If you’re a business owner looking down the road to the day when you can comfortably turn over the operation to someone else, the idea of an Employee Share Ownership Plan may be one worth investigating.

With that in mind, the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce has asked ESOP Builders, a member organization dedicated to helping business owners on a journey that would include allowing employees to acquire ownership, to host a workshop intended to help with the decision making process.

The workshop, which will take place on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 in the Chamber’s boardroom office at 556 Christina St. N., will include the insights of Perry Phillips, founder and CEO of ESOP Builders, and Marc Lacoursière, president of the Achievement Centre, an organization that provides professional development programs, coaching, and strategic planning to large and small companies throughout the world.

Phillips has helped complete more than 160 ESOPs for small and medium-sized Canadian companies over the last 20 years. Lacoursière has held senior leadership positions in both small privately held businesses and large multi-national organizations and will be speaking about the importance of “ownership thinking.”

Included in the $45 registration fee (Chamber member price) will be a copy of “ESOPs in Canada,” a book authored by Phillips. Non-members will pay $60 for the workshop.

Those attending will learn how an ESOP and ownership thinking can help:

—attract high-level quality employees;
—retain key employees;
—create a culture of employees who think and act like owners;
—improve productivity and profitability;
—finance an owner’s transition, and on their own timetable; and
—create a lasting business legacy.

The March 20 event begins at 7:30 a.m. with a complimentary hot breakfast followed by the presentation and workshop from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Register by clicking HERE.




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There may still be winter weather in Sarnia-Lambton (no matter what your favourite rodent may be saying), but at the Sarnia Riding Club come Wednesday, February 21, it will surely be “toasty warm” as Chamber members gather for our Business After 5.

The event takes place at 980 Riding Club Lane, which is north off Lakeshore Road between Indian and Murphy Roads.

Networking can be one of the best “antidotes” to an otherwise dreary month. And here’s a tip: put the skills you pick up at Karen Minty’s “Stranger Danger” workshop to work.

We’ll see you there!



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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce received “good news” just a few days ago: news of the renewal of our accreditation by the Chamber Accreditation Council of Canada, a non-profit organization established to set standards throughout the country.

As an accredited organization, the Chamber is able to verify, locally and throughout the region and beyond, that we are run in a strategic and professional way and that we have reached a standard of excellence as evaluated by an independent organization.

Accreditation is a formal acknowledgment that member chambers of commerce/boards of trade have been successfully evaluated against rigorous national standards of policy, service, and performance.

The Chamber Accreditation Council of Canada includes various provincial Chamber organizations, including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, both of which the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce belongs.




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With less than two weeks until the Annual General Meeting of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce takes place, we have a request: please REGISTER NOW for the Wednesday, February 28, 2018 event.

Having an accurate count will help Chamber staff plan for seating and refreshments.

The event will take place in the Gateway Room of the St. Clair Corporate Centre, with networking from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by the call to order and the formalities, including various reports along with business items that include the election of directors and the swearing in of executive officers.

We have two special guest speakers at this year’s AGM—Dr. Katherine Albion, the newly appointed executive director of the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park, and James Temple, chief corporate responsibility officer at PwC Canada.

It will be a great time to find out all that’s happening at the Chamber and the exciting times ahead. We hope to see you there!

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An upcoming coffee table book project is well on its way to becoming a reality, with about half the available number of sponsorships now secured, which means now is the right time to step forward to avoid disappointment.

The book, Sarnia Lambton Simply Sensational, is being produced by Richard Bain, a renowned Canadian landscape photographer, in partnership with the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. The foreword to “Simply Sensational” is being authored by now-retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to command a mission at the International Space Station and who was born and raised in the area.

Both Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley and Lambton County Warden Bill Weber have offered their enthusiastic support for the project.

Richard Bain’s work has included a number of similar projects, completed successfully in partnership with several regional groups, including Chambers in Stratford, Niagara, London, Guelph, and Kitchener-Waterloo. Without exception,  those with whom he has worked have seen positive results from those projects.

Sponsors—which may include businesses, organizations seeking visibility in the area, and local municipalities—will have several copies of Simply Sensational which can be distributed to clients, employees and others. Additional copies will be made available through Ontario bookstores or directly from the Chamber.

If your organization would like to ensure your spot on the list of sponsors, contact Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber, directly at (519) 336-2400, ext. 1, or by email: sdesilva@slchamber.ca.

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Industry in Ontario is feeling the impact of the rising minimum wage and significant labour reforms, increasing global and U.S. competition, consistent over-regulation, rising input costs and challenges to accessing talent.

All these insights come from the second annual Ontario Economic Report, issued by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

Access to talent remains the largest impact on competitiveness for some 77 percent of Ontario businesses, according to the Report, which contains original economic analysis.

Highlights of the Report:

—Nearly half of businesses are losing confidence in Ontario’s economy;
—Nearly two-thirds of businesses cite input costs for their lack of confidence;
—One in every four small businesses in Ontario projects declining revenue in 2018;
—Contribution of non-financial businesses to Ontario’s Gross Domestic Product is deteriorating; and
—Ontario’s historically low unemployment rate is misleading since more people remove themselves from the workforce or siply give up the search.

Confidence in the broader Ontario economy is at an all-time low of 23 percent.

Economic policy from government was cited as the number one reason businesses lacked confidence in the economy, followed by the high price of input costs, high business tax rates, and a high level of provincial debt.

In the Business Prosperity Index section of the Report, Ontario businesses are said to be relatively more prosperous than compared to historical levels.

While on the surface this is positive, as businesses have more resources available to them to respond to changing business conditions, there is a deterioration in the contribution of non-financial businesses to Ontario’s GDP.

The Report summarizes that a hesitation by business to grow or invest in the face of growing financial resources indicates that Ontario possesses a higher risk operating environment.



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As local companies will discover on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, there is a largely untapped source of quality employees out there.

Through the “DiscoverAbility Forum,” held at the Holiday Inn in Sarnia/Point Edward and sponsored in part by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Business SenseAbility is partnering with local employment agencies to outline the real, proven advantages of employing people with disabilities.

The event is FREE but registration is required. Click HERE to register.

As you will hear from local inclusion champions, hiring people with disabilities has a positive impact on business growth and can give the business the competitive advantage it needs.

Keynote speaker Lisa Kelly will provide the business case for hiring people with disabilities and present an online toolkit designed to provide employers with a “roadmap” that outlines the benefits of hiring those with disabilities and the tools they need to start hiring the talent they need.

Hiring people with disabilities is not just “doing the right thing,” it is “doing the smart thing for your business.”

The event is in support of Community Employment Services Lambton College, Community Living Sarnia-Lambton, the Goodwill Career Centre, Goodwill Industries—Essex, Kent, Lambton, Lambton County Development Services, The Workplace Group and the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

Breakfast will begin at 7 a.m., with the keynote beginning at 7:20 a.m. sharp, followed by the panel of inclusion champions. There will be local community service booths set up to give attendees an opportunity for networking and connecting with local service providers who can assist with inclusive hiring plans.


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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, an umbrella organization of which the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is a member, has outlined a set of clear priorities that will give Canada a competitive edge, improve productivity and grow the economy.

In “10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins,” the Chamber is offering a roadmap to what’s possible with a focus when we all work together.

Included in the “10 Ways”:

—Make Canada a Magnet for Business Investment;
—Ensure a Globally Competitive North America;
—Make Canada an Agri-food Powerhouse;
—Develop Agile Workforce Strategies;
—Make All of Canada an Export Gateway;
—Improve Regulatory Efficiency, Achieve Regulatory Alignment and Ensure the Unrestricted Movement of Goods and People Across Canada;
—Help SMEs Trade and Grow;
—Provide Opportunities for Business Development to Support Self-determination for Indigenous Peoples;
—Make Canada a Global Innovator;
—Make Canada the World’s One-stop Shop for Green Resources and Technology.

Along with a detailed document, which can be found HERE, the Chamber has produced a video which gives a glimpse into what is possible.


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What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you walk into a room full of strangers?

“Stranger Danger! I don’t know what to say, how to introduce myself, or what to talk about. So I’m going to only talk to people I know, take frequent bathroom breaks and leave early without ever meeting anyone new.”


Networking is one of the most important marketing tools for businesses to ensure their long-term success. Yet, it is one of the most intimidating, time-consuming, and poorly executed methods used. For those new to the game, it can sometimes result in uncomfortable introductions, awkward silences, and quick getaways to the food table to recover.

But it doesn’t have to be like that! Networking is a learnable skill that even the most introverted people can learn to do with ease.

Chamber member Karen Minty, a well-known writer and networking pro, is offering a two-hour workshop to help change that thinking for the better, giving you a quick overview of the what, when, why, and where to network, with easy practical tips that you can try out right there at the workshop.

Put Stranger Danger behind you and learn to network like a pro.

The event takes place Friday, February 16 at 9 a.m. in the Chamber Boardroom, at 556 Christina St. N. Limited space available so register today by email at karen@fortyhours.com. Cost is $35+HST. Tickets are going fast, so don’t delay!

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“Red Tape”—loosely defined as the needless “piling on” of rules and regulations—is an ongoing challenge for businesses across the province and right here in Sarnia-Lambton.

We intend to keep the pressure on the government to reduce Red Tape by sharing your stories about how these types of regulation have impacted your business.

With our links to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and its annual Business Confidence Survey, we’ll be helping to spread the word.

Please send us your story today. You can email us HERE.



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