Last Thursday night, the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce held its 122nd Annual General meeting. It is truly amazing the longevity of this organization and the continued relevance that it has maintained through out the past century plus twenty-three years. It predates the Incorporation of the City of North Bay, by almost 20 years.
I can only imagine the challenges that the first group of businesses were dealing with, when they decided to group together and form the first organization, so many years ago. When you look back at what the village of North Bay was like in 1894, it was rough. But for many immigrants, it was a chance for a better life. I can remember my grandmother Lily Chirico telling us what it was like here in the early 1900’s saying “the good old days…they weren’t that good. They were hard”.
Those business people who had the vision and sense to form the Chamber before automobiles were common place, no electricity, paved roads, running water and the such, knew that together they were stronger. They had the foresight to know, that as an organization of business people, that business was the driver of success and prosperity for the people that called North Bay home. Looking back, I for one am grateful to them.
Flash forward to 2017. The North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce is stronger than ever and looking forward to the next 122 years. Although so much has changed in the past 122 years, from my point of view, everything is relative. This City and its business community have survived two world wars, the Great Depression, countless economic downturns and issues that are probably more common place than we care to think.
The Board of Directors of the Chamber are in the midst of completing a new strategic plan. This plan will set the direction of the Chamber for the next number of years and will act as a road map for this organization through those years. It is important for not only our organization, but for any group to look back at their history and see what that past has taught.
More likely than not, those first members of the Chamber didn’t look at the future with trepidation but rather, embraced the opportunities that were presenting themselves. With every problem that faces us, there is the corresponding opportunity that goes along with it. If our ancestors hadn’t worked together to grow this community and take advantage of those opportunities, we probably wouldn’t be enjoying the type of lifestyle we have today. Lessons learned!
Peter Chirico is the President & CEO of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce.