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Reflections on the year ahead

July 29, 2015

Originally posted on Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce:

As the first month of the chamber’s new fiscal year begins to wane, it’s appropriate that I reflect on the year that is unfolding.

The chamber is ably governed by a board of experienced, talented and enthusiastic directors who are committed to strengthening our membership and building community prosperity.  The executive council, let by our 2015-16 Chair of the Board, Karen Hourtovenko, is steadfast in wanting our message to be clear … that we are the voice of business, that we have an important role in changing the face of our community, province, and country with our advocacy work … and that being a part of the chamber membership is an integral part of business growth.

This year’s board will guide the initiation of our new Strategic Plan 2015-2017 accompanied by a dedicated group of volunteers who participate on our committees and task forces and our professional staff.  The tri-foci…

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Reflections on the year ahead

July 29, 2015

As the first month of the chamber’s new fiscal year begins to wane, it’s appropriate that I reflect on the year that is unfolding.

The chamber is ably governed by a board of experienced, talented and enthusiastic directors who are committed to strengthening our membership and building community prosperity.  The executive council, let by our 2015-16 Chair of the Board, Karen Hourtovenko, is steadfast in wanting our message to be clear … that we are the voice of business, that we have an important role in changing the face of our community, province, and country with our advocacy work … and that being a part of the chamber membership is an integral part of business growth.

This year’s board will guide the initiation of our new Strategic Plan 2015-2017 accompanied by a dedicated group of volunteers who participate on our committees and task forces and our professional staff.  The tri-foci strategic plan is built around the goals of advocacy, engagement and community prosperity and partnerships.  Lofty goals but ones we are all dedicated to achieving.  Every chamber member and every business owner in Greater Sudbury has a role to play.  If you are in business you should be a member of the chamber … the only grassroots, business organization dedicated to championing the voice of business and doing those things that no one person could do on their own.

If issues like downtown development, Ring of Fire, Ontario Pension Plan, WSIB, red tape, electricity rates, cumulative regulatory burden, Maley Drive, taxes, alternative service delivery, debt and deficits, cap and trade, networking, and so many others, are on your radar screen, then you will want to be a part of an organization that is addressing these priorities on your behalf.

We’re always interested in hearing what’s affecting your business and how we might assist.  Visit our refreshed website at www.sudburychamber.ca, or call us at 705-673-7133.

Until next time, all the best.

Debbi

 

Chamber launches new program for members

March 11, 2015

Here at the chamber, we are always racking our brains for new and exciting things we can offer our members. While some ideas don’t pan out, others hit the mark. We think this new program falls in the latter category.

The chamber is pleased to introduce its new “Sign and Dine” program. This program provides members with the opportunity to receive a generous gift card for simply making a membership referral. If a member’s warm lead becomes a new member of the chamber, we will reward you with a gift card to a chamber member restaurant of your choice.

It’s that easy!

Not only will you receive a $50 gift card to your favourite member restaurant, but you can feel proud that you will have impacted the growth of the chamber’s membership that, in turn, benefits all of us. A strong chamber contributes to a vital and progressive business community. An increased membership base strengthens the chamber’s voice when advocating issues of importance, provides valuable business connections for enterprise, and enhances the services and benefits we provide to our members.

How the program works:

  1. Connect with the business, discuss the benefits of chamber membership and reasons why they should join. Obtain the decision-maker’s agreement to a meeting with the chamber’s Membership Account Manager.
  2. Complete and submit our brief referral form. Be sure to let the business know you are referring them as a potential new member and that the chamber will be in touch with them.
  3. Our Membership Account Manager will contact the referred business to arrange a meeting.
  4. If your referral joins the chamber within 3 months of our first appointment with them, and pays their full year’s membership dues, you will receive a $50 gift card to a member restaurant of your choice (we will provide you with a full list of restaurants to choose from).

We developed this program as a way of saying thank you to those members who take the extra step in helping to grow the chamber’s membership base.

Want to learn how you can take part in the chamber’s “Sign and Dine” program? Click here for details.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this new program or anything else you would like to share. Have an idea you think we should explore? Email me at debbi@sudburychamber.ca.

Until next time, all the best.

Ontario Can’t Keep Sliding on Debt

December 11, 2014

The province of Ontario is currently treading the path of an unsustainable financial situation.

The chamber network is very concerned over the provincial debt and believes the government must quickly take bold action to improve it.

Over the previous fiscal year, the Government of Ontario spent $10.5 billion more than it collected in revenue. This is predicted to increase to about $12.5 billion in 2014-15. Net debt reached $267.2 billion in 2013-2014. The cost of servicing this debt is $10.6 billion in interest per year, or $29 million per day.

This isn’t just a recent issue however; provincial governments since 1990 have only been able to achieve a balanced budget or surplus seven times. For 18 of the past 25 years, governments in Ontario have run a budget deficit.

It isn’t just the ‘now’ we are concerned with, but the ‘soon-to-be’ as well as the future. Currently, the province is heading towards a point where debt and deficit will be much more difficult to deal with. The aging population will increase the need for government spending while reducing its tax base; borrowing will become more expensive as interest rates rise and investor confidence wanes; and Ontario’s economy can be expected to grow more slowly as a result of a shrinking workforce, stagnant labour productivity and a higher tax burden on remaining workers.

The OCC (Ontario Chamber of Commerce) in conjunction with our chamber released a report at the end of October entitled, How Bad Is It? What Do We Do About It? which provides a straightforward account of Ontario’s current fiscal situation. It finds that while Ontario’s fiscal situation is better than that of many other countries facing fiscal problems, the province is likely to reach a state of crisis unless it cuts spending and changes the ways it does business.

The government has a responsibility to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its own operations before considering broad tax increases to boost its revenues. According to a recent OCC survey, 93% of businesses in Ontario believe eliminating the deficit is an important priority.

The report outlines six approaches the government can take to cut spending and move along a more fiscally sustainable path. These recommendations include embracing Alternative Service Delivery (ASD), asset recycling to funnel the value of outdated government assets into new priorities and taking advantage of expertise, innovation and capital outside government. These approaches have been successful in reducing government spending while achieving key outcomes both abroad and in Ontario.

Read the full OCC report here: http://www.occ.ca/Publications/howbadisit_online.pdf

Until the next time, all the best.

Debbi

Employers Perpective on Skills Training in Ontario

September 19, 2014

Ontario’s labour force is among the most highly educated in the world. Yet, there is a gap between the knowledge and skills demanded by employers and those that education and training systems provide currently. The difficulty of filling vacancies compounded by Ontario’s aging population and slow labour force growth, makes it even more pressing that training systems work for the needs of employers and workers.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s (OCC) survey data presented in the report, Moving Forward Together, outlines that 28% of Ontario businesses have had difficulty filling job vacancies over the past 12-18 months due to a lack of skilled applicants. Meanwhile, provincial unemployment is at 7.5%, above the national average of 7.1%, and youth unemployment in Ontario remains high at 15.4%.

Debates have been spreading about who should pay, who the training providers should be and what types of training should take place. The challenge has always been to strike a balance between industry and government contributions and responsibility.

With new programs in play such as the Canada-Ontario Job Grant, it is increasingly important that the voice of employers be heard in the design and implementation of training initiatives. The Canada-Ontario Job Grant will cover two thirds of the cost of training a current or prospective worker, with the government providing up to $10,000.

Moving Forward Together—co-released by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce (GSCC)—outlines several recommendations on how the government can begin to move forward with the business community to provide streamlined and effective skills training programs for employer use with the goal of economic growth in mind. These recommendations include making programs, such as the Canada-Ontario Job Grant, more easily accessible and allowing for flexibility in employer contributions, as well as encouraging a sector-based approach to training that would allow similar employers to pool their resources.

This past April, the GSCC worked with the OCC and Essential Skills Ontario, to host a roundtable discussion on the issues businesses face in relation to skills training programs. We heard many reasons from our members about why employers shy away from investing in training, such as a lack of HR capacity, lack of financial resources for training, fear of poaching, and concern about turnover and the financial risk associated with investing in training. Other participants of our roundtable voiced that they had no choice but to train themselves due to the inability of finding the specific skills they need in the local labour market.

Canadian employers tend to underinvest in employee training relative to their counterparts in other countries.   With increased collaboration between industry, government, service providers and educational institutions, and a better recognition of the needs of employers, we may see a move towards enhanced national investment in training.

To check out the report, click here.

Until next time,

Debbi

Charting our Advocacy Priorities: 2014-2015

September 2, 2014

That time of year is fast approaching; the time when the chamber will be prioritising its advocacy initiatives for our new fiscal year.

At the chamber, advocacy is paramount and we take careful time and consideration when it comes to making the decisions on where to pool our resources. We analyse and consider issues our members face on a daily basis and we break those down carefully into goals and outcomes where we can have an impact. From our yearly public policy survey we can properly research the information we need to effectively advocate on behalf of our members. More so, we look at the issues our members face alongside the trends in the local economy to make the most of our efforts to influence change.

Through our advocacy initiatives, our chamber aims to create an open-for-business environment in the city, reduce red tape, improve the economic well-being of the city and business community and ensure the voice of business is heard at all political levels.

The chamber has been active on a number of issues this past year including the deregulation of store hours, city council structure, development charges, casino, municipal bylaws and road infrastructure.

Last week we hosted our annual Board Retreat to review the results of our public policy survey, to identify the priorities we will be addressing, and establish task forces to tackle each. The new task forces will be Maley Drive, Community Projects, Ring of Fire, and Downtown Growth. You will be able to read the proposed mandates of each of these task forces in the September issue of IMPACT.

In the meantime, you can read the chamber’s new Municipal Policy Document. This report outlines past and present municipal policy priorities and how we addressed each of those issues.

You can access the Municipal Policy Document here: http://sudburychamber.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Municipal-Policy-Document-web.pdf.

Thoughts on the chamber’s advocacy initiatives? If you have a business issue or ideas on what the chamber should be working on contact our policy team at policy@sudburychamber.ca.

Until next time, all the best. Debbi

The CCC is searching for champions to speak up

July 16, 2014

Most Canadians aren’t fully aware of the untapped potential of Canada’s natural resources.  Natural resources continue to drive our economic prosperity.  Industries involved in the production, processing and shipping of Canadian natural resources contribute $336 billion a year, or 21% of Canada’s GDP.  Despite the importance of these sectors, many widespread misperceptions remain.
Over the last year, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has been hard-pressed to highlight the prominent role natural resources play in the Canadian economy and in international trade.  The CCC continues to advance public policy solutions to address the competitiveness issues facing these sectors.
Specifically, the CCC is working on a pan-sectoral partnership: the Partnership for Resource Trade to remind people who live far from mines, oil fields, farms and forests, that they too are directly affected by the industries using those resources; as well as the opportunities available to Canada should they be seized.

Canada’s natural resource sectors are vast. The CCC has already published three reports on the electricity, mining and oil and gas sectors.
It is important to ensure Canadians engage in this discussion to make the federal government fully aware of the importance the natural resource sectors have on communities across Canada. The CCC will be asking for business leaders from every region and industry to champion this cause and speak out in their communities on the economic role natural resources have on exports.

The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce is committed to facilitating this partnership and will be looking for leaders in our community to come forth and speak for their sectors.

Progress will continue and the discussion around Canada’s natural resources needs to be explored. With large topics like the Ring of Fire being on many people’s minds as an opportunity we don’t want to pass us by, we need to make it clear to the government that we as Canadians are educating ourselves on the importance of our natural resources and the part they will play in our future to come.

For more information, please visit PowerofCanada.ca.

Debbi

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