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From the Desk of the CEO Jill Raycroft

What a week!  Hometown Hockey was a smashing success with hundreds of people walking downtown both Saturday and Sunday! By all accounts, the soups from Savour the Chill were fantastic (congrats to member Earl & Angelo’s for their first place soup) and everyone was very happy with all the activities provided between the Hometown site and the Armouries (thank you Hasty Ps). We will continue trying to thank everyone involved – this was a massive exercise that involved multiple city departments & staff, business and land owners, sports teams, non-profit associations, volunteers and of course, the people that came downtown to support the event. I can attest to the work that Susan, Rosi and Matt put in from the Chamber side of things and they deserve a great deal of credit for coordinating the efforts of everyone else. My sole responsibility seems to be managing the weather; thankfully, we had two amazing days in a row that didn’t deter anyone from braving the chill in the air. Find some links below to some of the photos and articles posted about the event (in case you missed it).

And, on Monday morning, I was on a train with our Government Affairs Co-Chair, Greg Sudds to participate in the third annual “Advocacy Day” at Queen’s Park. This is a gathering of Ontario Chambers of Commerce (and Boards of Trade) where we have the opportunity to share the concerns of local business needs at a provincial level. I was assigned to a session with the Minister of Infrastructure and the PC critic where members from across Ontario lamented the ongoing issues with internet accessibility. We all know there is an issue in the north with connectivity, but it was interesting to hear that the pockets of underserviced areas (as we are just north of the city) are common across the province. Current technology (fibre) may not be the answer to this problem and the costs are enormous; here’s hoping some of the money allocated in the federal budget for research and technology is applied to seeking new approaches to accessing the information super-highway.

Advocacy Day was then followed by a two-day conference with the Chamber Executives of Ontario in Mississauga. This is a gathering of Chamber management staff and a great opportunity to hear of the successes and challenges experienced by other chambers. I attended this event last year (before I’d even started working for you) and it was great to return this year – aware of the role and able to contribute to the conversations around the table. We also had a couple of great speakers – Doug Griffiths, author of 13 Ways to Kill Your Community offered two engaging sessions which offered each of us renewed inspiration and of course, the obligation that change begins with the person who sees the need for change. I also had the honour of sitting on a panel to discuss “elections” and the role the Chambers play in informing voters through candidate debates and other forums. Finally, I wanted to give a quick shout out to Tyjondah Marshall Kerr – from OLG, a sponsor of the conference – who gets (and reads) our Chamber Chat weekly! It was great to meet you in person!