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Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC Photo courtesy: www.tourismkelowna.com Photographer Brian Sprout - Picture BC 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 Chamber works 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.


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


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  • 6 Must Read Tips for Start-Up Businesses
    Apr 15, 2015

    Chambers are often asked for advice on how to start a business. Building your own business from the ground up is no easy task. There is no template or formula to creating a hugely successful business. There is just sheer hard work, determination and a will to succeed. Apple founder Steve Jobs once famously said “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”

    1.                Make Sure You Have Support

    Starting up your own business is a difficult task and this can be made even more so if you feel that you are not being supported by the ones closest to you. How can you expect to succeed if you feel that those nearest and dearest to you do not believe in your abilities? If you’re married and/or have kids, you should also be asking your family how they feel about your working from home, as your decision will affect them both financially and psychologically. If the response is negative, spend time addressing any concerns. If you are unable to change their minds decide whether your goal is worth continuing against their wishes. This does not just end with family, asking close friends, colleagues or peers for their support can give you that added confidence.

    2.              Research

    In any start-up, you don’t know what you don’t know. This is especially true when you’re entering an unfamiliar industry.

    Get started through research, studying the competition and talking to mentors. The first thing when thinking of establishing a new business is to take the time to do research on your market. This doesn’t have to involve substantial costs, you can find out key information by taking the time and undertaking it yourself. This will allow you to perform a SWOT analysis, assessing your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the marketplace. It will also give a clear picture without any further investment at this time as to the viability of your proposition.

    3.              Business Plan

    Numerous studies have shown that one of the major reasons new businesses fail is poor planning. If you are planning on starting up a business, you must have a business plan. This will serve as a road map to guide you, and communicate with your bank or investors what you’re doing and why they should invest in you.

    It should include a mission statement, executive summary, product or service offerings, target market, marketing plan, industry and competitive analysis.

    A detailed and comprehensive business plan should ideally be able to answer the following questions;

    ·         What primary product(s) or service(s) will you provide?

    ·         What will you charge for your products(s) or services(s)?

    ·         What does it cost you to deliver this product or service?

    ·         How many pieces must you sell or how many clients must you secure to generate the revenue you desire?

    ·         Who is the target market for your product(s) or service(s)?

    ·         Why will they buy from you?

    ·         How exactly will you reach your target market to sell to them?

    ·         How will you get going right now with your currently available resources? What do you absolutely need that you’ll need help with?

    ·         What could stand in your way of generating sales—and how will you overcome such obstacles?

    ·         What benchmarks must you reach to qualify your business as a success?

    4.              Find the Right Funding

    Potential sources of funding include a small-business loan from your local bank, tapping into your savings, money from other investments, borrowing from family/friends and, as a last resort, credit cards. Ideally, this investment will help you break even after a year, but keep in mind that even successful businesses can remain in debt for the first few years. The best way to start a business is to start out small and dip your toe in, so to speak. The advantages to testing your market will ensure you do not end up in a hole, with nothing to show. There are a lot of successful businesses, which have started out with a very minimal investment a great product and a great business strategy.

    The amount of avenues in which you can obtain capital is large and research can help you uncover them.

    5.              Learn Why Others Have Failed

    People naturally want to emulate success by analyzing successful business models, but it’s more important to learn from companies that have failed. You can learn from success stories but that same is true of failures. Learning from others mistakes significantly decreases your chances of following the same path. Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell once said “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

    There can be thousands of factors that contribute to business success, but when a business fails, it’s often easy to pinpoint the reasons. You must avoid making these mistakes yourself.

    6.              Getting Your Name Out There – Networking

    There is usually a local or national trade show expo or conference in every industry, where the “who’s who” all gathers in one place. Your local chamber may even host a business expo. Attend these events. You’ll have the chance to learn the lay of the land, meet hundreds of people in person and learn about what’s new in your industry. It’s also a great place to form new partnerships. Bring lots of business cards!

    The moment your business strategy has evolved, start attending networking events. Becoming a member of your local chamber will probably give you access to a whole host of networking events throughout the year. If not, reach out on social media for ways to grow your network.


    Brian Cleary is the Chief Executive of Clonmel Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest business services organizations in Ireland. He’s also the past director of Chambers Ireland. He writes for a number of online publications and is a regular co-presenter of the 'Small Business Show' a syndicated radio program broadcast on a number of stations throughout Ireland and available as a podcast.



  • Canada's Oil Sands: The Truth Unveiled
    Apr 10, 2015

    As a recognized business leader in Kelowna, I was invited to participate in a Canadian Chamber of Commerce Energy Tour that provided an in-depth opportunity to hear from a good cross section of energy companies and actually go on mine sites in Fort McMurray.


    My perceptions on the opportunity, constraints and threats to this economic behemoth as it relates to our local community and to Canada are as follows;


    I agree with the views of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association. Rather than being seen as a negative force, the oil sands or other major natural resource developments (including mining, forestry and energy) Canadians must view these projects as generational opportunities for economic growth. We must leverage and harness their development to maximize economic opportunity today and for future generations.


    The twelve companies I met on my trip had something in common beyond oil sands, the staff demonstrated pride in the work they do and are professionals in their field, most career oil production people. The commitment to working under the strictest federal government regulations and their passion for improving environmental conditions was evident and credible.

    Between 1990 and 2012, GHG emissions associated with every barrel of oil sands crude produced were reduced by 28%. Today, Canada's oil sands only account for 0.13% of the entire world's GHG emissions.


    I saw evidence of environmental collaboration, as oil sands companies have formed OSIA,Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance. Through COSIA, participating companies capture, develop and share the most innovative approaches and best thinking to improve environmental performance in the oil sands, focusing on four Environmental Priority Areas (EPAs) - tailings, water, land and greenhouse gases. There is collaboration and transparent exchange that is reducing environmental impacts and costs of production. Both are positives to us as consumers.


    Petroleum exporters are also making great strides in reducing their environmental footprint.


    It was clear to me personally, that for transporting oil safely for long distances, pipelines are unmatched in their safety performances.  In fact I feel very strongly that Canada needs to export oil products to Asia markets. I would much rather have Canada extracting and shipping oil with our strict regulatory conditions than, Asia purchasing from countries with less than stellar safety records or government instability. We all use products derived from oil every day, from plastic cellular cases, to computers and tires for our bikes or shoes on our feet. Let's get real, the world needs oil to make products and move the products to stores and homes.


    Apparently, Canada's role as a responsible innovator in commodity production is matched by the resources sector's ability to pay good wages. Mining, oil and gas extraction wages flow back to every province as do the workers that call B.C. home. Resource jobs produced up to 15 times more value for Canada's economy than the average job. Recent talk of raising minimum wages would be moot points if people searching for real raises identified fields that create the most value, and then search out the training needed.


    Manufacturers play a critical role in this development. In 2010, B.C. manufacturers sold over $6 billion worth of high tech products and services into the development and operation of Alberta's oil sands. It is a large and growing portion of sales for many sectors and many companies - especially those manufacturing machinery and equipment, steel and steel products, and construction equipment. And these opportunities are being felt right across the country in every province and region including here in the Okanagan.



    Canadian manufacturers can focus their attention on how can continue to grow their sales into the oil sands and capture more of these opportunities.


    As a first step, Canada's manufacturers must understand the specific opportunities that oil sands development offers them. Second, governments, oil sands producers and manufacturers must work much more closely together to improve domestic supply chains and to make them more efficient.


    Perhaps most importantly, we must all work together to ensure that Canadians fully understand and appreciate the economic importance of natural resource development, and specifically Alberta's oil sands, to ensure their development continues responsibility and is not unnecessary restricted.

    Canada's forest product producers are also constantly adapting to service the world's marketplace.

    As the Forest Products Association of Canada said recently, business as usual is no longer an option. The industry employs more than 235,000 Canadians and plans to renew its workforce by 2020. It's also one of Canada's most innovative and sustainable sectors. This sector too is demonstrating environmental responsibility. In fact, a recent report found Canada has only a .2% deforestation rate while also leading the world in forest product exports.


    I urge you to consider this. Ensure that your opinions are based on today's facts. Today's oil sands do not resemble the first mining foray.Today's natural resource industries, are responsible, transparent, motivated to reduce emissions and lower environmental impacts. They are also critical to our economic future. I stand behind the technology and the knowledge that leads Canadian resource development.


    -Caroline Grover, CEO, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce

  • #Winning in fight against invasive mussels
    Mar 31, 2015

    The Province is expanding its fight against invasive mussels with a $1.3-million boost toward early detection and rapid response. 

    Although these invasive species have never been detected in British Columbia, this program expansion increases protection of B.C.'s lakes and rivers against the threat of quagga and zebra mussels.

    The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has been at the forefront at the federal and provincial level calling for this type of action to prevent an economic and ecological crisis of our lakes


    "The Chamber supports the efforts of the Okanagan Water Basin Board in increasing public and governments awareness of the serious threat this has to BC and the Okanagan." States Ken Carmichael, President of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.


    "This is another step in our government's ongoing efforts to prevent invasive mussels from becoming established in B.C.," says Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson. "I encourage all recreational boaters to familiarize themselves with the 'Clean, Drain, Dry' program so they can also do their part."

    A shopping cart pulled from an infested lake


    The strengthened invasive mussel defence program begins operations in April for the 2015 boating season and consists of:

    • Three mobile decontamination units.
    • Six trained auxiliary conservation officers.
    • Highway signage throughout the province.
    • Expanded monitoring for zebra and quagga mussels.
    • Report All Poachers or Polluters response line coverage.
    • Increasing "Clean, Drain, Dry" education and outreach activities.

    Through this program, teams will inspect and, if necessary, decontaminate boats entering B.C. from Alberta. They also will respond to boats from the U.S. identified as a concern by the Canadian Border Services Agency, as well as U.S. partner agencies. Each crew will be equipped with mobile self-contained decontamination units.

    The teams will consist of trained auxiliary conservation officers coming from university compliance training programs offered by Vancouver Island University, providing valuable experience for students and recent graduates.

    Twenty-four new highway signs featuring the Clean, Drain, Dry program are also being installed at significant entry points into the province.


    Aquatic invasive species, such as zebra and quagga mussels, pose a significant threat to B.C.'s and Canada's freshwater ecosystems. These mussels threaten native species and fisheries in lakes and rivers. They clog water intake pipes, leading to increased maintenance costs for hydroelectric, domestic water, industrial, agricultural and recreational facilities.

    Provincial legislation already in place empowers the program expansion. The Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line is expanding to receive and co-ordinate reports of mussel threats or incidents. The Province continues to develop and implement a perimeter defence plan for zebra and quagga mussels with neighbouring jurisdictions, keeping Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columba, Alberta and Saskatchewan free from these invasive species through a coordinated effort. 
    -KCC Contributor 
  • Is Canada Headed for Recession?
    Mar 24, 2015

    Since the Bank of Canada lowered interest rates as “insurance” against the risk of a sharper downturn, many have been asking: How long will it take for the fall in oil prices to impact the broader economy and how severe will the slowdown be? What will it mean for Canadian business?

    Canada’s fourth-quarter GDP growth came in at a brisk 2.4%, which looks pretty good, but when we examine where the growth came from, there is cause for concern. Household consumption was OK, but exports and business investment both declined. Instead, you can see in the adjacent graph that the biggest contributor, accounting for three quarters of the rise in GDP is inventories.

    A sharp rise in inventory can be caused by businesses stocking up in anticipation of stronger sales in the future or, alternatively, if a sharp deterioration in demand leaves unwanted stock. What’s the likelihood that business was stocking up in anticipation of a bonanza at the end of 2014? Not very good. Instead, we’ve heard anecdotally that companies in the oil patch were hit with a particularly sharp drop in sales, and the concerns are broad-based with the auto sector accounting for a big part of rising inventories.

    There are three reasons we’re expecting a significant slowdown in Canada. Firstly, the big declines in capital expenditure have not yet been seen in the broader economy. Remember that oil prices remained above $75 until the middle of November and only fell into the $50 range in December. There were many announcements of cutbacks at the end of 2014 but these will not be seen in operations on the ground until the first half of 2015, a point confirmed by many service providers in the energy industry.

    Secondly, consumption looks soft as retail sales fell by 1.7% in January, signs that consumers are staying home. Also, that big boost from inventories will reverse and become negative in the quarters ahead as the closures of Target, Mexx, Jacob and Sony subtract billions from the inventory tally this year.

    Thirdly, it is true that many manufacturing industries are seeing a boost in sales from the weaker loonie and a stronger U.S. economy. Canada’s auto sector and aerospace industry exports have been particularly stellar. However, oil and gas accounts for 24% of Canadian exports, and those prices have fallen by half. It will take a long time before manufacturing can compensate for a 12% hit to Canadian exports.

    Canada’s domestic economy has a hit a soft patch, so we should be braced for bad news in the first half of 2015. Overall GDP growth should come in around 1.8% this year, and Canadian businesses will have to focus more than ever on exports if they want to maintain the strong growth rates we’ve seen. In the meantime, it looks like we may need that insurance.

    -Hendrik Brakel, Canadian Chamber of Commerce