Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce Accredited

Chair's Message


Good morning, everyone and thank you for taking the time to be with us this morning!

First, I want to thank Gail and the staff at the Chamber of Commerce for your continued dedication in supporting the members of the Chamber, and more importantly, the entire business community of B-Kent. To the members of the Board of Directors and all the volunteers that support the Chamber, thank you for everything you do to ensure we can continue to be the voice of business in Chatham-Kent. I think we all can agree that we are tired of doing zoom meetings, and I am looking forward to the opportunity this year to be able to finally meet some of the newer Board members in person. But most importantly, I want to thank the members of the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce: we would not be here today without your support.

As I started preparing for today, I looked back at the meeting that we had a year ago and I have to say this feels a lot like the movie Groundhog Day. Last year at this time we were looking forward to things getting back to normal and being able to host networking events and award galas. None of us at the time dreamt that we had another year of lockdowns, partial re-openings, home schooling, etc.

We realize the sacrifices that businesses have had to make during the last two years and as we emerge from the pandemic, everyone in Chatham-Kent needs to continue supporting our local businesses to ensure they continue to thrive into the future. We all know that local businesses are the organizations that sponsor our youth sports teams, community programs, festivals, and basically everything that makes Chatham-Kent the great community we call home. But more importantly, when you shop local, you are not only supporting local businesses, but you are creating value for everyone in Chatham-Kent. Statistics show that for every $1.00 spent in a local business, almost $7.00 is created within the community. As the numbers show, when you purchase products from local stores, not only is that money staying within our community, but it supports our families and friends. Now that life is slowly returning to normal, it’s time for everyone to go out and support your favourite stores and restaurants, but also to discover new businesses that have opened in the last two years. We all know the value of people shopping locally and as businesses we need to ensure our customers know we appreciate their business by providing them with customer service that they could never receive through a website.

When I look back at the success the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce has had over the last 12 months, one common theme stands out: advocacy and collaboration. Last year I was honored to be the Chair of the Government Affairs Committee and our focus was to strengthen our relationship with the Chatham-Kent Economic Development Department. Today I am happy to say that we are now holding regular meetings with the EcDev Management team and over the next 12 months, we will continue to find ways to collaborate with EcDev to ensure everyone is working together to make Chatham-Kent the place to do business.

Last week, the Chamber and our members held a round table meeting with our local Member of Parliament, Dave Epp. During this meeting we discussed issues ranging from employee attraction, border issues, the sky-rocketing cost of housing and energy. The common theme in the meeting was how all stakeholders can work together to build a stronger economy and community. What made this round table so successful were the issues and concerns local business owners shared during the meeting. I look forward to continuing to host round table meetings with all levels of government in the up-coming year.

When I think about collaboration, two examples really stand out: the Rapid Test Screening program and the Shop Local campaign. These initiatives illustrate the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce commitment to supporting all businesses and communities in Chatham-Kent. Partnering with other local Chamber of Commerce and the Municipality, 395 businesses are currently participating in the Rapid Test Screening program and over 46,000 tests have been distributed to date. But the best example of collaboration over the last 12 months is the Shop Local Campaign! The success of this campaign can be attributed to working partnerships that the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce formed with fellow Chambers in Ridgetown, Tilbury, Wallaceburg, along with all the BIAs in Chatham-Kent. This campaign has not only benefited local retail businesses, but also local newspapers and radio stations throughout Chatham-Kent. In addition, 25 videos profiling small businesses in Chatham-Kent, citizens and vested partners in our community have been developed. The Rapid Test and Shop Local Campaigns are perfect examples of what we can achieve when people and organizations collaborate to benefit everyone in Chatham-Kent.

When I look back two years ago, we were all sitting in one room together and Pete was taking over as the Chair. By the end of March 2020, we were all locked in our houses and leaving to get groceries seemed like we were risking our lives. None of us thought a 2-week lock-down would turn into 2 years! And like all businesses, our Chamber had to quickly adjust to meet the needs of our members. In the early days of the pandemic, Gail and her staff did an excellent job pushing out information regarding government funding programs to our members. Instead of hosting network events at our office, our team was handing out Rapid Test kits to ensure all businesses in Chatham-Kent could continue to operate as safely as possible. This is a perfect example of how our Chamber can adapt to meet the needs of our business community.

As I transition into my new role as chair of the Board of Directors, I want to thank Tracey for her leadership during the last year and I want to continue building on the success the Chamber has had over the last year. As we transition back to normal life, my number one goal this year is to be able to meet our members in person at our business after-hours events, golf tournaments and galas. It’s time for everyone to have a little fun again! But I also want to continue developing the Chamber’s relationships with all stakeholders in Chatham-Kent so that we can continue to collaborate, with the goal of making Chatham-Kent the place to do business!
Before I close, I want to again thank all our members for your continued support and involvement with the Chamber. We are honoured to be the Voice of Business in Chatham-Kent!
Thank you to the Board of Directors for allowing me the honour of being this year’s chair and thank you to everyone taking the time out for your business today.

Daniel Josling

Welcome to our newest members!