Note: As many radio listeners already know, the Chamber, in partnership with Blackburn Radio, reaches out to the business community in a “Chamber Minute” that airs on Fridays. We thought this would be of interest to readers of the Chamber Times.

As we prepare for the holiday season, one of the very best opportunities to meet and mingle with members of the business community is coming up very soon.

It’s our “Yule Shop and Mingle” Business After 5 event—which will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 13, a week earlier than usual.

We hope you’ll join us starting at 5 p.m. at the Dante Club, located at 1330 London Road in Sarnia.

Along with the traditional goodies that are being served, we have created an opportunity to do some serious shopping, thanks to some great vendors that we’re bringing in to share our space.

There are still a few spots remaining to come on board for this experience, so don’t be bashful. Call the Chamber office today at 519-336-2400 and speak with Ana for details.

In the meantime, we wish you our very best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. It is indeed a special time of year ahead and we sincerely hope to see you on Wednesday, December 13 for a chance to offer our greetings in person.

See you there!

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Government of Canada and Government of Ontario, is offering a FREE half-day seminar that will benefit companies interested in exploring how exporting can make a positive difference in their growth trajectory.

The seminar, which takes place Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 at the Chamber’s offices at 556 Christina St. N., will run from 9 a.m. to noon.

The first 15 businesses to register will be able to attend the seminar, which is being offered by the Canada-Ontario Export Forum, Ontario’s Regional Trade Network.

The organization is a partnership of federal, provincial, municipal and non-profit organizations—all dedicated to helping Ontario companies export.

The Chamber’s Global Business Opportunities Community is hosting the seminar in its role as a facilitator of export development opportunities in Sarnia-Lambton.

Companies that attend will be able to explore ways they can assess and develop their export readiness. They will also learn what resources are available to help them achieve export success.

Participants will also receive an overview of key export support resources and partners that can help small and medium enterprises become “export ready” and export to global markets.

Registration information can be found HERE.

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Karen Minty, a new member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce through her Forty Hours business, is offering individuals the opportunity to build an effective introductory tool that she says will help set them on the right path.

Her upcoming “Elevator Pitch” seminar is one of the latest examples of how Minty is helping make a difference in the community.

The event takes place on Thursday, Nov. 30 at the offices of EXIT Realty (1323 Michigan Ave., Sarnia). The cost is $45 for the 9 a.m. to noon seminar.

To register, email Minty.

Forty Hours is Minty’s umbrella business that she says is about helping individuals and organizations create positive change in the way they present themselves.

“Together, we’ll dig deep to uncover that ‘superpower’ of yours,” said Minty. “We’ll help you to embrace that difference, push it to the forefront, and weave your story in a way that empowers you. Properly told, your story will resonate with people and draw them in as potential clients or investors.”

The “Elevator Pitch” is often can be a first step in that process.

Minty offers workshops, speaking engagements, and individual appointments as a way to help individuals present their message in a clear, concise, and engaging way.

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Three new members have come on board recently at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

We are extending a warm welcome to Bricks 4 Kidz, which uses Lego products to provide a fun, hands-on learning and building experience focused on the increasingly important STEM model (short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Critical thinking for kids is part of what makes Bricks 4 Kidz so popular.

Bricks 4 Kidz is located at 1030 Confederation St, Unit 8A. Owners Stephen Devlin and Celyn Marsh would love to hear from you. They can be contacted at (519) 381-5856.

Another new member is Young Drivers of Canada, locally operated by Alexa and Alex Pape. Previously Alex had worked with great success at Young Drivers in Ottawa. Then a year ago, the couple decided to relocate to the area to be closer to their extended family. “The risk and uncertainty of starting our own business have been so worth it,” said Alexa. “We have truly enjoyed serving Sarnia and area and plan to continue to do so for years to come.”

The third new member is Karen Minty and her fortyhours business. Minty is a professional communicator/facilitator who is featured elsewhere in this newsletter.

We warmly welcome these “newcomers” to the Chamber family!



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A special feature from Hendrik Brakel, written in his role as senior director, Economic, Financial and Tax Policy with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Boom! Canada hit 4 .5% growth in the second quarter after a torrid 3.7% expansion in Q1!

Sounds like growth in India, not a sleepy advanced economy. As a result, Canada’s deficit is lower than expected `and the government announced additional spending.

So is it time to stop worrying and pop the champagne?

There are four key drivers of this bonanza : (1) export growth thanks to the oil and gas sector ; (2) consumption, because Canadians continue to borrow and spend like there is no tomorrow; (3) housing which saw the biggest gains in 8 years; and (4) a healthy gain in business investment. The question is whether these are likely to continue?

Firstly, Canada’s exports are set to rise 8% this year, which is superb but is almost entirely driven by oil and gas sales which are up almost 42% so far this year. If you take out the petroleum sector, Canada’s exports grew just 1%.

But the export boom won’t last: the strong Loonie and US weakness caused Q3 exports to fall 11.5%, while imports fell 7.1%. Net exports will be a drag on GDP growth for the rest of 2017.

Consumption will also slow down in Q3. Retail sales fell two months in a row (July and August). And job growth slowed: just 43K jobs were created in Q3, the weakest quarter in a year, with gains entirely in the self-employment category. Private sector employment fell for the first time since 2015.

Housing has been a powerful driver of growth, but the foreign buyer tax hit Canada’s largest and fastest growing real estate market in May.

Toronto’ s home sales have fallen 35% while prices were off 20%

The effects are likely to be temporary, as we saw in Vancouver, but will surely be felt in Q3.

The star of investment spending has been the recovery in the oil and gas sector but that is also facing tough times. The National Energy Board’s expanded focus on downstream emissions has created an effective moratorium on new energy projects. TransCanada finally pulled the plug on Energy East and in the last two years, $82 billion of investment has been cancelled.

So, we can expect a sharp downturn in exports and housing alongside much weaker consumption and business investment. Statistics Canada will release Q3 growth on December 1 and we expect it to be below 1%. What should we do? How do we keep growing?

Look around the world – these are exciting times in tax policy!

France has just embarked on major tax reforms, with a 2017 budget that reduces or eliminates several business taxes, while lowering overall rates. The UK government undertook a major tax reform effort last year but backed away from the most contentious measures in April 2017. And in the US, Congressional Republicans are determined to press ahead with the biggest tax reform in 30 years, to slash the general corporate rate from 35% to 20% while eliminating certain tax credits.

What is Canada doing in the midst of our trading partners’ laser-like focus on competitiveness? We’ve just spent most of the summer in a ferocious battle over income sprinkling.

Instead, Canada could create an internationally competitive system of business taxation that rewards entrepreneurship, encourages businesses to invest in the technologies, skills, and capacity they need to grow and attracts capital and highly qualified people from around the world. That would ensure Canadian growth for generations!

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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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