage growth have led to a staggering scale-up challenge for businesses of all sizes across Ontario,” said Michelle Eaton, vice president of Communications and Government at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We are encouraging the government to address these challenges, focusing on fiscal balance and smarter spending in the upcoming budget to help Ontarians today and into the future.”

The OCC is also urging the government to strategically spend in key areas that will help grow the economy and have the highest return on taxpayer dollars such as expanding broadband access and strengthening critical transportation infrastructure. The OCC also recommends removing red tape for small and medium businesses to access procurement opportunities, leading to employment, economic growth, innovation, and cluster development.

“We applaud the government’s commitment to reduce the debt and deficit as well as cut red tape by 25 percent by 2022 in the 2018 Fall Economic Statement,” added Eaton. “Yet, more work must be done to build a stronger Ontario and create an environment which encourages growth. We look forward to working with the government to support evidence-based policies that drive growth and contribute to a stronger province for all.”

The OCC represents 60,000 business of all sizes in over 135 communities across the province. The pre-budget recommendations stem directly from the Ontario Chamber Network’s policy resolutions presented at the OCC’s Annual General Meeting.

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The job market is changing each year, and it can be difficult for young people to know what to expect once they graduate high school and/or college. Also, with more pathways to higher education and careers opening up by the day, more people have opportunities. This means that competition in many areas of the job market is fierce. If you’re a student coming out of high school or college (or know someone who is), here is some practical advice on how to get started in a successful career.

The First Impression: The Resume

In many cases, your resume is the first impression you will give to a potential employer. Your resume should be memorable and eye-catching so that you stand out amongst other applicants. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, try an online resume template that will help you build a professional resume you can curate your personal information and make your own. The perfect resume will show your best qualifications, address all the questions an employer would have, highlight your education and work experience in a positive light, use keywords, and be a good length (not too long, not too short). The perfect resume can help you get your foot in the door, get you that interview, and land you that dream job.

It’s Who You Know: Networking

Finding the right job and growing in that job can be achieved through networking. Establishing an excellent and diverse personal and professional network will link you with the right people, get you raving recommendations, link you with new people, create mentorships, promote your business through word of mouth, and serve as a source for referrals. If you are a high school or college student, spend time developing relationships with fellow students, teachers/professors, staff, and volunteers, as well as maintaining an online presence. Tackle any hesitations you might have about networking and put yourself out there by joining the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and attending various networking events. Who you know can be key to your success.

Practice Makes Perfect: Internships and Volunteering

Experience not only makes you a better and desirable candidate for a job, but it also helps you grow and determine what you like to do and what you are good at. While paid jobs give you an income and provide growth, internships are an amazing tool for professional growth because they are geared toward your growth and increasing your knowledge. The perfect internship is out there to help you grow in the professional field; you just have to find it. Internships can be found through your school, social media, family, friends, company websites, and job postings.

Similar to internships, volunteering can also provide you with valuable experience. Volunteering will enrich your life and give you an invaluable perspective. In addition to the service you provide others, it will give you perspective into what you enjoy doing, steer you toward your purpose, create wonderful connections, and increase your knowledge.

Suit Up: Interviews

Once you have landed the interview, it’s time to get to work on preparing for your best presentation. Start by picking out a professional outfit that is clean and form-fitting. Before the interview, research some practice questions and develop answers that highlight your interest, experience, and goals. Prior to the interview prepare a handwritten thank you card to the interviewer(s), thanking them for their time and consideration, which you can then drop off in the mailbox right after your interview. During the interview, take the time to think about the question, breathe, and with consideration and ease answer without slang and filler words (i.e. “um”).

The evolution of the job market never stops, but some principles will always apply when you’re beginning a successful career. Be sure to craft a stellar resume and build your network. Apply for internships and volunteer to gain knowledge and perspective. Prepare for your interview(s) so that you can present yourself in the best light possible. Most important of all: believe in yourself and work harder than everyone else.

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The Annual General Meeting of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce—Wednesday, February 27, 2019—is right around the corner. This year’s AGM will take place, in the Gateway Room of the St. Clair Corporate Centre, located at 265 Front St N, Sarnia.

A networking opportunity takes place from 6 p.m.-6:45 p.m., followed by the beginning of the AGM at 7 p.m.

In addition to remarks from Chamber President and CEO Shirley de Silva and Chamber Chair Charles Fisher, board members will be formally inducted and a guest speaker—Liwordson Vijayabalan from TMRRW Inc.—will be featured.

We look forward to welcoming you at this year’s AGM!

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It’s always a pleasure to welcome a new member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and this week we’re delighted to “formally” welcome FIVE businesses to our growing family.

We encourage you to reach out to the following:

Blackwell Cycle: James Grant and John Elliott are co-owners of this business, located at the intersection of Blackwell Sideroad and Blackwell Road, once a station stop on the Grand Trunk Railway. The rail line has been replaced with a multi-use pathway, and a few metres from this historic right-of-way can be found Blackwell Cycle. Focused on offering quality products along with knowledgeable and objective sales advice and guidance, Blackwell Cycle, and its associated business, Wawanosh Watercraft, are the antithesis of the big box, chain store buying experience. With a history going back to 1992, the business has earned a reputation as one of the area’s premier cycling and outdoor retailers. Visit them in person or online at www.blackwellcycle.com. (519) 491-1777.

Gina Marie Photography: Owner Gina Marie Robertson worked for nearly three decades as a nurse. Now with her photography business, which can be found online at ginamariephotography.ca, Gina Marie talks about the “one BIG lesson” that nursing has taught her: “Life is precious. Life is short. Live it; love it; embrace it. If there’s something that isn’t quite working, change it. Last but not least, DOCUMENT IT! Take more pictures of your loved ones. Take more pictures of your adventures, your milestones, or whatever it is that reaches your soul. This is your legacy. Pass it on!” Gina Marie can also be reached at (519) 542-6138.

O’tools Cart & Parts: Donald Brooks is the owner of this business, now in its 13th year. Located in Forest, O’tools is a certified Club Car dealer, specializing in new, used and custom golf carts and golf cart parts. With a summer staff of 10, the busy location on Highway 21 sells, repairs and rents golf carts for non-golf recreational and commercial uses to both the local market and distant customers. The business can be located online at www.otools.ca. Their phone number is (519) 786-5902.


BeeFound Business Optimization Inc.: Sean Iovacchini owns BeeFound, which is based in Sarnia. The business is described online (at www.beefound.ca) as a cutting-edge interactive media and imaging company that captures and creates only the best aerial images and video for any project. Sean can be reached at (519) 704-0214.

Ubreakifix-Sarnia: Luke Faria is a franchise owner of Ubreakifix and plans to open in Sarnia this coming May. UBreakiFix fixes electronic devices (it’s in their name after all). From the classic phone drop in the parking lot to the tablet in the toilet, they’ve seen it all. They understand how traumatic it is when you break your favourite device and wants you to feel better the moment you walk in. The corporate website is www.ubreakifix.com and Luke can be reached at (647) 898-8178.


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It may be a little chilly outside, but things will be heating up at this month’s Business After 5, which takes place on Wednesday, February 20 at Valley Axe, located at 1886 London Line, Sarnia.

With a theme of “Challenge Yourself,” the event, which is sponsored by Valley Axe and the Sarnia and District Chapter of Human Resources Professionals Association, will be a great place to reconnect with members of the business community.

It’s also an opportunity to meet the two new faces on the Chamber team—those folks are introduced HERE.

“We always look forward to opportunities like the Business After 5 to put faces to names,” said Chamber President and CEO Shirley de Silva. “Our thanks go out to our sponsors—the Human Resources Professionals Association and Valley Axe—for making these events such a memorable part of the Chamber experience.”


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There are two new faces on the team at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

Fatema Bhabrawala is our new Membership Coordinator, having joined the team early in January. Her duties related to the Chamber will include updating our member database and taking steps to ensure that member accounts are current.

A second new member of the team is Gail Ann Bondar, who is also new to the Sarnia-Lambton community. She joins the Chamber team as Manager of Member Engagement & Services.

“We are delighted to welcome these two additions to our team,” said Chamber President and CEO Shirley de Silva. “While they are new in their roles, we’re confident that our members will quickly see a positive impact on the effectiveness of the organization. Please welcome them to the Chamber team!”



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The Enbridge Famous 5 Speaker Series in Sarnia-Lambton, an ongoing series that is co-sponsored by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, is featuring Heather Moyse, a multi-sport athlete and inspirational speaker, at the next event, which takes place on Thursday, February 7, 2019 at the Holiday Inn, 1498 Venetian Boulevard, Point Edward.

Tickets for the event, which includes lunch, are on sale now through Eventbrite.

Moyse is a four-time Olympian an two-time Olympic gold medalist who first captured the nation’s attention in 2010 while standing on the Olympic podium with Calgary native Kaillie Humphries. After setting start records all over Europe on the World Cup circuit, the duo made Canadian history on home soil after bombing down the track to Canada’s first-ever gold medal in the bobsled event.

Moyse has also competed in rugby and track cycling.

She and Humphries successfully defended their bobsled title after a thrilling come-from-behind victory at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Moyse also represented Canada at the 2012 Pan-American Cycling Championships in Argentina and on the National Senior Women’s Rugby team in 22 international games and four international rugby sevens tournaments, including the 2013 Rugby Sevens World Cup in Moscow.

A lifelong humanitarian and proud native of Prince Edward Island, Moyse donates her time and talent to many community events and national charities, earning her the inaugural Randy Starkman Olympian Humanitarian Award, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, and the Order of Canada.

She is the author of Redefining ‘Realistic,’ a personal invitation from Moyse to her readers to believe in the possibilities and discover, for themselves, what they are truly capable of achieving.

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The federal government recently announced it had made available $1.6 billion to support Canada’s struggling oil and gas sector. While the Federal Government’s recognition of the crisis faced by Canada’s energy sector was welcome, the funds are a “band-aid” solution to what is a much larger structural issue.

Our regulatory system continues to put Canadian jobs and Canadian prosperity in jeopardy. We cannot get our energy products to global markets because not even the Federal Government seems able to get major infrastructure projects approved, let alone businesses.

A recent report by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce—A Competitive Transition: How Smarter Climate Policy can help Canada lead the transition to a low carbon economy—made it clear our energy resources are of strategic importance. Canadian oil and gas producers must be given the opportunity to lead Canada’s strategy to reduce emissions, because only they know how to make investments and drive innovation.

Getting support right for this sector is not about offering the sector loans; it is about creating a regulatory system that will get projects like the Trans Mountain Expansion completed. This is the “support” Alberta is asking for, and it is the action from the Federal Government that Canada needs.

A consistent, fair and non-burdensome regulatory system is the backbone of a strong economy. Without a regulatory system that can get major projects approved to move our energy to tidewater, we will continue to lose approximately $80 million a day.

This endangers the competitiveness of our economy and means fewer resources for essential public services or the commercialization of clean technologies. Without a regulatory system free from layered, duplicative standards and regulations, the cumulative costs will make climate policies too expensive for Canadian businesses. A regulatory system that is predictable, transparent, and free of needless cumulative costs, comes first. Doing it in the reverse is putting the cart before the horse.

The Canadian Chamber will continue advocacy work on Bill C-69 to make sure major projects and foreign investment in this country are supported by a regulatory system that is predictable, clear and objective in its assessments.

This also means making it clear to decision-makers that they must take action to reduce the cumulative costs businesses face so that carbon pricing does not become layered with other additional costs and regulatory standards.

Keep an eye out for our latest report, The Cumulative Cost of Climate Policy, which will make key recommendations on how to achieve meaningful climate action at the lowest possible cost to Canadian businesses.

The above commentary comes from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is a member.

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