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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.
 

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  • Federal Candidate Business-Focused Q & A
    Aug 31, 2015
    The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is keenly interested in all levels of government and the business environments that encourage economic development. In this light, we are hosting a Federal Candidates Forum on September 25th, 7:30am at the Manteo Resort for the Kelowna-Lake Country candidates. We provided a set of 4 questions to each candidate in the Kelowna-Lake Country and Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola area’s that are related to business interests. Here are the responses we've recieved.
     
    1. Jobs: Jobs are a key focus of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce platform. Though Kelowna has historically maintained near full employment, a key challenge is attracting higher paying, higher skilled jobs to Kelowna. If elected, how will your party bring better jobs to Kelowna?
     
    Dan Albas (Conservative Candidate for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola): A number of factors are required to create employment– investment is key as is the availability of skilled employees and a cost effective business environment. While these measures require a partnership from all levels of Government, from a Federal perspective our government will not increase taxes as is currently proposed by the other parties and we will maintain our skills training program that creates a relationship between employers, educational institutions and students. Our Budget 2015 Action Plan also supports manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment by providing a ten-year tax incentive in the form of an accelerated capital cost allowance.
     
    Norah Bowman (NDP Candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country): Under Harper, Canada has lost 200,000 jobs since the recession. Harper is the first Prime Minister who, when asked about the recession can say “which one?” The NDP will help kick start the local economy by cutting small business taxes from 11% to 9%. This will create jobs, as small businesses create roughly 80% of private sector jobs. The NDP will create an innovation tax credit to help the manufacturing sector, so we can process our resources here in our communities and keep families together with local jobs. The NDP will also invest in research and development and new machinery.
     
    Ron Cannan (Conservative Candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country): Helping our business community create well-paying jobs is both a personal priority and an ongoing priority for our Conservative government. We will succeed by maintaining low business taxes, balanced budget, ongoing funding in local sectors including agricultural &hi tech, opening new markets, supporting job training/trades by investing in the Canada Jobs Grant & UBCO/OC to retain/attract the skilled labour our business sector needs.
    Strong partnerships between all levels of government, private & social sectors. Enthusiastically support a strong business sector because we know that the economy & well-paying jobs are the priority for Canadians. The business sector is the engine that drives that success.
     
    Stephen Fuhr (Liberal Candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country): Kelowna currently enjoys higher paying, higher skilled jobs in the tech sector, healthcare, education, and professional services. To continue to draw more of these jobs into our community, the following variables need to be satisfied: available financial stimulus and access to a skilled workforce that can fill those roles.
    Most recently the Liberal party has announced an aggressive and innovative plan to invest in Canadian infrastructure. This plan will have three distinct eligibility areas: public transport, social and green infrastructure. Specifically, funding for projects such as protection against wildfires and core services like water and sanitation will be made available. Under the “social “eligibility area, funding will be made available for affordable housing, senior facilities and early learning and childcare. Investing in infrastructure is not only necessary for improved quality of life, it is deemed to be the best stimulant for skilled job creation.
    A Liberal government will also renew our commitment to cooperate with the provinces to provide quality healthcare, and assist provinces in building the capacity to do that—with physical capital, human capital, and all the economic spinoffs that entails.
    A Liberal government will also redirect funding from fossil fuels to support investment in the research, development, and manufacture of clean energy technology. This would make new funds available to universities, and I would advocate for those funds to be directed to our institutions.
    Based on my personal experience as CEO for a local avionics company, I know how important government programs like IRAP and SRED* are to stimulate enterprise in the tech sector. I would like to see those programs enhanced, as we are uniquely suited to benefit due to our growing tech sector infrastructure.
    * IRAP Industrial Research Assistance Program SRED Scientific Research and Experimental Development
     
    2. Private investment in business: Kelowna has a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and aims to be one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business. However, all businesses need capital to get off the ground and grow. If elected, how will your party ensure that businesses have access to the capital they need to grow?
     
    Dan Albas (Conservative Candidate for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola): Ultimately it comes down to keeping taxes low. Raising corporate taxes as the NDP proposes takes investment out of the business community and transfers that money to Ottawa. We cannot forget the private sector supports the public sector and our Conservative platform is the only one not proposing tax increases of any kind if elected in 2015. In Alberta we are already starting to see impacts of increased corporate taxes and declining investment. On a different note Budget 2015 also expands services offered through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada to help our business community grow.
     
    Norah Bowman (NDP Candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country): Small businesses are the engine of our economy. Many of them are struggling or need capital in order to grow. New Democrats understand this point and will cut small business taxes from 11% to 9%. This will give an immediate tax break to small businesses so that they can help grow the economy. This is a plan that has been supported by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses.
     
    Ron Cannan (Conservative Candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country): As a former small business owner I understand the importance of having access to capital. Our Conservative government has & will continue to ensure that the Business Development Bank of Canada works closely with entrepreneurs with flexible lending criteria. We also recognize the need for more investment when start-ups need angel investors. As Finance Minister Oliver has noted, “Strong capital markets are at the heart of a strong Canadian economy.” Our government has provided favourable tax policies for investors &
    created numerous Venture Capital Action plans providing the early capital investment needed for entrepreneurs, to innovate, successfully bring new ideas to market & encourage more investment.
     
    Stephen Fuhr (Liberal Candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country): Ultimately, capital is derived from three sources: private investment, lending institutions, and direct government investment. As a former CEO of a local avionics company, I know how difficult it would have been to launch and grow that business without federal programs like the Industrial Research Assistance Program and the Scientific Research Experimental Development tax incentive. A Liberal government will continue to provide these incentives to facilitate technical business development. A recent announcement by the Liberal party will make billions of dollars of new money available for municipal infrastructure improvement. Additionally, a Liberal government will sponsor innovative methods of alternative financing with the establishment of a Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) aiming at providing low-cost financing. This new CIB will work in partnership with all layers of government and the financial community to best leverage Canada’s strong credit rating and lending authority to make it easier and more affordable for municipalities to finance local projects. Alongside the new CIB, Green Bonds will be issued so that green projects will be more attractive to private investors, by offering loan guarantees, reducing financing costs and risk and bundling small initiatives into attractive and rewarding offerings for investors.
     
    3. Technology: Kelowna has a growing tech sector and is home to leading educational institutions. However, technology oftentimes fails to realize its potential for positive impact on business and productivity. If elected, how will your party push technology to benefit business and promote productivity?
     
    Dan Albas (Conservative Candidate for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola): I can think of no better local example on this question then my colleague Ron Cannan who was instrumental in securing $3.4 million in federal funding for the Okanagan Centre for Innovation. For those of you unfamiliar with the Centre for Innovation, it is 24,000 sq.ft with numerous technology resources intended to assist local entrepreneurs in the new digital age. This is a very exciting facility for our region and demonstrates that our Government is at the forefront in strategic investment that ensures local business has access to technology in our rapidly changing markets.
     
    Norah Bowman (NDP Candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country): The NDP has tabled the Post-Secondary Act in the House of Commons to ensure adequate and stable funding for our educational institutions. This will help make sure that our educational institutions in Kelowna can be at the forefront of researching new technology and grow the technology sector locally. As energy efficiency becomes increasingly important, an NDP government will kickstart our clean energy sector to make Canada a global market leader. Kelowna is well situated for solar energy, for example – Okanagan College has installed solar panels, and this is only one way that technological knowledge should be applied to sustainable local industry.
     
    Ron Cannan (Conservative Candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country): For a long time successive governments have heard that we need to do better at getting technology to the marketplace to increase Canada’s productivity. The Jenkins Report made that very clear: http://rdreview.ca/eic/site/033.nsf/eng/h_00287.html
    Our conservative government took that advice seriously and has invested heavily in R&D in a number of sectors.
    Add to that a competitive tax regime/tax incentives that now directly support business innovation, retention of highly skilled people, opening new markets for export and investing in the physical/digital infrastructure needed to get our products to market. Conditions for success & increased productivity! Locally through Accelerate Okanagan/Okanagan Innovation Centre the future is very exciting!
     
    Stephen Fuhr (Liberal Candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country): A Liberal government would help businesses benefit from technology to boost productivity and efficiency with a few important strategies: improve energy efficiency; create incentives for technology adoption; empower decisions with open access to government data; and improve our buying power for technology. Specifically: tax incentives and the consolidation of today’s scattered programs will boost investments in job creation in small, innovative start-up businesses in a number of fields to include aerospace and manufacturing.
    Liberals have a long history of supporting innovation in Canada, creating the Canada Foundation for Innovation in 1997 to establish competitive research facilities. These funding projects have led to countless spinoffs in the private sector, retained our best talent, and helped to diversify the Canadian economy.
    Ultimately, the government should enable specialized technology incubators and accelerators to find the best solutions and best practices that benefit businesses and promote productivity.
     
    4. Markets: Kelowna’s natural beauty and hospitality attracts visitors from all over the world, and its business community benefits from exporting themselves and their products abroad. Simply put, dollars from abroad bring prosperity to our City. If elected, how will your party assist business in reaping opportunities from markets abroad?
     
    Dan Albas (Conservative Candidate for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola): We are extremely fortunate here in the Okanagan to enjoy the success of the Kelowna International Airport that has served as our gateway to the world. Last month our Government extended the lease to the Kelowna Airport for 39 years that provides long term certainty our airport can continue to grow and capitalize on international opportunities that are hugely beneficial for our region. Since 2007 our Government has also concluded trade agreements with 38 countries that now represent more than half of the global economy. This opens up exciting new opportunities and ensures our region has an incredibly bright future.
     
    Norah Bowman (NDP Candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country): The NDP knows Tourism is an important sector for Kelowna's economy. Stephen Harper and the Conservatives cut $24 million of funding from Destination Canada. Instead of investing in Canadian tourism, Conservatives spent more than $800 million on government advertising—much of it highly partisan. Tom Mulcair announced $30 million in funding for Destination Canada, particularly the Connecting America campaign to attract American tourists. This will help boost the local economy as Kelowna is a top tourist destination in Canada. Our agriculture industry exports abroad. The NDP will work with local agriculture groups to ensure fair prices for Canadian products internationally.
     
    Ron Cannan (Conservative Candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country): In 2006 when I was first elected as MP for Kelowna Lake Country, Canada had free trade agreements with 5 countries; today we have 44. We are opening new markets, reducing & eliminating tariffs & promoting Canadian products like our cherries to the world’s largest markets in Europe/Asia. Our Okanagan business sector is not afraid to compete with the world when we are on a level playing field. "Go Global" workshops will help local businesses learn how to tap into resources/services like our Trade Commissioners to take advantage of these new markets. As well, continuing to break down trade barriers within Canada.
     
    Stephen Fuhr (Liberal Candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country): Paths to accessing markets abroad depend on the sector. Generally speaking, we want efficient transport infrastructure by road and by air to reach Kelowna, we want to promote Kelowna as a business and tourism destination.
    A Liberal government would seek to re-energize cooperation on reducing impediments to trade and commerce between countries – including by improving border infrastructure, streamlining cargo inspection, and making the movement of people and goods easier.
    A Liberal government is committed to working with all levels of government and First Nations communities to improve highways and road infrastructure. We have announced plans to not only directly fund infrastructure projects but also create a Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide low-cost financing for such projects.
    I have a lot of experience working with Transport Canada and know we haven’t realized Kelowna’s potential as a regional or national air hub. As Kelowna’s Member of Parliament, I would advocate for our community to expand that capacity.
    We also want to promote trade with other nations, not simply negotiate trade agreements. A Liberal government would resume those Team Canada trade missions started by Chretien, and give Canadian businesses opportunities to access foreign markets and investment.
     
    -KCC 
  • How to Find Time for Social Media
    Aug 26, 2015

    Small business owners, especially those businesses with under 10 employees, find it extremely difficult to justify the time on social media because it doesn’t lead to predictable, measurable cost savings or revenue.

    Social media and content marketing is about becoming an engaging resource for your customers. What’s the yield of a relationship? If you can figure out what a relationship is worth in revenue dollars, you should be blogging about it.

    The truth is, we can’t. Not exactly at least. But we know people buy from people they know, like, and trust and that’s why it’s important to invest time in building these connections and affections.

    Finding that time is easier said than done. Still here are a couple of suggestions on how to carve out some time to increase your efforts on social media.

    Keep Content Handy

    The first thing you’ll need is a place to keep content you find. Not all content will be applicable for sharing the moment you come across it. We’ve all seen people on Twitter who post 10 tweets at a time and figure they are done for the day. It is better to deal out your posts at multiple times than all at once. Often you’ll find content that you’ll want to share later so select a system in which you can easily access your content gems in the future.

    Upload content to DropBox, use Evernote, or keep a notepad handy (paper or electronic). Doesn’t matter if you keep fortune cookie messages in a shoe box. Never let what you deem to be a valuable piece of content escape. Keep it somewhere handy and build a cache of it.

    Find a Scheduler You Like

    There are many options to help you pre-schedule posts. Scheduling is important because you can’t spend your whole day posting, nor do you want to be that person who bombards others with a firehose worth of content once a day.

    Find a scheduler you’re comfortable with. Many systems allow you to control when you post and often give you the ability to do it several days out. One of the most basic is Buffer. It allows you to schedule across multiple platforms. It offers a free and paid version, but even the paid is only about $10 a month.

    The most popular is Hootsuite, and while I use it occasionally because it offers greater capabilities than Buffer, I do prefer Buffer’s minimalist design. Hootsuite’s interface is busy but allows you to monitor in real time. If you’re developing relationships, this is a powerful ability to have.

    Multi-task

    I’m not telling you to turn off the TV when you get home, but there is no reason if you’re “vegging out” that you can’t use that time to schedule a few posts for the next day. Don’t let mindless tasks, like television watching, steal your productivity.

    “Steal” Time

    We all have moments where we’re waiting – before doctor’s appointments, before meetings, on the phone, while the kids finish up with practice, you get the idea. Many of us fill this time with other mindless tasks like scanning pictures of our friends’ pets on Facebook. Instead, use this time to be productive by finding content, scheduling it, or responding to people on social media. I am a firm believer in scheduling posts but the interacting cannot be scheduled, so use this stolen time to reach out and connect with people.

    Look for Content Everywhere

    Content ideas are everywhere – airplane magazines, overheard conversations, commercials, popular TV shows, as well as all over social media. Use the many messages that bombard you daily to find gems you’d like to share. Retweets are only the beginning.

    Take Pictures

    Along that line, take pictures of everything that moves you and some ordinary things that don’t. Pictures you take can be used in blogs, memes, and image quotes without concern over cost or copyright. Links with pics are more likely to get shared and clicked. Encourage staff to do the same.

    You don’t need huge chunks of time to make connections on social media. The key to success in this area is the same in most business- or relationship-building. Give people what they want/find valuable; do so without expectation. Become a resource for them and help them. Be consistent in your efforts so they know they can count on you. This take minutes a day. Schedule good content and steal time for interacting. Then watch your relationships grow as people share your resources with others.

    -Christina R. Green 

  • Why We Need the TPP (“Trans-Pacific Partnership” or “Trade Is a Pain for Politicians”)
    Aug 19, 2015

    Wouldn’t it be great to join a free trade agreement with 12 countries in the world’s fastest growing region— one that covers 40% of the world’s GDP and one-third of global trade?

    The Peterson Institute for International Economic estimates that by 2025, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could boost Canadian incomes by an additional $10 billion per year and raise global incomes by $295 billion per year. Given our challenge with exports and a slowing economy, who wouldn’t want that?

    However, the problem is that TPP is very ambitious. It would be the largest regional trade deal ever and would set a new standard for what trade agreements cover.

    One of the fundamental challenges of trade agreements is that it’s easy to point to the industries or companies that struggle with new competition because they’re so vocal. We hear a lot less about who will benefit and who will gain new export deals five years into the future. Canada’s trade with the United States has quadrupled since we signed NAFTA, but nobody could have predicted which companies would flourish.

    Some benefits are clear: the high import tariffs paid by Canadian exporters of meat, grain, oil seeds, seafood and certain forest products will drop significantly. Over 65% of Canada’s agricultural exports go to TPP countries. The TPP could double beef sales to Japan.

    But for other industries, tariffs aren’t a big deal because they’re already low after years of trade liberalization. For them, the big barriers to trade come from a complicated web of regulations and red tape, like inconsistent customs procedures or regulations that don’t let companies send business data back to Canada. Companies are also worried about risks to their investments and intellectual property and about having to compete with companies that have an unfair advantage because of subsidies or weak environmental and labour standards. By tackling these problems, the TPP will significantly improve the business environment for Canadian financial services, manufacturing, natural resources and high-tech companies.

    The stakes are even higher because the 12 members of TPP are just the beginning. Everyone hopes the TPP will expand, bringing in countries like the Philippines South Korea, Thailand and, eventually, China. An expanded membership would boost Canadian incomes by $26 billion and global incomes by $1.9 trillion annually. With all these massive traders, the TPP would be the new rulebook for global commerce.

    That’s why we were so excited about last week’s meeting in Maui. The TPP could have been the biggest trade agreement sealed anywhere in the world in the past 20 years. But the deal failed to close because of disagreements, notably on dairy, sugar, automobiles and pharmaceuticals.

    We shouldn’t point fingers because every country has its sensitive areas. And it’s harder for politicians, particularly now that Canada and the United States are going into election season.

    That’s why it’s more important than ever that Canadian business and Canada’s chambers of commerce raise their voices to say that free trade will help us win more deals, make us wealthier and help us create better, higher-paying jobs. Our future depends on it, so let’s keep trying.

     

    -Hendrik Brakel, CCC

  • August Update @ The Chamber
    Aug 13, 2015

    Here at the Chamber, we are gearing up for a VERY busy September.

    In partnership with our Ambassadors, we are hosting our very first Wedding Expo & Fashion Show. Those in the industry, or soon-to-be married, should not miss this!

    Another special event we're hosting in September is a pre-election forum which will be moderated by no-nonsense news veterans Phil Johnson & Gord Vizzuti. We will have a few business-related questions for the candidates, and attendees will also have an opportunity to pose questions! To read what happened at the first leaders debate, click here.

    We would also like to remind everyone to conserve water wherever and whenever you can as Okanagan has officially been declared at a Drought level 4, the driest rating. Further declines in stream, lake and aquifer levels could lead to water shortages and affect people, industry such as agriculture, wildlife and fish stocks.

    For a list of all of our upcoming events, click here.