George Mallay, the recently retired general manager of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, received the Community Service Award from Life Sciences Ontario at its annual awards dinner last month.

Mallay, who was also an ex-officio member of the board for the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, was recognized for playing a leading role in establishing the award-winning Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park.

Now happily retired after 21 years as SLEP’s GM, Mallay is also past co-chair of the Bluewater Sustainability Initiative. He also served on the board of the Lambton College Foundation and in 2016 was chair of the Ontario Cleantech Alliance.

Our congratulations go out to George for this award.

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We have clearly entered an age of heightened awareness when it comes to what constitutes sexual harassment.

With recent exposes and resignations seemingly coming at us non-stop, there remains a critical opportunity for workplaces to take a stand to prevent inappropriate and harmful behaviours from taking root.

So says Andrew Harkness, strategy advisor with Workplace Safety & Prevention Services, who calls the recent news in the entertainment industry a “wake-up call for organizations.”

Here then are some tips to help your organization prevent this type of workplace harassment:

—Assume that harassment may exist in your organization. “I often hear people say violence and harassment isn’t a problem in their workplace,” said Harkness. “But how do you know if you haven’t looked into it.” Keeping an open mind toward understanding that some employees may be fearful of coming forward for various reasons and that one of those reasons may be workplace culture.

—Ensure you’re compliant with legal requirements. Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act sets out roles and responsibilities with respect to workplace violence and harassment, including sexual harassment. Employer responsibilities include developing and implementing policies and programs, and reporting, investigating and resolving incidents. Learn more about what the law says by clicking HERE.

—Communicate policies, programs, roles and responsibilities to all employees so they know that preventing violence and harassment is a company principle and understand what’s expected of them.

—Create a code of behaviour that promotes civility and respect. “If you know how you expect people to behave towards each other, you can coach this behaviour and prevent bullying or harassment from happening,” says Harkness.

—Assess what’s going on in your organization. Involve multiple players in a conversation: Human Resources, Health and Safety, Security, etc. They may be aware of, but not sharing incidents of harassment, bullying or discrimination.

—Conduct an employee survey. Consider using WSPS’ employee violence risk assessment questionnaire (available HERE) as a model.

—Implement training programs for all employees based on a needs assessment. Start with people in leadership and supervision roles.

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A motion that would see Lambton County Council approve the elimination of the Commercial Vacancy Rebate, first announced several weeks ago, has now been tabled to allow for consideration ahead of next month’s meeting on April 4, 2018.

County Council is inviting the public to comment on the proposed elimination of the Vacancy Rebate at their next meeting in April. We encourage anyone who wants to comment on this matter to do any of the following:
  • Request to speak to Council on April 4th by emailing before March 28
  • Send a letter to the Warden and County Council before March 28 and your letter will be included in the April 4 agenda package.
  • Send a letter to the county councilors individually before April 4.
For more information on the proposed changes to the Vacancy Rebate, click here.


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While commending Lambton County for its largely fiscally responsible draft budget document, the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce says a long-term problem, a looming infrastructure deficit, flat demographic growth, and the uncertainty of future government grants, has not been fully addressed.

In a letter signed by 2017-18 Chamber chair Michael John Kooy and CEO Shirley de Silva this week, the Chamber expressed its concerns as part of a consultation process.

“Your visible commitment to keeping taxes manageable is appreciated,” said the letter ( Chamber County Budget Response 2018 )

The approach, however, is concerning for the future, with the Chamber offering a cautionary note.

“It does not reduce the County’s exposure to still deeper financial and operational exposures from causes that are already visible on the horizon,” said the Chamber’s letter.

Those include further government funding cuts and service downloads, interest rate fluctuations, inflationary cost increases and capital asset replacement requirements.

“The Chamber believes that these risks warrant an approach that moves beyond the point of line-by-line budget reviews to a focus on non-levy-based revenue generation,” said the letter to the County. “Renewed investment in the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership, strategic exploration of new economic development opportunities and responsible debt for key infrastructure projects are worthwhile investments that can result in new sources of revenue.”

The letter closes by encouraging County Council to continue working with the Chamber.

“The Chamber sees great potential in strengthening our collaborative approach. By applying our collective, local resources to a common purpose, we believe that Lambton County will continue to be a great—and economical—place in which to live, work and run a business.”



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Chris Gould, left, of Bluewater Regional Networks, with Jill Javier, co-founder of Bit City, a blockchain tech company with plans to set up shop in Sarnia-Lambton later this year.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is proud to salute a broadly based, highly collaborative initiative that was announced just last week, made up of key business organizations from both the public and private sector that share a passion for raising the profile of the Sarnia Lambton region as a community for innovation-led industries.

The initiative—Innovation Bridge—came about as the result of a brainstorming session involving leaders who realized that investors were spending a good deal of time having conversations with groups with a common purpose: to help nurture those investors and to help create momentum.

By creating an innovative alliance, the founding partners can support targeted efforts in investment attraction, business retention and expansion, cluster development and entrepreneurship.

It’s clear to anyone who attended Friday’s announcement that the fingerprints of the entire business community were visible.

The partners represent key players—from industry, government, academia, tech incubators and accelerators—coming together to create an environment like no other.

Those partners include:

—The Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership;
—Lambton College;
—Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park;
—Bioindustrial Innovation Canada;
—Bluewater Energy Park and Bio-industrial Park; and
—Bluewater Regional Networks.

Together they provide a $30 million research facility, 9,000 square feet of laboratory space, 11,500 square feet of pilot plant space, and 68 hectares of production space that companies can use for world-leading collaboration, and innovation.

“These are clearly exciting times for Sarnia Lambton and we congratulate the bright and passionate minds that have put in place Innovation Bridge,” said Chamber CEO Shirley de Silva. “Members of the Chamber, many of them already represented at Innovation Bridge, will certainly be among its strongest supporters.”

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Thursday, March 8 is International Women’s Day and for members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, it’s one day worthy of celebration, and not just because of the many, many women who make their companies strong (some as owners, others as key members of the management team).

It’s also a time when we can look to a future where gender equality and a commitment to parity in the workplace.

This year’s theme—#PressForProgress—has much to do with an overwhelming commitment to accelerate progress, something that is especially important given a World Economic Forum 2017 Global Gender Gap Report that suggests gender parity may be more than 200 years away.

Many of us at the Chamber believe that is simply unacceptable, which is one reason we’re joining in the push, doing what we can to lend our support to the global momentum that is striving for gender parity.

Of course, this won’t happen overnight. But, with individual decisions and the continuing commitment, by women and by men, to support the push for positive gains, day by day, change can be real.

It’s more than hope. It’s a commitment to make a difference.

So don’t be complacent. Push forward.

And think of ways YOU can demonstrate a commitment to gender inclusivity.

International Women’s Day is bigger than any one organization, community, or even country.

It’s an event that belongs to all of us. Be tenacious in your commitment to accelerating gender parity.

And Press for Progress.


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A well-crafted elevator pitch is THE most valuable piece of marketing your business can offer.” This is what Terry O’Reilly, marketing guru had to say when he recently spoke to a sold-out crowd in Sarnia.

Karen Minty has helped dozens of people craft their elevator pitch through her three-hour workshop that she is once again offering on March 7 from 9 a.m.-noon.

So what exactly is an elevator pitch? It can be your reply in a job interview when asked to describe yourself. It can be your introduction at networking events that gets the conversation started.

So what exactly is an elevator pitch? It’s a mini-speech, a way to tell your story in approximately 30-60 seconds (about the length of an elevator ride) that explains who you are, what you’re about and what you have to offer. While it’s most commonly used in a sales setting, its value extends much further. It can be an introduction when someone asks, “what do you do?” It can be your reply in a job interview when asked to describe yourself. It can be your introduction at networking events that gets the conversation started.

But honestly, the real value comes from the process. To borrow a term from Terry O’Reilly, it is “forced clarity.” In order to be so concise and succinct, you must dig deep, straight to your core value and decide what makes you unique. Then be able to articulate it in a few sentences in a way that grabs someone’s attention, resonates with them, and compels them to take an interest and ask more questions. This can result in increased sales, making better connections with the right people or landing that job. (It even works in dating!)

The elevator pitch workshop is a hands-on, step by step process of writing an elevator pitch. Karen Minty is often described by her workshop participants as a wordsmith who can chisel away the excess and wordsmith the content to creatively grabs people’s attention. While the process is the same for everyone, the end result is a unique, authentic pitch that accurately reflects who you are. By the end of the workshop, you will walk out with a polished ready-to-go 30-second pitch that can be adapted to any context or situation. A well-crafted elevator pitch is worth its weight in gold. Do you have one?

The next Elevator Pitch workshop takes place on Wednesday, March 7 from 9 a.m.-noon at the Chamber of Commerce board room, 556 N Christina Street. The cost is $45 + HST. To register, email


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Wednesday evening was a busy one as the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce held its Annual General Meeting, with six new members confirmed by election to the board of directors and incoming Chair Charles Fisher taking the reins of a revitalized organization.

Along with the customary reports from CEO Shirley de Silva and outgoing Chair Michael John Kooy (who presented his by video), the Chamber had two special guest speakers, Dr. Katherine Albion, executive director of the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park, and James Temple, chief corporate responsibility officer at PwC Canada.

It was a great evening, with networking taking place before the formalities began shortly after 7 p.m. and Justice Deborah Austin swearing in the executive, which included Chair Charles Fisher (Mainstreet Credit Union), First Vice Chair Ryan Bell (George, Murray, Shipley, Bell LLP), Second Vice Chair Mary Jean O’Donnell (MJ Waste Solutions), and Third Vice Chair Mike Service (Certified Windows & Doors).

Kathleen Mundy (Little Caesars) is the Chamber’s Hon. Secretary/Treasurer and Michael John Kooy takes on the role of Past Chair on the board.

Directors this year also include Jon McEachran, entrepreneur; Kurtis Gray, Lambton College; Karen Fischer, RK Fischer & Associates; Tammy Maure, London Road Pharmacy (Pharmasave), Judy McKeegan, JDW International; Jean Xu, Imperial; Andrew Merrick, Rose Paving; and Laura Hanlon, MPW Chartered Professional Accountants.

Ex-officio members are: Shirley de Silva, Chamber CEO and president; Karen Sanders, Lambton Federation of Agriculture; Joyce Doyle, Blue Water Chamber of Commerce (Port Huron); and Stephen Thompson, Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership.

Charles Fisher issued an impassioned vision of what’s ahead for the Chamber this year:



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This week’s introduction of the federal government’s budget is one that counts on a strong economy to fund its programs, adding almost $80 billion over the next five years to the total public debt.

That could be a major problem if the government’s assumptions fail to materialize, says the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in its analysis of the budget document.

Concerns that an increase in interest rates, an economic slowdown, or trade negotiations (or all of the above) could disrupt the government’s plans.

Still, where the budget is largely absent initiatives designed to help businesses as a whole, there are some positive new measures to help women entrepreneurs and small businesses who want to innovate.

Highlights of the budget include:

—Private corporations will still be able to maintain passive investments, but only up to $50,000 per year. The way in which they are taxed after $50,000 is simplified.

—A new Apprenticeship Grant for women and Pre-Apprenticeship Program to encourage under-represented groups to explore careers in the skilled trades.

—$100 million to develop the next generation of rural broadband, particularly the use of low Earth orbit satellites

—$573 million to implement a Digital Infrastructure Strategy

—$140 million for collaborative projects between business and colleges

—$105 million for regional development agencies to promote women-led businesses

—$1.2 billion to establish a new EI Parental Sharing Benefit

—Creation of an Advisory Council to develop plans for a National Pharmacare Program

—$8 million to modernize VIA Rail passenger service to continue assessing VIA’s high-frequency rail proposal

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Monica Shepley, left, the Chamber’s manager of Advocacy and Policy Development; and Shirley de Silva, Chamber CEO (right); met with Charles Ballard, Ontario’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change earlier this week as part of Advocacy Day at Queen’s Park.

Putting forward clear and distinct messages for what policies work for business (and what don’t) is part of the ongoing role that the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, along with members of the province-wide Chamber Network, take seriously.

The latest step in that strategy took place on Monday, Feb. 26, as Chamber representatives took part in Advocacy Day, an annual event organized by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

In a full day initiative involving a wide range of government ministries, Chambers from across the province met with representatives in a “team” format that served to bring the Chamber’s “Vote Prosperity” messages to Queen’s Park.

Before meeting with government representatives, Chamber officials were briefed on winning strategies for their advocacy efforts by expert advisors brought in by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

A series of meetings then took place throughout the afternoon.

Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, and Monica Shepley, the Chamber’s manager of Advocacy and Policy Development, were part of a group that connected with representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and the Ministry of Education.

This was a very worthwhile example of how Chambers from across the province continue to leverage their strengths in advocating on issues of critical importance to the Ontario business community.  Bringing the message to decision makers at Queen’s Park and doing so in a way that demonstrates unity of purpose has proven to be effective in the long run.


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