CHAMBER NEWSLETTER APRIL 2016

Welcome to Spring 2016! March was one of our busiest months, bringing in the official start to spring, families off enjoying March break and hosting our Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards Banquet.

What an incredible honour for us to host and celebrate the achievements in our community. With many worthy nominees for this year’s awards it was a tremendous challenge to choose only one award recipient for each category. It was clear to all in attendance the Awards evening provided a glimpse into the obsessed work and dedication to business, charity and community that each Award winner contributes to. Thank you, once again, on behalf of the CK Chamber to Jacklyn Janssen (Youth Entrepreneur), Jeff McFadden (Young Entrepreneur/Professional), Mike & Sue Korpan (Entrepreneurs), Kent & Essex Mutual Insurance (Business of the Year), Dajcor Aluminum (Industry), Erieau Marina Ltd (Corporate Citizen) and Jennifer Wilson (Citizen)for making our community stronger and healthier through your business and efforts operating in Chatham- Kent. And, thank you, to our key sponsors - TD Canada Trust, TVCogeco, Scotiabank, Community Futures Development Corporation of Chatham-Kent, RBC Royal Bank, Union Gas, OLG and Apollo Property Management for continuing in supporting this showcase event, recognizing some of Chatham-Kent’s best! And, to our many florals sponsors, thank you for helping us add the touch of celebratory atmosphere to a great evening.

In sharing the Chair’s message last month, I was fortunate to receive a lot of your feedback. In many ways it gave me time to reflect on the passion existing in CK and reinforces the importance of the message I strived to make. Some comments were strongly opinioned, many in support of the message; others reflected a continued struggle and the frustration of our community and employers equally. While the AGM message I gave echoed the necessity to improve Chatham-Kent’s education statistics, the underlying narrative remains a call to action for everyone to work in partnership and demands personal accountability. Building a new economy or creating new industry in Chatham- Kent will require our collective passion. But, we need the skilled and capable workforce to fill those “Next Gen” jobs. Chatham-Kent can be a new model for educational excellence! If we choose to be. Building an education infrastructure and engaging students through creative and innovative learning will be a mammoth task. However, with focus, coordinated and purposeful direction, together we can inspire more diverse learning and training programs. And make them available right here at home at our St. Clair College and University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus.

The world is quickly becoming an “On-Demand” economy. Digital disruption is everywhere; it is influencing people in ways never imagined or intended. We are at an interesting intersection; cloud computing along with digital mobility puts a computer in the pocket of everyone with a smart phone. Fundamentally it has changed the way businesses are created, operated and managed. “Functionality” and “User Interface” have become the new terminology of what defines “Customer Service” in today’s work space. Technology, as an enabler, will be the proving ground to unlock resources that can lead us back to viable economic prosperity. It’s this seismic shift in our economic landscape that continues to force change at an unprecedented pace. It not only forces traditional business models to evolve and adapt, it demands the labour force to evolve and adapt also. Not since the industrial revolution of 1760 have we experienced such a giant leap forward.

Perhaps that is the point! Perhaps, Chatham-Kent hasn’t yet caught up to the “On Demand” reality and the speed of what employment requires today.

Is the type of work available in Chatham-Kent meaningful and fulfilling?

I’ve heard my share of rhetoric regarding competitive wage in Chatham-Kent recently. Yes, there are abundantly available statistics to support the statement of disposable income being higher in Chatham-Kent, after all, we are a community that enjoys, on average, a lower cost of living. However, I do not fully buy-in to that as an acceptable tradeoff. Minimum wage, at its heart of intention, was designed to set a standard “At Minimum” what one should expect to earn based on skills to complete a required job. It should never be the standards of measure to financially support a thriving family or a viable community. Minimal Skill = Minimum Wage.

I continue to look forward to your comments and thoughts, so, find us on Facebook & Twitter.

Your Chair,
Christopher June