A Roadmap For Business Success

A Roadmap For Business Success is the Oakville Chamber of Commerce’s advocacy priorities. 

We have worked hard to identify what are the most pressing issues for our members.  Through member surveys, one on one meetings and roundtables we have identified four key issues that our advocacy efforts are focused on with all levels of Government:

  1. Business Competitiveness

  2. Recruiting and Retaining Talent

  3. Transportation

  4. Innovation


Budget 2020 – Oakville Chamber calls on the Town to develop a strategy for urban mobility, prioritize infrastructure investments, and extend the parking incentives in Downtown Oakville

On November 19th the Town of Oakville launched their proposed 2020 Operating and Capital Budgets to the Budget Committee.

The Oakville Chamber’s submission focused on member’s concerns regarding the importance of supporting the growth of the existing business community, while remaining competitive against other jurisdictions when it comes to property taxes, development charges, and industrial land sale values.

Moreover, as the Town continues to grow and intensify, we urged Council to prioritize infrastructure investment for the movement of people and goods and services.  Projects such as the Wyecroft Road Bridge and the Grade Separations of Burloak and Kerr will assist in alleviating congestion and improving safety.  However, the Chamber also encouraged Council to make the improvements to MidTown a priority by accelerating the planning and design for the Royal Windsor Interchange as well as working with the Ministry of Transportation on this crucial transportation network.

The Chamber has been pleased to support many initiatives brought forward by the Town’s Economic Development department in an endeavor to strengthen our local economy.  According to the Town’s 2018 Economic Update, initiatives such as the new Brownfields Community Improvement Plan and the Economic Development Strategy have facilitated growth for the Town.  In fact, in 2018 new operations brought more than 1,600 new jobs while existing companies welcomed more than 560,000 square feet of new commercial and industrial development.[1]

That’s why, we need to continue to support our business community that is the lifeblood of our Town. Oakville’s non-residential tax base represents 13.02 per cent of the total assessment base and contributes 18.24 per cent of all town taxes levied. In 2018, this amounted to $34.6 million in tax revenue collected.[2]  However, the financial contribution from the business community is further exceeded by the creation of jobs, the spending of funds locally as well as the contribution of companies giving back to the community.

This underscores the importance of the Town remaining innovative and progressive in its effort to remain Canada’s best place to live.  As our communities become more “connected” through the collection of data, artificial intelligence and technology, it is vital that we are prepared for the business climate of the future.  To that end, the Chamber is encouraging the Town to develop a Strategy for Urban Mobility and Transportation Planning.  Moreover, it is crucial that this Strategy is aligned with the Town’s Economic Development Strategy to ensure that the needs of the business community are prioritized.

We must support all businesses in Oakville including those located in our downtown.  Businesses have endured construction and decreased business on Lakeshore Road since April as a result of the downtown streetscape renewal project.  The Chamber strongly urged Council to resolve the impediments of this project and further called on the Town to evaluate the challenges of this downtown project to ensure that future streetscape projects don’t have similar delays and impacts on business. 

Additionally, the Chamber supported the Downtown Mitigation Strategy and encouraged Council to continue to support our downtown core by extending the current parking incentives to January 2021. 

On behalf of the business community, the Oakville Chamber will continue to work with Town Council on budget initiatives that will strengthen the local economy.

[1] Oakville 2018 Economic Update

[2] Oakville 2018 Economic Update


Oakville Chamber Holiday Hours

Please be advised that our office will be closed from noon on Tuesday, December 24th through Wednesday, January 1st. We will resume regular business hours on Thursday, January 2nd.

We wish you all the happiest of holidays!


CSR: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

By Warren Leppik

Warren Leppik is the Chief Storytelling Officer at Cognition Productions, an advocate marketing company in Oakville. More effective than traditional advertising because of the authenticity of real human connections, his proprietary process harnesses the voices and experiences of your company’s customers to drive your marketing, engagement & growth strategies.

Visit www.cognitionproductions.com to learn more.


Over the past few months, I have come across several articles related to the lip-service being paid to Corporate Social Responsibility. This article in Adweek stood out: “A New Survey From The Economist Finds More Executives Talk About Social Good Than Act on It”. According to Marty Swant “48% of respondents said they felt businesses that operate with purpose beyond profit actually end up gaining a “financially competitive advantage” in their markets. However, even more—78%—said companies talk about it more than they invest in long-term initiatives to support it.”

So what’s the problem? Is it really so hard to get involved? Is it complicated? Cost prohibitive? Time intensive? I would like to take an optimistic stance and would hazard a guess that, rather than being intentionally delinquent, it has more to do with figuring out how best to get started becomes just another item on an overloaded agenda. But there are tangible business benefits, and a way to mitigate an underestimated “values-based” faux pas, by ensuring that your corporate social responsibility is more than just a plaque on the lobby wall.

In an article entitled “How to Improve Customer Relationships With Brand Authenticity” author John Turner states, “According to the Consumer Content Report from Stackla, 86 percent of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support. Show, don’t tell. Every company should have a set of values that they stand for. But it’s not enough to just tell consumers what you believe in; you have to show them. Any company can write on its “About Us” page that they believe in giving back to the community. But that doesn’t mean much if your customers and prospects can’t see it in action. If you SAY you put a strong emphasis on giving back to the community, you had better SHOW your customers you mean it by giving back to local charities with donations or offering your time and knowledge to empower others. Brand authenticity will not only make your current customers happier but will also help you attract new customers by making your company stand out from the rest.”

Beyond just doing what you said you were going to do, the ancillary benefits to being a good corporate citizen are many. It brings to mind interviews I did for the United Way of Halton and Hamilton last year about involvement with their Workplace Campaigns. Jarvis Sheridan, Partner at O’Connor MacLeod Hanna LLP believes “We have an enhanced profile because of our involvement with the United Way Workplace Campaign. People respect the fact that we are not just a bunch of money-grubbing lawyers. We are there to feel that our responsibility to the community is being met in very many ways. Because we do have that responsibility. We’re doing OK and we need to give back”.

Finally, in a content marketing world gone mad, with people making up stuff to feed hungry content marketing calendars, what you do in the community becomes a gold mine of authentic feel good stories, proof of your company’s values. Beyond text, you can use video to harness the emotional power of impact stories from people whose lives were changed by the charities you support. The resulting videos build awareness of the need for what the charity does, motivates more people to get involved and shows quite clearly that your Corporate Social Responsibility program is the real deal.

Member Profile: Courtyard by Marriott Burlington

The Courtyard by Marriott Burlington is Halton Region’s newest hotel! The hotel sits on the border of Burlington and Oakville with easy access to the QEW, Highway 407, and within close proximity to Toronto Pearson and Hamilton International Airports. The Courtyard by Marriott Burlington is conveniently located adjacent to the Burlington Convention Centre with a heated and covered walkway surrounded by many corporate offices, and is across the street from the picturesque Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

The upscale hotel features a state-of-the-art lobby with the BISTRO Restaurant & Lounge at the centre of it all – serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails and Starbucks coffee 7 days a week. Guests can also enjoy a well-equipped fitness centre and indoor saltwater pool.


The Courtyard by Marriott Burlington was designed by Adrian Mauro and his team at Chamberlain Architect Services Limited, and developed by Domenic Fuda and his team at TriAxis Construction Limited with the future in mind. Throughout the hotel guests can connect with ample electrical outlets. The “Boarding Pass Station” features a separate computer station dedicated to printing airline information. The hotel has implemented green technology with a guest recycling program and charging stations for electric vehicles.

The Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Burlington caters to corporate guests with 1,800 square feet of meeting space to accommodate functions of up to 120 people. The meeting rooms feature LED TVs, white boards, top-down screens and projectors to meet all your AV needs. Exquisite catering menus are avail-able to suit your needs. For organizations needing more space, the adjacent award-winning Burlington Convention Centre features 20,000 square feet of function space to accommodate up to 1,200 guests.

The hotel has 135 guest rooms, including 10 suites, with hybrid zones for working featuring over 16 power outlets and 7 UsB ports in every guest rooms. All rooms have a light desk on wheels, allowing guests to work from anywhere in their room. each guest room has their own dedicated Wi-Fi router which powers up to 6 devices.

The team at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Burlington is led by Managing Director Frank Vismeg, who has long-term success in the travel and tourism industry – living and working in over 34 countries! Frank is also the President of Skal International Hamilton-Niagara Club, the world’s leading asso-ciation of travel and tourism professionals from over 85 countries. Through his career he has had the pleasure of hosting celebrities Tom Jones and Christopher Plummer, and on the political scene Prime Ministers Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chrétien, and Stephen Harper.

“My strength is relationship building” says Frank, “A typical week in-cludes meetings with community and regional stakeholders who share in making Burlington and Oakville one of the top destinations for tourism and conventions. 

The strength of these relationships was demonstrated at the hotel’s grand opening which included Mayor of Burlington Marianne Meed Ward, Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr, MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos, and Premier of Ontario Doug Ford.

Approaching their one-year anniversary, the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Burl-ington is already attracting loyal customers, and boast a 98% guest satisfaction rating. “The key to the hotel’s success is consistent service quality” said Frank, “A hotel is just 4 walls; it is the people inside that make it run.” Frank said all of his staff have a ‘Yes I Can’ attitude, always going above and beyond to en-sure guests feel welcome and enjoy their stay. They are proud to announce the newest addition to their management team, Ms. Angelica Sanz Rincon – Hotel Manager coming here from the from the Ritz Carlton Resort in Puerto Rico.

Frank sees a bright future for Burlington and Oakville as the Region continues to grow. He is already working on a new hotel with his partners at the Burlington Hotels Group Inc. – stay tuned for the new development!
Select the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Burlington for your next
business meeting contact:

Nicoletta Vella, Director of Sales & Marketing:
nicoletta.vella2@marriott.com

Tarah Markham, Sales & Operations Manager:
tarah.markham@marriott.com

Victoria Howard-Csampely, Sales & Catering Manager:
victoria.howard-csampely@marriott.com

Driving Oakville Forward

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce encourages Town’s Infrastructure Readiness for connected and autonomous vehicle technology

As our communities become more “connected” through the collection of data, artificial intelligence and technology, it is vital that we are prepared for the business climate of the future.  To that end, the Chamber is encouraging the Town to develop a Strategy for Urban Mobility and Transportation Planning.  Moreover, it is crucial that this Strategy is aligned with the Town’s Economic Development Strategy to ensure that the needs of the business community are top priority.

Transportation infrastructure and congestion remains a top concern for the Oakville community. Congestion on Oakville roads is a barrier to business, and members cite that Oakville does not have the road infrastructure for the development it needs. Additionally, Oakville’s economic growth is an important factor in the success of the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA).

According to the Provincial Ministry of Finance, the Greater Toronto Areas (GTA) population is projected to increase from 6.9 million in 2017 to 9.7 million in 2041. Halton is projected to be the fastest-growing census division in Ontario over the projected period, with growth of 56.2 per cent to 2041. [1] 

Similarly, our economy is growing.  Currently, according to the Town’s Draft Economic Development Strategy our local economy supports approximately 116,300 jobs; and between 2013 and 2018, the local economy grew by 9,763 jobs.  However, 64% of residents are commuting to jobs outside of Oakville with most commuting to jobs in Toronto, Mississauga, and Burlington. Oakville is a net importer of labour, with companies attracting a total of 65 per cent of workers from outside of Oakville. This indicates an opportunity to attract the local resident labour market into Oakville employment opportunities. [2]

Increased employment growth, as well as population growth, is positive for our local economy; however it also underlines the Chamber’s call for building a resilient transportation network that works for all modes of transportation to supply the movement of goods and people. 

That’s why the Chamber is calling on the Town to engage with Chamber business and industry leaders.  Oakville is well-positioned in the automated vehicle industry due in large part to the businesses located in Oakville that are leading the way in economic development; such as automotive as well as the information and technology sector, to position itself as an economic development leader around automated and connected vehicle technology.  

Oakville is not alone in needing to explore this space.  Researchers and academics working in the field of connected and autonomous vehicles have strong relationships with their counterparts, paralleled by discussion between provincial and federal governments and information-sharing between municipalities.  It is important that as a community we engage with our local talent as well as reach out to other jurisdictions, including those with similar structures and similar environments.

This underscores the need for the Town to develop a working group of stakeholders.  Working with businesses and a broad set of stakeholders is essential to foster employment and investment growth.  Cross sector collaboration is essential for competitiveness.  This cannot be done in isolation.

Innovation is also key to our communities’ success surrounding the Urban Mobility and Transportation Planning Strategy. The Chamber believes that the strategy needs to incorporate a plan on innovation that includes partnering with the business and tech community, and piloting projects that drive smart city initiatives. 

Finally, the Oakville Chamber strongly encourages the Town to develop a Strategy for Urban Mobility and Transportation Planning that ensures that town policies, programs and activities create an attractive climate for business investment and job creation for economic growth as well as a transportation network that makes the movement of goods and people a priority. 

On behalf of the Chamber members we will look forward to working with the Town on this important initiative and we will be strident in our efforts for results.

[1] Ontario’s Ministry of Finance Population Growth Census Data, June 25, 2018

[2] Town of Oakville, Draft Economic Development Strategy


By Faye Lyons
Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy

Letter to the Town of Oakville: Budget 2020

Dear Mayor Burton and Town Councillors:

On behalf of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce I am pleased to provide comment on the Town’s Budget for 2020. 

The Chamber is pleased to support many initiatives brought forward by the Town’s Economic Development department in an endeavor to strengthen our local economy.  According to the Town’s 2018 Economic Update, initiatives such as the new Brownfields Community Improvement Plan and the Economic Development Strategy have facilitated growth for the Town.  In fact, in 2018 new operations brought more than 1,600 new jobs while existing companies welcomed more than 560,000 square feet of new commercial and industrial development.[1]

An additional 200,000 people, in the next twenty years, coupled with new investment and supporting the growth of the existing business community, underlines the need for Oakville to remain competitive against other jurisdictions when it comes to property taxes, development charges, and industrial land sale values.

Oakville’s non-residential tax base represents 13.02 per cent of the total assessment base and contributes 18.24 per cent of all town taxes levied. In 2018, this amounted to $34.6 million in tax revenue collected.[2]  However, the financial contribution from the business community is further exceeded by the creation of jobs, the spending of funds locally as well as the contribution of companies giving back to the community.

This underscores the importance of the Town remaining innovative and progressive in its effort to remain Canada’s best place to live.  As our communities become more “connected” through the collection of data, artificial intelligence and technology, it is vital that we are prepared for

the business climate of the future.  To that end, the Chamber is encouraging the Town to develop a Strategy for Urban Mobility and Transportation Planning.  Moreover, it is crucial that this Strategy is aligned with the Town’s Economic Development Strategy to ensure that the needs of the business community are prioritized.

Furthermore, as the Town continues to grow and intensify, Council needs to prioritize infrastructure investment for the movement of people and goods and services.  Projects such as the Wyecroft Road Bridge and the Grade Separations of Burloak and Kerr will assist in alleviating congestion and improving safety.  However, the Chamber also encourages Council to make the improvements to MidTown a priority by accelerating the planning and design for the Royal Windsor Interchange as well as working with the Ministry of Transportation on this crucial transportation network.

We must support all businesses in Oakville including those located in our downtown.  As Council is aware, businesses have endured construction and decreased business on Lakeshore Road since April as a result of the downtown streetscape renewal project.  The Chamber strongly urges Council to resolve the impediments of this project.  We call on the Town to evaluate the challenges of this downtown project to ensure that future streetscape projects don’t have similar delays and impacts on business. 

Additionally, the Chamber supported the Downtown Mitigation Strategy and encourages Council to continue to support our downtown core by extending the current parking incentives to January 2021. 

On behalf of the business community, the Oakville Chamber encourages Town Council to support budget initiatives that strengthen the local economy.


Yours Truly,

Drew Redden
President & CEO 
Oakville Chamber of Commerce
——————————————————

[1]Oakville 2018 Economic Update

[2] Oakville 2018 Economic Update


Read as a PDF.



Discover South Africa with the Oakville Chamber

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is heading to South Africa with Indus Travel! 

Tour days: April 20, 2020 to May 2, 2020

Tour summaryBegin your tour with one of the most iconic sights on the continent known as ‘The Smoke that Thunders’, Victoria Falls. Choose an accommodation to suit your style and enjoy a sunset cruise on the beautiful Zambezi River before venturing out to see one of the most spectacular sights in the natural world; the thundering Victoria Falls. 

The South Africa tour gives travellers insight into the history and culture of South Africa. Guests can explore the vibrant city of Johannesburg at their leisure and enjoy a guided tour to the Soweto Township, a cultural melting-pot with a wealth of heritage sites that will fascinate any visitor. Marvel at the awe-inspiring wildlife of Kruger National Park before continuing on to historical, glorious Stellenbosch with its Cape Dutch architecture; it is the warm and wonderful heart of the Cape Wine lands. 

Visit Cape Town, a modern city with a fascinating history that is regularly voted one of the most beautiful cities in the world, enjoy time to stroll along the waterfront, to visit Table Mountain or simply relax and do some last-minute shopping.

Tour Price:
Oakville Chamber Member $5,199 CAD per person
Non-Member $5,349 CAD per person


Airline:
Emirates

Learn more.



How to profit from your employee benefits plan

You wouldn’t normally expect an insurer to keep surpluses in their benefits program but with the Chambers Plan that’s exactly what happens. As a not-for-profit benefits plan, the Chambers Plan reinvests these surpluses back into the program to reduce rates, to continue to add additional benefits and provide high-quality service with ever evolving options.

Small and mid-sized business owners face a lot of uncertainty and they don’t need that to include their employee benefits plan. A local Chambers Plan advisor can help show them why the Chambers Plan is the number one plan for businesses looking for stability in their benefits plan.

Why should this be a concern? Well, first there are inflationary factors that can cause your benefits plans to rise. Next, some group benefits providers will lure businesses in with unsustainable rates, which will be followed by larger premium increases in subsequent years. Many business owners have experienced this roller coaster ride already and we can show you how to avoid that.

Let’s talk first about the low rate trap. Most benefits providers are for-profit entities where logic dictates they need more premium than claims paid out plus the administrative costs to run the plan. In addition, many require funding for their own large claims pool to pay larger claims than normal, typically large drug or out of country claims. Insurers have to provide a return on investment for shareholders. With the Chambers Plan, plan participants are treated like the shareholders with surpluses being reinvested into the pool.

One of the great things about the Chambers Plan is that it allows start-ups or smaller firms to participate fully in the pool if they have 3-9 employees, though some 1 and 2 person firms may also qualify. If they are fully pooled they join the other 35,000 businesses where renewals are based simply on what’s needed to sustain the pool. This keeps their costs predictable until they grow to a size where they can take on additional risk. If they had a bad year for claims due to an employee or employee’s dependent it won’t impact the renewal the way it would with a traditional carrier.

In addition, as they grow they can move into the Chambers Plan’s partially pooled option. With this the firm takes on more risk since a portion of claims will be rated against premiums, and for taking on that risk receive reduced rates. As the Chambers Plan is a not-for-profit program, surpluses go back into your claims and provide a reduction.

What’s also intriguing is that for larger firms with 10-99 employees, the Chambers Plan, as a not-for-profit simply has less overhead. As a pooled, not-for-profit, the plan doesn’t charge reserves (IBNR’s) which can typically eat 8-12% of premiums, and again provide some pooling cost certainty for years where your claims may fluctuate. In addition to this, the plan’s lower than industry average annual inflation.

The plan has always been around with the goal of supporting business with less than 100 employees, providing not only cost certainly but also additional supporting benefits that firms this size may require. All employees also receive the Best Doctors program. This can allow an employee to find access to specialists or get a second opinion on either a diagnosis or course of treatment. The Chambers Plan also provides the BAS, or Business Assistance Service to all plan holders. This service is invaluable to any size enterprise providing HR, Accounting and Legal assistance as part of the underlying program.

The Chambers Plan is also administratively light and easy. Employees can access their own information and make claims or inquiries through the My-Benefits platform. Additionally, claims can be done  simply by taking a picture of the claim and submitting through the phone application with direct deposit right into the employees bank account. A Chambers Plan representative can help train you and your employees on how to use the plan and access the resources available. It has been designed to be very user friendly.

 As a not-for-profit program supported by and supporting local Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade, the benefits continue to evolve based on the needs of the SME marketplace. Needs are in today’s business environment and benefits are evolving to keep up, while also with catering to those still wanting to have more traditional plans. All resources are reinvested with these goals in mind, something unique in the marketplace. 

Why not profit from your benefits investment?
Contact Hynek Financial Group, our local provider of The Chambers Plan for more information.


Statement on the 2019 Federal Election

Congratulations to Anita Anand and Pam Damoff on being elected in the ridings of Oakville and Oakville North-Burlington.

The Oakville Chamber appreciated the level of engagement from all candidates as we had important conversations about the future of the economy and the priorities of business here in Oakville. 

We look forward to continuing those important conversations with Anita Anand and Pam Damoff as we work together to support our local economy and strengthen Oakville’s business competitiveness.

The Oakville Chamber also extends its congratulations to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada on forming a minority government.  

– Drew Redden, President & CEO, Oakville Chamber of Commerce