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. (more…)

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

Change Always Comes Bearing Gifts

Ours is an organization that is inherently in flux due to our communities being in transition, yearly election of board members, changes in office staff, and the varying levels of involvement and participation of members. Change helps us grow and reveals our strengths and opportunities. It is essential that we check in periodically to ensure we are heading in a direction that continues to provide value to our members.

We recently undertook a strategic planning session that served to reinforce some of our assumptions and challenged others. The first step was to develop a vision and mission for our organization that our board and staff can hold up as a test or guide when considering future activities. We then established four strategic priorities and continue to develop specific items within those categories. We also agreed on activities that we need to stop doing.

The process was useful to help us re-focus on who we represent and to whom we hold ourselves accountable. I am pleased to say the plan has already been very useful to me and to our board as we move away from the provision of visitor services and look towards using our organizational resources in the highest service of our members.

Going forward you will see evidence of our belief that a healthy business community is essential to a healthy community. We will continue to work to see the Saanich Peninsula recognized and respected as the best place to do business. But first and foremost, you will see us supporting, promoting, and advocating for member-businesses on the Saanich Peninsula.

Denny Warner,

Executive Director, Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

Congratulations to our Crystal Award Winners!

Congratulations go out to all our Crystal Award Winners!
This year’s turnout was exceptional and we are happy to present you with the Winners below:

Business of the Year (1-15 Employees)
Coastal Heat Pumps
Business of the Year (16+ Employees)
Seastar Chemicals
Contribution to the Community
Bayshore Home Health
Employer of the Year
Peninsula Co-Op
Entrepreneurial Spirit
Fresh View Events
Green Business of the Year
Level Ground Trading
Lifetime Achievement
Reg Mooney
New Business
Seaside Cabinetry
New Product or Service
EMCS Industries
Newsmaker of the Year
Sidney Gateway Project
Not for Profit Organization of the Year
Growing Young Farmer
Outstanding Customer Service
Bistro Suisse

We would also like to thank our sponsors for their support and participation.

Island SavingsUniversity of Victoria Co-Operative Education Program and Career ServicesHughesman MorrisCamosunSteelhead LNG

 

greenpartydevineNuttycake PhotographyWCGTimes Colonist

 

Business Examiner VictoriaVictoria Airport AuthorityToday's BC LiberalsPeninsula News ReviewPeninsula CO-OP

 

Taking a Stand against Public Incivility

I was disturbed by the dearth of civility I witnessed at the public hearing hosted in September by Town of Sidney Mayor and Council to address the rezoning of the proposed Gateway site. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the behaviour of many in the crowd was not different than what one witnesses during Question Period in the House of Commons or on national TV shows or in the comment sections online.

We are a rude and disrespectful society labouring under warped ideas of what free speech actually means. It doesn’t mean that we avoid the consequences of our speech or that we tolerate all forms of discussion. Free speech means that we have the right to say what we like without the government imposing punishments. It is possible to disagree, even stridently, and not lose our sense of civility. As poet and writer Mary Wortley Montagu has said “Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.”

We have to hold ourselves and each other to higher standards. At the local level, we can do so by developing our capacity for constructive participation. If we tolerate disrespectful language and actions, we risk shutting citizens out from participating in the democratic process. It is important that we develop a framework for governing communities in participatory, deliberative, inclusive and collaborative ways.

 

The National League of Cities Center for Research & Innovation developed an action guide for city leaders entitled “Beyond Civility, From Public Engagement to Problem Solving”. In it, the authors identify seven principles for doing democratic governance right including 1) Model civility 2) Sharpen skills 3) Create opportunities for informed engagement 4) Support a culture of community involvement 5) Make the most of technology 6) Include everybody and 7) Make it last.

 

We are enthusiastically supportive of the problem-solving strategies offered by the NLC action guide. The Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce has organized a facilitated, participant-led discussion of the issues arising from the proposed Gateway project with our members and Omicron principals. We will continue to initiate constructive discussions on local issues and build the capacity in this community for active, effective, participation as an antidote to the troubling form of public “engagement” we saw at the September public hearing.

 

Denny Warner,

Executive Director

Opportunity Abounds

The reports of the demise of Sidney’s downtown as a result of mall development on the Saanich Peninsula are greatly exaggerated. Why I say that with confidence is because downtown Sidney presently embodies the most important elements of a healthy and prosperous community. Sidney is definitely a changing community, but positively, as living and work spaces are being developed in keeping with a vision that considers how people want to live, engendering a strong sense of place.

Downtown Sidney-by-the-Sea is distinctive from other areas on the Peninsula, indeed from others on Vancouver Island. It is a destination because of its picturesque waterfront area. It is a compact, safe, multifunctional, pedestrian-friendly community, with an interesting mix of businesses. Consideration has been given to the aesthetics and to creating spaces for people to gather and linger. The environmental and natural settings are attractive to residents and create a community where neighbours converse while taking leisurely walks down Beacon and along the seaside waterfront walkway. It also makes Sidney a choice location for day-trippers.

This is very different from the purpose of a mall – a place where people make objective-based shopping decisions. These shoppers want to be in and out quickly and that means creating sizeable parking areas. A mall meets specific needs for shoppers but it cannot compete with the sense of place, of belonging, people seek in a community.

I don’t believe we want downtown Sidney to be good at being a parking lot for shoppers. The Gateway and Sandown developments will create greater economic activity on the Saanich Peninsula and will not necessarily threaten the vibrancy of downtown Sidney if we work together to maximize this opportunity.

 

Denny Warner, Executive Director

Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce