“What have you done for me lately?”
Chambers of commerce across Ontario have a long-standing challenge in letting local businesses know all the benefits of being part of their local chamber.
“Of course I joined the local chamber; it’s just what businesses do.”
While the support is appreciated, this simply isn’t enough anymore. Chambers of commerce need to offer a business case – a value proposition – of what they offer and ways for business owners to showcase their work and engage in what’s going on in the local business community.
The Lindsay and District Chamber has been the voice of local business since 1958. With so many issues confronting businesses in our rural communities, today more than ever we’re stronger together. In fact, we have 30 per cent more members compared to where we were last year, a five-year high.
Membership really does have its privileges. The Lindsay chamber has many concrete benefits for local businesses. In addition to social media promotion, regular networking events and discounted group insurance, the chamber has recently partnered with the City of Kawartha Lakes to provide tourism information services. In answering visitors’ questions, the chamber is now uniquely-positioned to refer local products, services and attractions to tourists year-round. Your chamber has also been enhancing its focus on member-driven services and business-issue advocacy.
So far this year, your chamber has lobbied the minister of energy on hydro rates for small businesses, began to plan a workshop for members to prepare for the arrival of the long-rumoured Wal-Mart in Lindsay, and made our members’ opinions heard regard the incoming changes to Ontario’s employment laws, including the increased minimum wage.
Our chamber also continues to move beyond holding events to offering skills-based workshops in response to listening to what our members tell us they need. In response to member demand, the chamber has offered a local workshop on diversity and inclusion. The training comes with a window sticker for businesses to show “everyone welcome” and will be promoted in cities outside area to show people our demonstrated commitment to welcoming everyone to our area to shop, dine, play, work and live.
In addition to it being the right thing to do, our local Members have told us they recognize diversity as the way of the future for growing their customer bases. Our chamber is also offering a Master Class Coffee Series. Spend an hour each Monday morning before work learning about and discussing topics ranging from “managing Millennials” to solving “really, really, really” hard problems. You can also learn how to maximize employee retention to discovering the secret life of grant funding for small businesses.
Your chamber is also collaborating with the Bobcaygeon, Fenelon and Norland/Coboconk chambers. Together, we supported the Rural Transportation Summit held in Fenelon Falls this spring and may be jointly leading on the possibility of bringing a shopping bus so that people will be able to shop in stores across our area one day a week.
Our Chambers also came together to visit Magna International in Newmarket to learn about what industries are looking for when deciding where to open new plants; having an available local, skilled labour force is the key.
Another exciting initiative is our chamber’s plan to help local youth create a network for young professional in our area to provide mutual support and colleague-building to help keep them here. More on this soon.
There is a lot going on as we move ahead. Your chamber is committed to listening to you and offering advocacy and services that reflect your business’ needs, including building our local economy both in Lindsay and in the Kawartha Lakes. We are based on the philosophy that when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. We strive to be forward thinking and lead by empowering our members.
Come work with us at this exciting time. Make your voice heard. Share your expertise. Build your business. Engage your chamber! Call Colleen at 705-324-2393 to be part of the action.