The North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce hopes that everyone has had a safe and enjoyable Christmas and wishes all a healthy and prosperous New Year.

It is somewhat of a tradition amongst many, that the time between Christmas and New Years, is the time that we reflect on the past year and begin to plan and look forward to the upcoming year.  At the Chamber, we also share in this time of reflection and anticipation of what this year will bring.

Looking back on 2017, the Chamber has seen a substantial amount of change and growth.  We have completed the change over from an operating board, to a true governance style board.  Our move to the downtown is complete and we have settled into our new location, that is home as well to Discovery Routes Trail Organization and Tourism North Bay.  While each has its own mandate and separate boards, it is a great example of how organizations can share and work together under the same roof.

This past year, the Chamber once again partnered with the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board to provide employment opportunities for persons that have been on Ontario Works support programs.  This program, 100 Jobs/Get Trained Workers, has been a tremendous success and since commencing this year, 108 persons have been hired by 74 companies in our district.  Patti Carr, Carol Porter and Sue Adams have worked diligently with Joe Bradbury and his staff at the DNSSAB, to make a difference in our community.

Of the 108 jobs, 55 gained full time employment, 42 part-time and the balance contract employment.  As of December 11, 100 of the 108 employed through this program, are still employed.  Although the caseload for Ontario Works in our district experiences fluctuations, according to DNSSAB staff, we have been advised that the annual caseload, has dropped by approximately 100 cases.  This has been a successful project that has seen the matching of skill sets to employer needs.  This project was described by one of the successful job applicants as a “hand up, rather than a hand-out”.

Rounding out the year, was the vocal outcry by the business community on both the minimum wage increase by the Provincial government and proposed tax reforms by the Federal government.  The North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce together with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, joined together to bring these concerns to both levels of government, on behalf of our businesses.  Some success was garnered, and some fell upon deaf ears, but we will continue to be the voice of business in 2018.

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