Free Enterprise Awards Nominations Open Now

FreeEnterprise

If you know of a business or individual enjoying local business success, we want to know too!  Until March 31, the Chamber welcomes nominations for the 2015 Free Enterprise Awards. There are 3 nomination categories focusing on long-term and short-term success in business and community service.  For details on nominating a business, organization or individual just click here to view or download the nomination guidelines.

The 2015 Free Enterprise Awards will be presented in the Free Enterprise Reception on Wednesday May 13 at St. Anne’s Centre in St. Thomas, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.


Annual MP & MPP Luncheon

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The date and place are set.  In a format similar to our luncheon with local Mayors on February 18, the Chamber will host federal Member of Parliament Joe Preston and our Member of Provincial Parliament, Jeff Yurek, in an event at St. Anne’s Centre on Thursday April 9, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  
Tickets may be ordered from the Chamber office.  Advance sale only.  $32 per person includes a buffet lunch served 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.  Our speakers open the business part of our agenda with remarks, followed by an open question & answer session.
Preferred, reserved seating is offered on single orders of four tickets or more.  Call the Chamber office and speak with any staff member to order – 519-631-1981.

This event is made possible through the sponsorship of Catering by James Meadows; Dowler-Karn Ltd. and Phil Mauer & Associates, Inc.

 


5 Minutes for Business

 

In this edition of 5 Minutes for Business, Hendrik Brakel, our Senior Director, Economic, Financial and Tax Policy, looks at Europe to examine the risks and challenges ahead for those economies and what it all means for Canadian business. Collectively, the European Union is Canada’s second largest trading partner, and the world’s largest market with a $17 trillion economy, more than 20% of the global GDP.
Media coverage of the EU has been focused on fears of another economic crisis. Indeed, GDP growth remains weak, unemployment is still high and there are tough challenges ahead. Greece undoubtedly needs debt relief, which will be a big political problem, but the overall European outlook is improving. The crisis forced governments to undertake much-needed reforms, from more flexible labour markets to improved regulation. At the same time, the European Central Bank is providing a tonne of liquidity, €60 billion per month, to support bank lending and lower interest rates.  The EU economy has shown resiliency and today, even the troubled economies of Southern Europe are returning to growth. The road to recovery will continue to be bumpy, but if businesses can look ahead to the long term, they will see enormous opportunities.

Read 5 Minutes for Business.

For more information, please contact Hendrik Brakel.


Ireland, Spring 2015

 

 

Our next group tour opportunity is an incredible 9-day tour of southern Ireland departing Wednesday May 13, 2015.

As with our previous tour groups to China, this trip is offered jointly by the St. Thomas & District Chamber and the Strathroy & District Chamber. The tour is open to anyone and can be used for business or pleasure. Chamber Members (plus retirees, immediate family, & volunteers) get a discount of $200 per person thanks to their Chamber membership.  $2945 is the Member price, including all taxes, 4 & 5-star hotels (plus a night at Dromoland Castle!), return air, shuttle to/from St. Thomas to Toronto, several meals, a cruise on the river Shannon, admission to attractions, and much more.  Our 2015 Ireland tour will visit 4 areas around Dublin, Limerick, Kilkenny and Galway.

Click here for a link to our complete itinerary and tour guide.

Last Call to Book: Elgin Travel & Cruises is our exclusive local Chamber travel agent for this tour.  Call or visit their Elgin Mall office at 519-633-6300 for all details and bookings. A $400 deposit secures your seat.  Payment in full must be complete by Friday February 20.

 


The Benefits Our Members Can Get… a quick look

Information overload is something we all share and, here at the Chamber, we understand. And that’s why we’ve assembled a quick checklist for Members to see and consider the growing number of benefits, discounts and services that come with Chamber membership.

The information below is a quick summary. By all means, if you see a program or product you’d like more information on, the Chamber staff are eager and able to respond from our office or to put you in-touch with program agents and reps.

First, let’s be clear on who can participate in Chamber programs and services, or take advantage of significant price advantages we offer across the entire Chamber network.

It’s easy:  Once a business or organization joins the Chamber, all of the personnel in that business or organization can get involved, attend or participate. In some cases, as explained below, our opportunities extend to retirees and immediate family members. You can check another section here on our website for additional details, too.  Go to  the “Membership” tab above this article and below our logo here on our main page. Under that tab is a section called “Membership Benefits”.

Fuel discounts – Our national program with Esso (and Exxon / Mobil in the US) earns you savings of 3.5 cents per litre at any of over 1,000 Esso outlets anywhere in Canada and 18,000 Exxon or Mobil stations in the states.  It’s free to enroll.  Register as an organization for multiple vehicles in a fleet or as an individual. Contact Esso sales at 1-888-330-2419 or EssoSales@fleetlink.com to apply.

UPS Courier discount – Our newest addition to our Benefits Bundle connects you with the largest courier and shipping company in the world.  Save 30% on courier shipments to Canada, the US and worldwide destinations. Additional savings on imports, customs brokerage fees & more. 75% savings on heavyweight freight, full load or LTL.  No charge to enroll. No minimums. No maximums.  Call 1-800-MEMBERS (636-2377) M-F, 8 a.m. to 6 p.mn. or visit www.membersbenefitprogram.com/stdcc

Credit Card/Debit Card processing – Our Chamber Merchant Services program is managed by First Data Canada and not directly connected to any bank so you can choose where your account is locally.  Full range of on-line, mobile and point-of-sale processing equipment.  Monthly account fee just $5.  VISA rate is 1.55%, MasterCard, 1.60%, Interac debit, just 5 cents per transaction. Amex, Discover and other card rates – just ask. New: Mobile Debit for your Smartphone!  www.ChamberMerchantServices.ca for more. Follow us on Twitter for the latest deals & news @ChamberMerchant

Insurance – personal Group Plan – The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce has been a strong supporter of our national Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan since it started in 1974.  Life insurance, health, drug, dental, disability, critical illness, travel and more. Ours is the #1 group insurance plan for small business in Canada. Our local licensed agent is Jeff Crossett at ARC Financial. 519-637-0181, Ext. 204, or you can explore our Group Plan through our national website: www.chamberplan.ca

Insurance – property & vehicle Group Plan – Cars, trucks, boats, motorbikes, homes, cottages and more.  The savings we achieve by pooling Chamber Members together as a group can be phenomenal.  Novex Group is our insurer.  Our local licensed professional agent is Reith & Associates.  Call 519-631-3862 or go online to www.ReithandAssociates.com and click on the Chamber logo.  Their website will prove our savings and compare our plan with others!

Data Backup & Recovery – the most critical part of any business or organization is the data in your computer systems. Secure cloud-based protection is available to all Members at a 15% discount through Quantum RBS. Hardware failures, theft, flood, fire or any type of disaster could cripple your operation. Quantum RBS takes away the worry and the grief.  Details at 519-633-8903 or email sales@qrbs.ca


Moving Forward Together

An Employer Perspective on the Design of Skills Training Programs in Ontario

Our latest report via The Ontario Chamber of Commerce presents the business perspective on the steps the Government of Ontario should take as it evolves the province’s suite of training and employment services.

By encouraging businesses to invest more in their employees, these new employer-driven programs could be an important step toward improving Ontario’s economic competitiveness. But they will only succeed if they are designed with the needs of employers in mind.


Ontario Budget Summary

Spending, deficit, and debt are going up.

This budget increases government spending by $3 billion, from $127 billion in 2013-14 to $130 billion in 2014-15.

The deficit will grow from $11.3 billion to $12.5 billion over the same period. Meanwhile, Ontario’s overall debt will grow to $289.3 billion by end of 2014-15 and $317.2 billion by the end 2016-17. The province’s debt-to-GDP ratio will grow to an alarming 40.3 percent in 2014-15.
Servicing the debt will cost $11 billion in 2014-15, approximately $3 billion more than government spends on colleges and universities.

The budget includes an annual program review savings target of $250 million for 2014-15 and $500 million for each of the subsequent two years.

Our Analysis…

Ontario requires a robust plan to reduce spending and tackle the debt. Controlling spending in an effort to reduce the deficit and debt is a top priority for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce network and the number one means by which Ontario can guarantee its long-term prosperity.
This budget falls short on the pace of deficit and debt reduction. The annual program review targets are too modest. For the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s vision for a smarter, more efficient government, see Unlocking the Public Service Economy in Ontario.


Deadline was July 1

Have your workers completed the training? It’s a must for all employers.

You’ve probably heard about the new health and safety awareness training that’s been mandated by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour. You probably have questions about whether or not it applies to your business and, if it does, what you can do to get started.

The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce recently sought a clarification from Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS), on behalf of our Members.  According to John Aird, Manager, Industry & Partner Relations at WSPS, “All businesses are expected to comply with the legislation irrespective of size and whether they pay into WSIB or not. There is no exemption. But it doesn’t have to be onerous. The Ministry has created resources that are available on its website to help businesses of all sizes be in compliance.”

The date you’re expected to be in compliance has passed:  July 1, 2014. Employers must ensure that all workers and supervisors have completed a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program that meets the requirements set out in the new regulation.  It’s not a difficult thing to complete, and requires about 45 – 60 minutes to do online, via the link below.

What training has been approved: Employers can develop their own or use existing training, so long as it meets requirements outlined in the regulation, or they can use a suite of tools provided at no cost by the Ministry, available online in multiple formats and multiple languages (see below). The awareness training will help employers meet existing obligations, not impose new ones.

What the Ministry’s suite of products looks like

You’ll find the Ministry’s poster, worker and supervisor workbook, employer guide and e-Learning modules available for download at http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/training. The worker and employer guides are also available in Chinese, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Print versions are available at no cost by calling Service Ontario at 1 877 202 0008.


Pension Reform?

An Employer Perspective on Fixing Ontario’s Pension Problem

Our latest paper finds Ontario’s employers want a pension system that supports our long-term competitiveness, targets groups that require additional pension support, and builds on the province’s status as a global leader in financial services. Weighed against these and other objectives, employers are firmly in favour of Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs). They are much less supportive of enhancing government-managed pension programs. Learn more…

 

 


Beneath The Surface

Our latest report reveals that Ontario’s Ring of Fire, the mineral resource-rich region in the James Bay Lowlands, will generate up to $9.4 billion in new economic activity over the first 10 years of operation and sustain 5,500 jobs annually in Ontario.The report, Beneath the Surface: Uncovering the Economic Potential of Ontario’s Ring of Fire, makes it clear that the short-and long-term economic impacts of the Ring of Fire will be shared across the province.

According to our study, the mining development could generate more than $25 billion across numerous sectors in Ontario by 2047, including $2.7 billion in revenues for the financial services sector and $1.2 billion for the wholesale and retail trade sectors.

Based on extensive analysis and consultation, our report also outlines the key challenges that stand in the way of the development of the Ring of Fire and a 13-step action plan to overcome them.

Read the report

Read coverage in the Toronto Star


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