Insightful Conversation & Good Food at

September Virtual Luncheon 2020

Thank you to Derek Vallee of Alta Gas for the updates from RIPET as well as for their luncheon sponsorship. As well to Paul Minhas from the Sunset Lounge & Grill for the provision of lunch via vouchers for attendees.

This was the Chamber’s first virtual luncheon platform, which we hope to evolve into a live/virtual event as we move through the pandemic this fall. It was well attended and there was great engagement from the attendees.

We at the Chamber appreciate your support.

Presidential Message for 2020/2021

Working in a the unprecedented time of a pandemic

Like many of you, the Pandemic knocked me sideways on many levels. As a community citizen, business owner, organization leader and consumer I have taken much of the past 6 months to pause and reflect, I mean really reflect, on how I can better support my community.

As we were forced in to a simpler life of home, work and family at the beginning of the pandemic; foregoing meals out, excess spending, and no travel, I know I found myself reflecting on my spending, savings and preparedness habits. I also really reflected on whether I had done enough prior to this crisis to personally to support the businesses in my own backyard.

As things began to open back up, I made a concerted effort to buy from local and unique storefronts here and in other North West communities. I also resumed some travel when it became appropriate and had 2 amazing get-aways within BC. One of them being visiting a BC destination that I had not had the pleasure of previously. The travel and reflection truly gave me a greater appreciation for the town, region and province and realize how we can do much better in terms of support and advocacy for each other.

This pandemic crisis also exposed gaps: Business Continuity Plans; Insurance; Cash Flow & Reserves; and Reliance on outside forces. It highlighted for me the need to prepare our own financial houses to weather storms larger than we could have ever foreseen. It also showcased essential and near recession proof industries & services, and challenged others such as hospitality, tourism, and personal services.

While the pandemic exposed weaknesses in our local and regional economies, it also exposed our strengths. Notably resilience, innovation and collaboration. As we continue to move through reopening and recovery we need to continue the focus on strengthening our local products, services and customer bases, essentially recession and crisis proofing ourselves. We must continue to celebrate successes and learning through each other needs to continue. While we will always continue to be reliant on global access to products and services, especially as a major Port City, now more than ever we also need to ensure our own local economies are better protected and sustained.

Chamber Presidential Outlook for up ahead: Supporting Our Local Economy

I have shared with my Board that my focus for this term as your President is to begin a dialogue with local stakeholders, businesses, community leaders and consumers with conversations focused on the creation of a framework for a sustainable local and regional economy. One that creates a true understanding of the impacts of the power of local purchasing & procurement as it relates to business survival, non-profit sector support and the enhancement of the overall well-being of our citizens.

In my research of this topic thus far, this means, among other things: Supporting and advocating for inclusive, sustainable economic growth through ensuring, as consumers, that we understand the impact of our spending decisions. Thereby, creating a community that understands the power of their economic activity as it relates to its success.

The question I have top of mind right now is “Does local business focus need to shift our consumers mindset, or as consumers, do we need to shift ours?”

A more local, and sustainable economy could look like, Experiences (concerts, sports), Travel & Tourism (local & lifestyle specific pursuits), Higher-Quality Consumer Products (higher-quality, well-designed, multi-purpose, quality-crafted local items vs mass produced elsewhere) becoming more desired and purchased.

In its simplest form, being a more thoughtful and engaged consumer, as well as holding each other accountable to doing our part.

The pandemic has also flipped the script for many of the country’s local chambers of commerce. While many typically think of their local chamber as mainly a networking group, their real work is to promote, advocate and lobby on behalf of local businesses. This takes different forms depending on the state of the economy and community needs, which has now rapidly changed during the pandemic. The pandemic hasn’t just put stress on the longevity of local businesses, but on the chambers of commerce that serve them because we rely mainly on membership dues and fundraising activities to be able to provide our services. While we are looking at ways to be cognizant of the struggles of some members of our business community, we also require the ongoing support of our membership and sponsors. For us to be able to continue our mission to support, connect and advocate for our business community & to continue to be a leader and champion for an inclusive, resilient and informed business community we need engagement and support from you.

Thank you for your continued support of the Chamber and each other. We are all stronger together and I look forward to continuing to serve this community during this unprecedented time.

Be well, Michelle