It may hard to believe, but the fact is that more than a few members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce tend to overlook Member Only Benefits to which they are entitled.

Kim Inniss-Petersen, the Chamber’s manager of Member Engagement and Retention, is on a mission: to begin conversations designed to correct that oversight.

Being a member of the Chamber brings a variety of benefits, from networking opportunities, discounts on products and services, and special pricing on events organized by partner organizations.

The list is almost endless. With that in mind, Kim would like to talk to you as a first step in developing a “strategy map” that could help you take full advantage of your Chamber membership.

Reach out today at or call her at (519) 336-2400.

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A rebate currently available to landlords who own properties with vacant units is staying in place for at least the next two years as decided unanimously by County Council on April 4.

President and CEO Shirley de Silva appealed to Council to keep the Vacancy Rebate Program in place as it represents an opportunity for Sarnia-Lambton to attract investors and entrepreneurs to the area.  The Chamber’s view came together after a roundtable discussion among members and resulted in the  Chamber’s letter to County Council that can be seen HERE.

Other presenters included Steve Park, a Realtor and president of the Sarnia Lambton Real Estate Board, and Alex Jongsma, a past chair of the Chamber and a well-known property owner.

Plans are underway to work with members on responding to vacancy challenges, taking into account opportunities that will help the economy grow.


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There are now two formal opportunities for Chamber members to exercise their “networking muscles.”

Two groups—NRG1 and NRG2—meet on alternate weeks (Tuesday and Thursday morning, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.) and both have limited spots available for Chamber members, says Kim Inniss-Petersen, manager of Membership Engagement and Retention.

The groups are a great way to get connected with other members on a personal level.

Each group has a maximum number of 30 Chamber members in attendance, and only one person from a business category can join. Once a spot is filled, new applicants go on a waiting list.

The size and exclusivity of the group allow for ample face to face time for referral opportunities, raising the profile of a business without competing.

There is no cost to participate in the group as it is included with Chamber membership.

Any Chamber interested in hearing more information about the Network Referral Groups can contact Kim by email:

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If there’s one thing that Richard Bain has learned over several years of producing coffee table books like the one he’s doing in partnership with the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce it’s that the first impressions of an area can sometimes be misleading.

“When we first connected with the Chamber, I was drawn to the water, probably because of the fact that I’m a sailor,” said Richard, who first launched his Binea Press business in 2003. “But it wasn’t long before I began seeing a much bigger picture that is being reflected in our book for this area.”

That book, Simply Sensational Sarnia-Lambton, will go a long way toward describing what Richard now sees as a much richer landscape than first imagined.

“This is not just pictures of people walking through parks,” said Richard, who began his business career in the telecommunications business, eventually turning a hobby into what has become a professional photography publishing business under the Binea Press moniker.

Richard Bain

Today, he has produced some two dozen books, including five involving various Chambers throughout the province.

Famed Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has agreed to write the foreword to Simply Sensational Sarnia-Lambton.

“All of the books we’ve produced have been about what makes the community ticks, including the businesses, the institutions of higher learning, those in the health care profession and everything that makes a place like Lambton County so vibrant and appealing,” said Richard.

With a target publication date of October and several organizations already lined up as sponsors, now is the time to act, says Chamber CEO Shirley de Silva.

“There are just a few remaining spots to fill,” she says. “We don’t want anyone to be disappointed.”

Richard adds that one group of people who won’t be disappointed are those who get a chance to hold a copy of Simply Sensational Sarnia-Lambton in their hands.

“This is a book I know people will take pride in holding as an example of the diversity of Lambton County.”

Richard said he’s also open to specific suggestions on photo subjects for the coffee table book. He can be reached by email:

“It’s great to have an extra thousand pairs of eyes on what we’re creating with Simply Sensational Sarnia-Lambton.”

Partnership queries should be directed to Shirley de Silva, who can be reached at (519) 336-2400, ext. 1 or by email (


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Nominations for the 2018 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards (OBAA) officially open next Monday, April 9, 2018 at an event to take place at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia.

The 11:30 a.m. event, to which media, past winners, and sponsors are being invited, will be kick off a process that culminates in the Friday, October 12, 2018 gala event, also at the Imperial Theatre.

While nominations are largely shifting to an online process, including submissions once a business has accepted the nomination, paper nominations will be accepted at branches of Libro Credit Union, the OBAA’s presenting sponsor and the Chamber office.

A significant difference this year is one that is expected to dramatically increase the number of participants, that being a decision to open up nominations to all businesses in Lambton County, not just Chamber members.

“We believe the OBAA process can be the start of a journey that leads to membership,” said 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.”

Look for more information on the entire OBAA process, including how nominations are going online, in future editions of the Chamber newsletters and on our website.


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Shirley de Silva, CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, will be speaking before Lambton County Council next week at its Wednesday, April 4 meeting, presenting both an overview of the Chamber’s strategic direction and a summary of its position around a proposal to do away with a property tax rebate known as the Commercial Vacancy Rate.

Details on the Chamber’s position will be presented to Lambton County Council ahead of its meeting next week.

As part of her remarks, de Silva will share with members of County Council on how the Chamber is continuing a renewal process that will help all communities in the County grow.

“Our vision, and our ongoing commitment, is to serve the entire communities where our members will do business, building on a foundation of purposeful initiatives and cooperative actions,” said de Silva, ahead of the presentation to County Council. “When we set our minds to work together, and I’m talking about the business community and those of you who your constituencies have trusted to represent them around the table here at Lambton County Council, great things happen.”


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With Leadwave Technologies sponsoring April’s Business After 5, to take place at Brownstones Sports Lounge and Restaurant, you can forgive the kind of pun that includes an invitation to “backup” your vehicle when you arrive on Wednesday, April 18.

Well, we’ll try.

At any rate, “I.T”s the place to be to “network.” April is like any other month in that it’s a great time to gather, to catch up with Chamber members you may have missed over the winter months, and brush up on your connections.

We’ll see you there!

Remember: the event is a private one for Chamber members and guests. Others are subject to a $10 entrance fee. Visa, MasterCard and Debit are all accepted for drink payment and you must be 19+ to attend.



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A report issued by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce shows how businesses should strategically “brace for change” when it comes to taking full advantage of future technologies, including automation, artificial intelligence, and advanced robotics.

In a report titled “Skills for an Automated Future,” the report outlines how global labour markets are adapting to the impact of new technology and the demand for skills to match.

As one participant in a Canadian Chamber of Commerce roundtable put it: “We are moving from a knowledge economy to a wisdom economy.”

In the report’s executive summary, the  Canadian Chamber of which the local Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is a member, points out the need for businesses to view employee development as a competitive edge for attracting and maintaining the best talent.

There is also a need for an updating of government funding mechanisms for training to recognize the various educational pathways.

“The measurement of skills and competencies needed in the workforce, the transferability of qualifications and more flexibility for educational institutions can all support the workforce adaptation for future technology,” according to the report.

The full report can be accessed HERE.



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Organizers of this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards and Gala Event are getting ready for what is arguably the first in a number of “key dates” leading to the big event this October.

We’re talking about the day when nominations open for the OBAAs, which will be Monday, April 9 at a “launch” event held at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia.

Beginning at 11:30 a.m. media and guests, including past winners and representatives from Libro Credit Union, our lead sponsor, will “officially” open the process that leads to the OBAAs on Friday, October 12 at the Imperial Theatre.

Significantly, the Chamber has opened up nominations this year to All businesses in Sarnia-Lambton, a decision that is considered to be a strategic element in the organization’s renewal process.

“We believe the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards (OBAA)  process can be the start of a journey that leads to membership,” said 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.”

Look for more information on the entire OBAA process, including how nominations are going online, in future editions of the Chamber newsletters and on our website.




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Former figure skating champion Elizabeth Manley, who won a silver medal at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Canada, will take the stage at the Enbridge Famous 5 speaker series on Thursday, April 12, 2018, sharing her experiences, including her well-known battles with depression.

Manley is the latest in the speaker series, which is sponsored in part by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

Single tickets for the event, which takes place at the Holiday Inn, 1498 Venetian Blvd., Point Edward, are $40 (a table of five is $300). The event begins at 11:30 a.m.

Tickets, which can be purchased by clicking HERE, should be purchased by April 9, 2018.


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