UBC OK full dimensions President-Circle-Scroller   
  Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC                                                                          Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC

Welcome to the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce

The Kelowna Chamber is an Accredited Chamber of Commerce with Distinction. This means that we are a chamber that is run in a strategic and professional way and that our operations reflect national standards of business excellence. We work to ensure the Okanagan region will become the most economically prosperous region - and the most desirable place to live and work - in Canada. As the area's leading membership driven business organization, we are committed to providing value to our members.  
 

Events

Get involved & expand your reach with over 60 Chamber events each year! Connect with the Community calendar too!

 

Chamber News

Keep informed with all that’s happening at the Kelowna Chamber!

 

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  • Top 40 Program Grows Up...
    Sep 22, 2016
    Yesterday was the launch of our third-edition of the Top 40 Program presented by BDO, however new this year -  the program will feature Over 40s! That's right, for all of you amazing people that didn't qualify for the Top 40 Under 40 program - this one's for you! Nominate an amazing individual today! 

    Last weekend, our Executive Vice President attended the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM in Regina and voted on many successful resolutions to help benefit business conditions. Both BC-made policies were passed, and each were aimed at boosting Canada's access to major economies. We're calling on government to lower taxes and fees and improve air access in order to make the domestic airline industry more competitive in the global arena; and to advance two international agreements that are pivotal to growing BC's economy. The Canadian Chamber will take those policies forward and be our voice in parliament.

    We also attended three ribbon cuttings this past week at Oxygen Yoga & Fitness in Spall Plaza; Hazmasters in McCurdy Plaza; and the new Trades Complex at OC. Join us at the grand opening of Houle Electric's new location on Lougheed Road on September 29th from 1-5pm - we will cut the ribbon at 3pm! 

    Next Thurdsay is also when we see off our thirty-six Iceland travellers for their eight-day adventure. Stay tuned for photos!
     
    -KCC 
  • 2016 Finalists Announced - Business Excellence Awards
    Sep 13, 2016
    The judges have narrowed down the sixty-two semi-finalists -  and determined that thirty finalists will be honoured at this year's Business Excellence Awards, presented by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP.  

    The annual gala, in its 29th year and emceed by Kelowna's own Andy & TJ, will be held on October 13th at the Delta Grand Okanagan. This year's theme is Fire & Ice, and the community is invited to attend and support these businesses that have gone through the demanding eight-month process.  One business or individual in each of the ten categories will receive the prestigious crystal award, in addition to the 2017 Business Leader of the Year.
     
    The Business Excellence Finalists for 2016:
     
    RISING STAR AWARD

    BNA Eatery & Brewery
    Intraline Canada Inc.
    Stikshen Inc.
     
    Sponsored by: Urban Systems Ltd.
     
    SMALL BUSINESS AWARD (1-15 employees)
     
    Ecoscape Environmental Consultants Ltd.
    Highstreet Ventures
    i-sight Optometry
    Touchstone Law Group LLP
     
    Sponsored by: Prospera Credit Union
     
    MID-SIZE BUSINESS AWARD (16-50 employees)
     
    Associated Property Management
    Diversified Rehabilitation Group
    Venture Academy
     
    Sponsored by: BDO Canada LLP
     
    SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP AWARD

    Two Hat/Community Sift 
    Mamas for Mamas
    Urban Matters CCC
     
    Sponsored by:  Interior Savings Credit Union
     
    YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

    Rachel Clarida, Hatch Interior Design 
    William Walczak, Hiilite
    Ariele Parker, martketer inc.

    Sponsored by: Kelowna International Airport

    SUSTAINABILITY AWARD
     
    Ogo Car Share 
    Evergreen Building Maintenance
    Sponsored by: Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board
     
    DISTINCTION IN HOSPITALITY & TOURISM AWARD

    Gray Monk Estate Winery
    Let's Go Transportation
    The Harvest Golf Club
     
    Sponsored by: Tourism Kelowna
     
    MARKETER OF THE YEAR AWARD

    Csek Creative + Pulse
    Fortune Marketing Inc.
    Hiilite
     
    Sponsored by: Pushor Mitchell LLP
     
    TECHNOLOGY/INNOVATION AWARD
     
    AAA Internet Publishing Inc. (WTFast)
    Cape Communications
    Lighthouse Chiropractic
     
    Sponsored by: UBC Okanagan
     
    LARGE BUSINESS AWARD (51+ employees)
     
    Natures Formulae Health Products Ltd.
    Northside Industries
    Sun-Rype Products Ltd.
     
    Sponsored by: Grant Thornton LLP
     
    BUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR
     
    The recipient of the prestigious Business Leader of the Year award sponsored by MNP LLP will be released in a statement one week preceding the Awards ceremony.
     
    Ticket Prices: Early bird price $105.00 plus GST in effect until 4 pm, September 23rd. Ticket cost will then increase to regular price of $125 plus GST.  Discounts are also available on table purchases. All ticket sales will close at 4 pm Oct. 7.  Click here to reserve your seats for this popular event!
  • Falling for the Economy: A compilation of the experts' forecasts
    Sep 06, 2016
    As September opens, it’s timely to look at the economic predictors for the fall and winter for BC and Kelowna, and for Canada. Much of the data is encouraging for our province. With thanks to our sources, we'll synopsize here what we’ve found most engaging in our economic reading over the past few weeks.

    First of all, the Bank of Canada’s July 13 announcement of maintaining its target overnight rate of 0.5 per cent, its Bank Rate of 0.75 per cent and its deposit rate of 0.25 per cent. Stable. The next rate will be announced within a few days on September 7. The Bank calls our economy “complex” – inflation still below 2 per cent but likely to go back up in 2017. 

    The next number we always look for is GDP (gross domestic product): globally, the projections are down slightly (2.9 per cent in 2016; 3.3 per cent in 2017 and 3.5 per cent in 2018). Causes: a slightly weaker US economy the first half of this year, plus Brexit, equal a bit of re-pricing. Again, the changes are slight, and mostly stable.

    In Canada real GDP grew a bit in the first quarter, and dipped a bit in the second quarter. Drilling down to BC and Alberta GDP, the Alberta wildfires mean negative GDP throughout 2016 for our neighbour, but with an outlook for greater than usual growth in 2017 when the rebuilding efforts really kick in. In BC, again, the forecast is that we will lead the country in 2016 and 2017 in GDP, with our booming domestic economy and our red-hot housing market. Annual gains? In the 3 per cent range.

    Federal infrastructure spending and other March federal budget measures continue to contribute to growth in the last half of 2016 for us here in the Okanagan.

    Oil prices are always worth a monthly scan. Early 2016 predictions included a global rise: however, crude eased to about $45/barrel in August as global supply grew and demand weakened. Continuing slowing in prices is now forecast, according to the International Energy Agency. Weak demand and low prices for natural gas, and uncertainties surrounding major liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects will continue to dampen capital investment.

    Much of the focus in the media this summer has been on housing: new rules, inventory, a seller’s market – we’ve all seen the headlines. At this point, predictions are that “the good times will continue.”  Sales prices continue to rise, and in Kelowna, “Buyers from the Okanagan continue to be the largest purchasing group – 55 to 60 per cent of total buyers average over six years of tracking” according to the President of the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) earlier in August. 

    This comment was of course, in response to the quickly passed legislation taxing offshore buyers purchasing real estate in the lower mainland (15 per cent). The tax has hit immigrating families from the US and Europe, as well as from Asia and has been a headline-grabber nationally throughout August. 

    Chinese demand for all things Canadian remains strong, with new opportunities in agribusiness and tourism. Beijing has boosted the Canadian tourism industry, especially in the last two years. Canadian hospitality and its natural beauty are key draws for Chinese tourists.

    Canada’s multicultural makeup facilitates greater tourism from China: Chinese Canadians are 4.5 per cent of the population (2011 Census) compared to 1.2 per cent for the U.S. This simplifies language and cultural issues, builds on existing connections, decreases prejudice, and facilitates a greater understanding of the spending habits of Chinese tourists.

    Canada even has – despite being further away – a higher proportion of Chinese residents than Australia (4 per cent) – a testament to Canadian openness and cosmopolitanism. This number will be markedly higher for the 2016 census, and these ethno-cultural links, combined with a low Canadian dollar, provide many opportunities to strengthen tourism links. (from Global Risks Insights)

    Could the new 15 per cent tax come to Kelowna and damp down our housing market? It’s possible, says OMREB. More interesting to our local business people are the changing demographics of home buyers: local buyers who will go on to purchase renovation services, appliances, furniture and other home-related products from local businesses.

    Fully 24 per cent of buyers are now single females or single males; another quarter is two-parent families with children; couples (24 per cent) and empty nesters/retirees at 20 per cent.  All good information as local businesses plan their product inventory buying for 2017.

    Finally, there is the labour market, and the export market. Certainly, our staff at the Chamber have been kept busy this summer helping members with their Certificates of Origin for offshore shipments of lumber, produce and wine, particularly fresh cherries. This activity peaks in July and August, and is a service provided free of charge to Chamber members in good standing.  (Certificates cost $75 per document for non-members.)

    As to the labour market, while BC’s labour market continued to generate jobs – again leading Canada in job creation and economic growth – most of that employment growth was in the lower mainland, and in part-time employment.

    Numbers are high, but would be even higher, if it weren’t for the continuing in-migration from other parts of Canada into BC as job seekers seek higher ground.  The Alberta economy continues to impact employment growth in the Okanagan where we were steady/negative at -2.8 per cent.

    As an aside, the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission completed its “professional” business walks in July (they conduct business walks with Chamber participation throughout the year).  Not surprisingly, given our economy this summer, every one of the 57 professional services firms surveyed were happy with their business.

    “Usually with our Business Walk interviews, 80 to 90 per cent of the companies are positive about current conditions and the future,” said Corie Griffiths of the COEDC, which runs the Business Walk program.

    In the third week of August, Manufacturing was the focus of the "Business Walk".  The in-person survey is examining the human resources needs of about 50 manufacturing companies in our region. 

    We’ll close with four highlights from a new forecast from Central 1 Credit Union for BC for the next three years:

    • Strong economic growth will continue through 2018
    • Unemployment rate will decline from the current six per cent to below five per cent by 2018
    • Provincial population will grow as more people move to the West Coast from other provinces
    • International tourism is up due to the low dollar and will continue to grow

    Welcome to fall everyone!
     
    -KCC 
  • Kelowna Businesses Stay Busy in the Summer
    Aug 19, 2016
     It’s been a busier summer so far than we anticipated – it must be human nature to believe that because school is out and the sun is shining – weakly at times, through the summer rains – that business takes a breather.

    On behalf of all our business members, and we have 1300+ of them: we are delighted that the economy is buzzing. Certainly Kelowna streets and highways and beaches reflect good visitor numbers, and locals are getting out and about, too, which means good retail and good news for the service industry.

    Speaking of the service industry, we hosted the Chief Economist of Central 1 Credit Union – Helmut Pastrick – at our last Chamber luncheon before taking a summertime break.  Central 1 is the financial trade association for the BC credit union system.

    Helmut gave us a very lively and informative commentary on the national and local economic recovery prospects. A few days after he spoke to 120 of our members and non-members here in Kelowna, he presented at the annual Bay Area Economic Summit, in Burlington, Ontario.  He has the national view.

    Helmut highlighted Kelowna numbers for our crowd, which was really useful, as so often much of our information is skewed to Vancouver and Toronto. I’ll just touch on a few highlights here, thank you in advance to Helmut:

    Employment Trends – recent gains higher in Kelowna than Vancouver or all of BC. Overall, employment remains an issue, as the numbers could be more robust.
    Population growth: Kelowna remains the leading CMA (Census Metropolitan Area) in population growth in Canada for three years in a row.
    The three top CMA industries in Kelowna over the past year showed up as Construction; Accommodation and Food; and Information, Culture, and Recreation. That aligns perfectly with our key business areas.
    Business building and support is a growing business concentration in the Kelowna CMA.
    And Helmut said that everyone always wants to hear about housing: where are we, where is it going, will it continue to expand? Certainly there is a cyclical upturn in residential sales in the Kelowna CMA – numbers are up in 2015, and median sales price is up. And the market continues to rise, according to the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board: MLS residential sales up, and the average sales price, up. This is accompanied by a shrinking inventory of product for sale; just ask any Kelowna-based Realtor, and you’ll hear the same story. Lots of buyers; not a lot of product.

    A final note from Helmut’s presentation, and that is on the economic and housing forecast for the Kelowna area:  Helmut showed us a forecast through 2018:

    Employment up 1.5% to 2%
    Unemployment dropping from today’s 7.0% to 5.5%
    Population, up by 4%
    Housing sales up by 5%, a healthier percentage than this year’s 15.8%
    Housing starts up by 20%
    We were all delighted that Helmut could take the time to bring us the Kelowna Economic snapshot at our luncheon.

    On other topics: We were pleased to be invited to present local issues at the Federal Liberal Party of Canada’s Pacific Caucus western meeting at the end of July – a solid opportunity to make our voices and our issues known to the federal governing party; issues of importance to Kelowna, and the Okanagan.

    Topics we covered included Kelowna Airport Funding; Invasive Mussels; Credit Card Merchant Fees; Convention Centre; Temporary Foreign Worker Policy; and the Organized Crime Tax Force.  We also revisited the Inter-provincial Sales of 100% Canadian Wine; and Addressing the Doctor Shortage.  (It was a very full agenda!)

    Later this month, the Kelowna Chamber is hosting delegates from Kasugai, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.  In April, our Chamber visited Kasugai, along with six other cities across central and southern Japan as part of a partnership/tourism/business trip co-sponsored by the Kelowna-Kasugai Sister City Association.

    This reciprocal trip only lasts three days, but the 17 delegates are all “home-staying” with local families, to get a true flavor of life here in the Okanagan. (Our 40 delegates all home-stayed for three days in Kasugai in April.)

    Many of the delegates are associated with Chubu University, and our Chamber Day will feature a tour of one of our two post-secondary institutions here, the University of British Columbia Okanagan.  Dr Phil Barker, Associate Vice President Research at UBC Okanagan will host the afternoon tour.

    Morning will see some golf at The Harvest Golf Club, a walking tour of Kasugai Gardens and the downtown cultural district and waterfront.  We’ll have business presentations over a lunch at the Chamber. After our afternoon tour of UBC, we’ll tour the BC Fruit Packinghouse, and have a taste of their new Broken Ladder cider (John Shreiner says “they hit it out of the park with taste and aroma”).  Finally, an outdoor BBQ in the sunshine back at The Harvest Golf Club.

    There is a lot more going on, but that’s probably enough about us, for now.  We remain busy with event planning for fall, continuing membership growth, and our always great back-and-forth conversations with our many members.  We’re also encouraging staff to take a bit of time off while things are “quieter.” 
     
    -KCC