Last week, a shortened work week, after a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend, started out as a good week however, changed quickly as Tuesday progressed.  The announcement by Sears Canada to apply for approval to liquidate all its remaining stores and sell assets, confirmed the closure of the North Bay store.  Approximately 85-part time workers would be facing an uncertain future as soon as the announcement was made.

The loss of these jobs at any time is in itself, cause for concern but this comes at a time when our local economy has certainly taken more than its fair share of hits.  Retail shopping habits have changed considerably over the past two decades and will no doubt continue to change.  Any one that remembers the seventies and the proliferation of shopping malls which changed Main Streets everywhere, it is all coming full circle.  On line shopping, Power Centres, and niche market specialty stores are taking their toll on the former retail giants.

The comments made by the Northgate Shopping Centre management, in regard to the closure, expressed optimism that redevelopment of this space into multiple stores is an opportunity for them.  For those workers that will be out of work due to the closure, that is positive news.  The naysayers out there will no doubt have an opinion on this, but we don’t have a choice.  Things happen that is out of our control and will continue to.

One thing that we can count on as we move forward is that things are going to continue to evolve and yes, change.  And, we are going to have to change and adapt to that ever-changing landscape.  Over the past six months since my arrival at the Chamber, I have been fortunate to be able to speak with many of our business community, politicians and citizens regarding our local and district economies.  I have heard that the challenges are many but opportunities also go hand in hand with those same challenges.

If our mining sector manufacturers had not adapted to their market realities and sought out global markets from right here in North Bay, they would not be here today and employing a significant segment of our local population.   Our local retail sector continues to adapt and change as well, expanding into other regions and seeking out new markets that complement their operations.

As we celebrate “Business Week” at the Chamber this week, thank you to our business community, owners and employees alike, for what you do and what you contribute to our district.  For details on events – click HERE.

Peter Chirico is the President and CEO of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce.