The conversation is changing.  Past conversations regarding economic growth and prosperity have centered on “how do we survive?” during tough economic times.  Those discussions will not and have not created jobs, but rather maintained or even perhaps resulted in status quo thinking and actions.

Over the past ten months, your Chamber has been consulting and discussing with many of its members, that exact conversation.   Many of those who we have consulted with are of the same mind, change must happen if we are to move forward and expand our district and area.  All of our area municipalities are strained when it comes to maintaining existing services, without increasing costs.  The simple answer to this problem is straightforward, you can’t. We must grow.

Many of our members have used descriptive words such as innovation, competition, expansion, and inclusion.  These descriptors were commonalities when asked about, what we need to do, if we are to grow our way out of many of our problems.  One such person that is putting his words into action, has been Mike Campigotto, a North Bay born and raised successful, retired entreprenuer.  The Nugget article in Saturday’s edition, profiled Mike and Karen Strang and highlighted an event being held on Tuesday at St. Joseph’s Scollard Hall auditorium, “Ignite North Bay”.

This will be the second event of this type and the Chamber of Commerce encourages anyone that is interested in changing the way we as a community thinks and acts, should attend.  This is how the conversation changes.  This will be one of the strategies that we as a district will have to embrace, in order to encourage growth, expansion and prosperity.  One of the mantra’s that Mike has put forward, has been “How might we?”.  A very simple statement but certainly one that encourages change.

Last week, the writer had the opportunity to hear author and community mentor, Doug Griffiths speak at an event.  His book “13 Ways to Kill a Community” is a must read for anyone concerned with the direction of their respective communities.  He talks about reversing attitudes around responsibility, competition and technological changes that all communities face.  Some of the best points in his book centre around attitudes when it comes to change.  He sites various acronyms such as CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything), BANANA people (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone).

I have added one that can be inserted in any of them ETC persons (Except Their Causes).  The humour in Mr. Griffiths’ presentation was effective but also points to many of our issues that relate to the title of his book.  These types of attitudes can be pervasive and detrimental to communities.  That is where the conversation has to change and we have to listen.  Come out on Tuesday @ 6:30 p.m. and look at the future entrepreneurs and see the passion that they bring to where they want to live, work and play and what that community of the future can be.

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