Building Bridges Between Institutions – Part 3

Employers report that new workers entering the workforce often do not have the skills required to fulfill the terms of their employment. In addition, much of the existing workforce requires retraining to update their skills so companies can continue to compete in the changing economy. Educational institutions and local employers would benefit from a closer working relationship. We are pleased to participate in organizing is the EduTech trade show, scheduled for the fall, which will do exactly that – provide a direct link between Peninsula employers, educators and students. Research proves that the higher educated a population is, the more attractive a community will be to potential new businesses. We have tremendous educational assets in our region and we would do well to highlight them in our promotion and marketing of the area.

It is also important we examine the extent to which current legislation at the federal and provincial levels impacts how easily business can be conducted in this area. We could look at improving access to capital funding, creating tax structures that are fair and competitive and building transportation systems that move people easily. At the local level, municipalities can support growth by means of flexible zoning bylaws and approval processes that are streamlined, less complicated and swift. Regional development goals could be further supported if zoning and approvals processes across the municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula were more closely aligned. Government at all levels, as well as organizations such as ours, play a central role in fostering an environment of entrepreneurialism that creates the solid footing for economic stability.

Businesses consider the assets of a region when making important investment decisions. When you consider your own movement throughout the area, it becomes clear that none of us live, work, shop, socialize, and play in one municipality. If we, as community institutions, don’t recognize the benefit of working and acting as a region, there is a risk we are not considering the same issues that people or businesses do when making location decisions and we might therefore not present compelling evidence for them to choose this place.

Denny Warner,
Executive Director

2017 Crystal Awards Nomination

Award Criteria by Category
  • Business of the Year Award: 1 - 15 Employees

    Applicants in this category must demonstrate:

    1. Continuing business success through:
      • growth (can be revenue/sales, profits, employees, products/services, customer base)
      • employee satisfaction and retention
    2. Exceptional customer service by continuously striving to exceed customer expectations, and by delivering high standards of service with creativity and innovation.
    3. An on-going commitment to quality through employee motivation, quality processes, employee education and management involvement.
  • Business of the Year Award: 16+ Employees

    Applicants in this category must demonstrate:

    1. Continuing business success through:
      • growth (can be revenue/sales, profits, employees, products/services, customer base)
      • employee satisfaction and retention
    1. Exceptional customer service by continuously striving to exceed customer expectations, and by delivering high standards of service with creativity and innovation.
    2. An on-going commitment to quality through employee motivation, quality processes, employee education and management involvement.
  • Not-for-Profit Organization of the Year

    Applicants in this category must demonstrate:

    1. The organization’s commitment to its clients
    2. How the organization has contributed to the community
    3. How the organization supports employee growth and development and contributes to their well-being, satisfaction and motivation
    4. How the organization motivates, rewards and recognizes its volunteers
  • Contribution to the Community Award

    Applicants in this category must demonstrate:

    1. How the business has ‘given back’ to the community through corporate sponsorship (i.e. cash donations, contributions of services, goods or materials, in-kind).
    2. The types of events the business has supported over the past year (i.e. community activities, festivals, events, sporting events or teams, cultural events, social initiatives)
    3. How the business provides mentorship and leadership in encouraging and facilitating community pride and spirit amongst staff while both at work and away from the work environment.
  • Green Business of the Year Award

    Applicants in this category must demonstrate:

    1. A long-term commitment to environmental sustainability through leadership and the integration of environmentally responsible practices into culture of their business
    2. Key “green” projects that have been implemented in the business and how they have been tracked and measured
    3. How the company engages stakeholders and/or clients and/or the community in activities that support environmental sustainability.
  • Green Business of the Year Award

    Applicants in this category must demonstrate:

    1. A long-term commitment to environmental sustainability through leadership and the integration of environmentally responsible practices into culture of their business
    2. Key “green” projects that have been implemented in the business and how they have been tracked and measured
    3. How the company engages stakeholders and/or clients and/or the community in activities that support environmental sustainability.
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

    Applicants in this category must demonstrate:

    1. Personal efforts to establish or expand the business
    2. An innovative product or a valuable new service, or one which has adapted and improved a current product or service to keep pace with the times and the needs of its clients
    3. A commitment to continuous improvement and growth
  • New Business Award

    Applicants in this category must demonstrate:

    1. Being in business for two years or less
    2. Significant growth and a plan for continued growth
    3. A commitment to providing a high quality product or service
    4. Excellent customer service
  • Employer of the Year Award

    Applicants in this category must demonstrate:

    1. A workplace culture reflecting the importance of work/life balance
    2. A commitment to providing a healthy and safe work environment
    3. A commitment to providing on-going training and/or professional development opportunities
    4. A positive workplace culture encouraging respect and engaged employees
  • New Product or Service (Existing Business) Award

    Applicants in this category must demonstrate:

    1. The development or introduction of a new product or service between January and December 2015
    2. The innovative nature of the new product or service
    3. The usefulness of the new product or service
    4. The actual or potential benefit of the new product or service
  • Outstanding Customer Service Award

    Applicants in this category must demonstrate:

    1. How their customer service strategy contributes to an exceptional customer experience with positive reviews or recognition
    2. How their customer service strategy encourages customer loyalty
    3. How their customer service strategy has resulted in a more motivated and engaged staff
    4. How their customer service strategy has improved operational excellence

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It Takes a Region to Raise an Economy – Part 2 of 3

Last month I discussed the strategy of growing the economy by attracting more people to live in an area and suggested the most desirable groups to target based on their ability and willingness to contribute to the overall health of a community are baby boomers, entrepreneurial immigrants and millennials. Now we will look at how the quality of place matters in attracting newcomers.

In this new economy, the jobs and employers are locating where the talent is and talented people are choosing to live in what are described as “quality places”. There are many components of a quality place and each community will have its own unique identifiers. Broadly speaking, knowledge workers looking to relocate seek the following in a community: a focus on green initiatives and sustainable growth, an excellent transportation system, cultural, educational, and recreational opportunities, a high level of community engagement, a growing economy, access to medical health professionals, locally-grown food, and safety.

No single municipality embodies all the components of a quality place but regions often can and do. People move to regions with little regard for, or awareness of, artificial geographic boundaries.  It is the sum of the parts of the municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula, and easy access to Victoria and all it offers, that makes this area attractive to talented newcomers.

There is a thriving world-wide movement called Placemaking which begins with citizens working together to improve their local environment. Placemaking is committed to “strengthening the connection between people and the places they share. Placemaking refers to a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value. More than just promoting better urban design, placemaking facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution” (Project for Public Spaces).

The placemaking process is an important strategy for attracting talented people and growing the economy in a region. We would do well to consider the flow of people and funds on the Saanich Peninsula and how investment in any one of our three municipalities benefits the entire region. The largest structural barriers faced by placemakers in Canada are comprised of regulations, bylaws and siloed municipalities.  The Saanich Peninsula could be an exceptional “quality place” if we could ditch the old model that has served to isolate municipalities in the region and instead institute a framework that is participatory and collaborative.

Next month: Building Bridges between Institutions

Denny Warner,

Executive Director

Economic Growth through Population Growth Part I in a series

There was a significant shift between the old and new economies that occurred between the 1990’s and 2000’s. The old economy is filled with success stories of companies whose road to prosperity began initially by identifying an inexpensive place to do business in a community with preferential zoning and taxation policies and ideally, an established industrial park. People followed the jobs. Manufacturing businesses, largely dependent upon fossil fuels, were responsible for much of the economic growth.

The new economy is very much focused on knowledge and ideas. Today’s labour force is all about making strategic life choices beginning with identifying an appealing location and once in place, securing or creating work. These educated people seek recreational and cultural amenities in a clean, green location. The businesses that will succeed in this new economy are those using or developing high quality information-communications technology. These companies are energy smart and have programs in place that ensure management and staff are constantly learning and adapting. These businesses will be able to attract the new economy workers. New businesses will choose to locate where there is an educated pool of talent. This means in order to attract new businesses, we need first to attract the knowledge workers.

What has changed in this economic transition is the extent to which the strategies local governments used in the past to attract businesses are no longer effective. Attracting people to live in our area is one of the most basic and important economic development strategies. It shouldn’t be that difficult given all our natural assets but how practically do we do it?

First we need to decide who best to target. There are groups of people who are more likely to contribute to a local economy than are others. Those who are newly retired have savings and a lifetime of skills. Entrepreneur Immigrants, such as those who have registered in the BC PNP program, are important to a growing economy. Often these immigrants are well-educated and have already been vetted for their financial capacity to invest in the community. Finally, in this new economy where innovation and adaptability is required, it is advisable to consider how we can attract and retain educated youth.

Next month: It Takes a Region to Raise an Economy

Denny Warner,
Executive Director

Cheers to our Volunteers

In honour of National Volunteer Week which was celebrated the last week of April, I wish to acknowledge our new Board of Directors:

Doug Walker, President (Cambium Leadership)
Gordon Benn, Vice President (Pearlman Lindholm)
Sheila Henn, Treasurer (Paterson Henn Chartered Professional Accountants)
Tara Keeping, Secretary (Tiger Lily Events)
John Treleaven, Past President (The Treleaven Consulting Group)
Dan Adair, Director (Island Savings, a division of First West Credit Union)
James Bogusz, Director (Victoria Airport Authority)
Andrew Bradley, Director (Itty Bitty Sign Shop)
Art Finlayson, Director (Finlayson Bonet Architecture)
Richard Flader, Director (Flader Chartered Accountant)
Joe Jansen, Director (Wilson’s Transportation)
Reg Mooney, Director (Penta Resources Group/Lifetime Member)
Doug Wedman, Director (Chamber of Commerce Group Insurance Plan)

At our AGM, in addition to welcoming new directors, we also said goodbye to three special people: Ginny Alger (Horizon Power) who had been a board member for more than 20 years and former Presidents Craig Norris (Victoria International Marina) and Ian Brown (Tower Kitchens and Millwork) retired from their board positions.

It is estimated that there are more than 12.7 million volunteers in Canada. Our organization has benefited from many generous people who have served as board members and others who have counselled visitors in our Information Centre. Without our volunteers’ generous gifts of time and expertise, we would not be able to operate – the positive impact on our organization cannot be overstated. We are fortunate on the Saanich Peninsula to have a large cadre of dedicated volunteers and the economic benefit to our community is considerable.

Perhaps less well recognized are the benefits of volunteering derived by the actual volunteers. Volunteering provides opportunities to make new friends and contacts and increase your social skills. It has been shown that volunteering has significant benefits to people’s overall psychological well-being. It can relieve stress, boost your self-confidence and endorphins and provide a sense of purpose. Volunteering can also have positive effects for those looking to advance their career. You might meet people who offer valuable advice or who introduce you to an exciting employment opportunity. You could learn useful new skills and build upon the skills you already have. Volunteering can be a great strategy for meeting new friends with whom you share interests. You might discover a new passion. It can be a very fulfilling, rewarding, enriching experience.

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”

― H. Jackson Brown Jr.


Denny Warner,
Executive Director, Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

Shut Up and Listen!

Many years ago I had the privilege to work on a community economic development project with Ernesto Sirolli. Lessons from that project and from his book Ripples from the Zambezi: Passion Entrepreneurship and the Rebirth of Local Economies, have long resonated. His lifelong passion for empowering entrepreneurs is inspirational and instructional when considering how we provide aid or assistance to countries or to people in our own communities.

A new generation of entrepreneurs is dying of solitude and our job is to figure out where they are and how to support them. They will appear if they can be assured of confidentiality and privacy and if they know their supporters will be fanatical about finding ways to help them. The supporter’s role is never to initiate or motivate rather, to act as a servant to the entrepreneur’s passion, the Family Doctor of Enterprise, if you will.

There has never been even one successful company started by just one person. You can think of a business enterprise as a three-legged stool: the first leg is your product or service, the second leg is marketing and the third leg is financial management. There has never been an entrepreneur born who could successfully make their product, sell their product and look after the money. Yet, if even one of these legs is not well supported, your stool will topple, your business will fail. That is why the most successful entrepreneurs are those who assemble a team to ensure each of these activities is well managed.

Ernesto’s vision of community economic development employs an Enterprise Facilitator (supported by a Project Management Board and trained volunteers) who meets entrepreneurs in informal settings such as their homes, in coffee shops, in pubs and restaurants and on benches by the waterfront. The Facilitator’s role is to act as the dedicated buddy for entrepreneurs. The first job of the buddy is to shut up and listen. And listen some more. Only when the Facilitator has a good understanding of the entrepreneur’s vision and has been infected by their passion will s/he begin to ask questions like “What do you need? Can you make it? Can you sell it? Can you look after the money?” When gaps in knowledge and ability have been identified, the Facilitator will offer to find people and resources to support the entrepreneur and the other legs of the stool will begin to be assembled. This kind of responsive, person-centred approach to economic development has had striking results in more than 300 communities around the world.

I encourage you to read the book I referenced earlier and to watch Ernesto Sirolli’s TED Talk entitled “Want to Help Someone? Shut Up and Listen!” If you are interested in seeing this vision realized in our community, let me know. I would love to work with you to bring the dreams of local entrepreneurs to life.
“The future of every community lies in capturing the passion, energy and imagination of its own people.” -Dr Ernesto Sirolli

Denny Warner,
Executive Director

The Importance of Community Relations

We wrapped up another successful Tour of Industry at the end of January. The Tour is important for many reasons, one of which is because it strengthens the relationship between businesses and the community.

The business/community relationship is not one-sided. The most obvious benefit for the community is that businesses create jobs. The business and employee tax revenue funds essential government programs such as health, education and infrastructure. We would not enjoy a healthy community absent thriving businesses. The kinds of businesses that locate in our area help establish our community identity and sense of place.

It is difficult to measure the ROI of community investment but businesses that expend their time and financial resources for this purpose stand to reap many benefits when they make it a core focus of their overall business philosophy. Companies who have made this investment report the networking has assisted them to find new markets, customers, and potential investors, they have had an easier time attracting employees and retention rates are higher, their customers view them as being more trustworthy, honest and stable and they experience increased familiarity with their brand. Perhaps most importantly, over time, this investment will increase revenue. With respect to the businesses on the Saanich Peninsula operating internationally, your community members may not be purchasing your product but they will be interested in your opinions, perspectives and expertise and you will benefit from community feedback and support. Competitors can imitate your product or service but they cannot replicate your community.

How can you invest in your community? I have a few suggestions: take out or renew your Chamber membership, sponsor an event, establish an employee volunteer program, participate in our Tour of Industry, nominate your business for a Crystal Award for Business Excellence, support a local charity or share your expertise with new entrepreneurs. Being a good community member is not something that can be done sporadically but rather is something that needs to be done consistently and visibly.

Denny Warner,

Executive Director

Submit Your Questions For the Mayors Breakfast

We are looking for your questions to be asked at the Saanich Peninsula Mayors  Breakfast. The Event is held on March 2nd, 2017 starting 7:30 am  at the Oceans Cafe inside the Institute of Ocean Sciences.

What would you like to hear the Mayors talk about?


Embracing Diversity of Opinion

An investment in your local Chamber of Commerce is an investment in your own prosperity, as a businessperson and as a member of the community. Our role is to promote business, monitor all levels of government and champion managed growth in the economy.

As the voice of business, we mobilize like-minded individuals who, together, work to cultivate a community with a healthy, diversified, economy. The events and activities we undertake are a means to achieve that end.

On occasion, we take a position that is unpopular with some of our members. Organizations can experience paralysis and overload when they try to be all things to all people. We, at this Chamber, would rather be seen to be being proactive than to be doing little by attempting only those activities where we had consensus. And so, while it is never comfortable to have members unhappy with our choices, we trust that our purposes remain aligned and we will continue working together to see the Peninsula become the very best place to live, work, and play.

One duty we take very seriously is to continue stimulating passionate discourse on the Saanich Peninsula!

Denny Warner,

Executive Director

Be it Resolved

Tis the season for considering the successes and challenges of the past year while making plans for the New Year. In the spirit of making resolutions, we offer some straightforward suggestions for optimizing your financial health in 2017 by making good use of your Chamber benefits. We would rather you didn’t feel the same way about your Chamber membership as you do about that unused gym pass.

  • Take advantage of the opportunities we offer to market your business. The more you interact with us, the better informed and able we are to promote your business on your behalf.


  • Attend our events. You are your brand and the more others in the community see you, the more likely they are to remember you when making purchasing decisions.


  • When attending events, use the time wisely. Create connections and relationships rather than contacts or business prospects. It doesn’t have to be a painful process. Be curious and learn about a couple of people at each event.


  • Use your time strategically. All chamber members are important but some have more potential to you than others. Maximize your networking time by connecting with and fostering relationships with those members who are more likely to be prospective clients.


  • Consider how you can contribute to the success of other members or to the organization. When you act as a resource, you will be perceived as having more credibility and competency. Think about how you can bring value to the membership and give yourself the opportunity to showcase your talents and skills.


  • Leverage your profile in the community through sponsoring a chamber event. Bring a potential member to the events you attend so they and you can benefit from our growing network. Advertise on our website. Have your customers leave reviews on your online directory listing.


  • Finally, consider taking on a leadership role as a committee or board member. This will connect you with others who share your values. It provides an opportunity for others to see you as an authority, to garner respect and to have some fun. It’s true. We have fun.

A little motivation to get you started:  no matter how slowly you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch. Let us help you make next year your best year.

Denny Warner,

Executive Director