This is the last Voice of Business page for 2019 and the end of the year is a good time as any for reflection. Over the year our ultimate goal is to serve our members by developing and implementing programs, making connections and growing a supportive business community to meet our vision statement of strengthening business.
Influence. Profile. Knowledge.
The Power Hour receiving a national award
New ways to showcase our members (ChamberAM, LoveLocalPtbo Campaign, and I’m Here Campaign)
Influence. Profile. Knowledge.
Everyone and every organization has a value proposition. At the Peterborough Chamber we completed a lot of work to streamline ours, which is to give your business influence, profile, and knowledge.
Influence means we are committed to helping create the conditions for growth and to improving the competitiveness of the Peterborough business community through our lobby efforts at every level of government.
One example of influence from 2019 is a successful policy resolution we worked on with Chamber member Park Place Financial asking for the same tax rate for the sale of a business to a family member as for the sale of a business to a third party.
Profile speaks to how we can help you build your brand and find new partnerships and
collaborations through our online directory, social media channels, marketing and advertising, sponsorship and events.
Knowledge is how we can help improve your business fundamentals, attract employees, and adapt to new technologies through reliable and relevant information, quality training and targeted programs.
These three words are reinforced through our website, branding, banners, and membership guide.
The Power Hour
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce won the annual Canadian Chamber of Commerce Competition at their Annual General Meeting in Saint John, New Brunswick on Saturday, September 21, 2019.
Each year the competition is focused on a different aspect of the Chamber operation, this year the competition was titled “Influence in Action - Advocacy through Events”, with an emphasis on events that create profile for the fundamental advocacy work of the Chamber Network. The Peterborough Chamber’s annual Power Hour event was chosen as the 1st Place Winner by some 300 delegates from across Canada. The Power Hour is an annual event bringing together the business community and our elected officials.
Attendees hear from our elected officials at all four levels of government - the MP for
Peterborough-Kawartha, the MPP for Peterborough-Kawartha, the Warden for the County of Peterborough, and the Mayor for the City of Peterborough. Also invited as guests are the elected councils for the City and County of Peterborough, First Nations Chiefs and the City and County CAOs.
The event features a Q&A session, moderated by Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Policy Analyst, Sandra Dueck, with questions provided by the audience. The questions and the discussion further inform the advocacy direction for the Chamber moving forward.
The Peterborough Chamber has been named as one of three finalists on four occasions in this competition, for membership initiatives, our use of video, the creation of the Kawartha Choice brand, and the Power Hour. Kawartha Choice received the National Award as the best Community Initiative in 2005.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the staff and volunteers of the Chamber”, said President and CEO, Stuart Harrison, “to have the opportunity to not only showcase our Chamber at the national level, but to be judged the best, is truly an honour.”
Showcasing our Members
Our members do it all … and we want to showcase the many ways they do business, and community. There are a couple of ways we formalize this idea:
The purpose of the yearly #LoveLocalPtbo campaign is simple - we want to celebrate and support businesses and organizations operating in Peterborough. Our local
businesses create jobs, support local charities, and contribute to the unique nature of our community. In Peterborough, the business community represents about 30% of the tax bill. This is tens of millions of dollars that goes directly back into our community!
In the I’m Here Campaign we are celebrating all the businesses within the Chamber of Commerce family. When looking for shops and services, people ask us for a Chamber member. It's where we go, you should too. This campaign highlights our members through pictures and uses our social media network to get the word out about a business.
After 25 years, the Chamber revamped its breakfast networking event from the
Breakfast Club to ChamberAM. The ChamberAM networking event offers members and
attendees an exciting talk on a topic intrinsic to business.
Speakers are also recorded and interviewed and that interview is then passed on and shared through our social media networks. All of this to showcase as many members as possible and reach as many members as possible.
If you read last week’s column you’ll know I ended by saying that the policy issues we deal with and write about is one way we support our mission. Providing opportunities for our members to share their knowledge and increase their profile is another way we strengthen business and strengthen community.
In any given year through the weekly Voice of Business article the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce pens or publishes some 26,000 words on advocacy-related business issues. 2019 was no exception. This year was dominated by budgets at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels of government, election platforms, policy resolutions, updates on policy councils of the Ontario and Canadian Chambers of Commerce, and more.
“The core value of the Chamber of Commerce lies in the strength of our voice,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “As a member-based organization we speak for over 900 local businesses who all share a common mission, the creation and maintenance of a strong business eco-system. From hyper-local to national issues, we pride ourselves on the evidence-based, solution-focused advocacy work we do on behalf of our members.”
We are going to take this week and next to recap some of the highlights from 2019 and provide any updates.
High Frequency Rail (HFR) Project – VIA Rail
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has been a strong proponent for the HFR project for over a decade. We were pleased to host Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef and VIA Rail in June of 2019 to announce the next steps in the project. The federal government committed $71 million to create a project team that would complete several important engineering and design studies required before any construction could start. In late November, VIA Rail launched a dedicated HFR website identifying the project as one of three major pillars of their future planning. It was also announced that the project team lead had been hired and was starting to set up the office and build the team. In mid-December, the new federal mandate letters were released and the Transportation Minister has been tasked with working “with the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities to create high frequency rail for the Toronto-Quebec City Corridor”.
We have been consistent in our messaging about the importance of the HFR project to the
Peterborough region. In our 2019 pre-budget letter to our MP, this project remains a top priority for several reasons: the economic benefits it will bring during construction and beyond, the ability to more efficiently connect our residents to the world and the world to us, along with the inherent environmental benefits of the project, such as reducing car trips.
Recently we celebrated full opening of the 407 to the 35/115. This opening was the result of multiple governments at multiple levels. At the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, we played a part in this achievement for if there was ever a story that explained the advocacy process this would be it:
From Chamber President & CEO Stuart Harrison: "16 years ago (2004), I attended my first Ontario Chamber of Commerce AGM in Thunder Bay. One of the Policy Resolutions up for approval was from the Oshawa Chamber, recommending that the provincial government extend Hwy 407 to Harmony Road. We (Stuart and then-Board Chair Dan Stanford) introduced an amendment to the motion changing the wording from Harmony Road to Hwy 35/115. Over the subsequent years we never missed a chance to slide that policy resolution (PR) across the desk of every Transportation Minister, every MPP, everyone we could. Because it was an approved PR, it carried the weight of the entire business community across the province. Full credit to Jeff Leal, who championed the full extension of the Highway his entire time in office, a succession of city and county councillors, mayors, and more."
This road link is a piece of infrastructure that will help open up our economy and our region to new opportunities. It is not the only solution, but one of many to help us move our goods and people to and from Peterborough.
Investing in Building Community
Community building was very much a top of mind topic this past year and there was a great deal of dialogue on how that can be done. When it comes to getting projects built there can be a variety of challenges, especially for not-for-profit organizations. With that in mind and an idea from Chamber Member Paul
Bennett of Ashburnham Realty we authored a policy resolution that was approved by the Canadian business community in September at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting in Saint John, New Brunswick.
The policy resolution titled “Investing in Building Community” presents the following recommendations to our federal government:
All of these topics and issues are directly related to our vision statement, which is strengthening business. And the best part is that by strengthening business we are also able to help strengthen our community.
As the 43rd parliament begins its new mandate, and ministers are settling into their portfolios, we take the time to put forward the business case for Canada.
After the December 5th Throne Speech, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce released the following statement: “We have consistently advocated a focus on economic growth as a critical mechanism of national unity, one that can only be successful if it works for all Canadians in every part of the country.
The business community understands that the Speech from the Throne is meant to be a high-level overview of the government’s plans. We will be looking for much greater detail in the ministerial mandate
letters about how the government proposes to address Canada’s numerous economic challenges.
The Canadian Chamber will also be looking for greater detail on how the government plans to engage and work with Canada’s entrepreneurs and job creators to shore up our rapidly declining competitiveness. Accordingly, we call on the government to make all ministerial mandate letters public.
Finally, we ask all members of the House, regardless of party, to support a serious effort to develop a national economic strategy. The 200,000 businesses the Canadian Chamber represents stand ready to do our part by creating jobs and making important investments, but we need the 43rd Parliament to be a willing partner to Canadian businesses.”
The Canadian Chamber also sent the federal government a “Road Map to Prosperity: Minority
Parliament Guide to Economic Growth”. The document highlights platform commitments from the federal election, including two Liberal commitments that could have great impact on rural communities such as ours. These commitments are a Municipal Nominee Program that would allow communities to address specific workforce needs and a program to help Red Seal apprentices get the work experience to finish their
With Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef now the Minister for Rural Economic Development along with continuing as the Minister for Women and Gender Equality, there is an opportunity to have direct conversations about the impact such ideas would have on rural areas.
Broadband access is also an important topic for business. Access increases opportunities and competitiveness, allows businesses to stay and thrive in smaller communities while reaching world markets. Both the Canadian and Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) emphasize that public funding for broadband should be “targeted, coordinated, and streamlined” so that private investment in broadband can work with the public funding available to achieve the goals.
The OCC report, Business Priorities for the Incoming Federal Government, also suggests “adapting federal business supports to the realities of small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).” This includes the high cost of regulatory compliance and administrative requirements to apply to federal programs. The report identifies that these hurdles may be the reason that government programs are not used to the fullest.
Another area the Chamber Network along with the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is interested in
seeing a reduction in is regulatory barriers between provinces and territories. According to the OCC these barriers cost the Canadian economy between $50 and $130 billion per year and include limits on labour mobility through occupational licensing standards and prohibitions on the free movement of goods.
Other topics include a pharmacare program that fills in the gaps for Canadians, labour market information and creating circular economies to help reduce waste and improve how businesses use their resources.
Whether it’s in the CCC’s Road Map document or the OCC’s Business Priorities for the Incoming Federal Government, the reports recognize the need to reach all Canadians, find common ground and work
together to grow Canada’s economy.