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

#Winning in fight against invasive mussels

by Admin 31. March 2015 13:48

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 

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Is Canada Headed for Recession?

by Admin 24. March 2015 11:56

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 

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Philanthropy + Entrepreneurship = "Dragon Emeritus" W. Brett Wilson

by Admin 17. March 2015 10:46
"Yes, he'll do it".
Those four words were music to our ears coming through the phone from W. Brett Wilson's publicist a few short weeks ago. Kelowna Chamber Staffer, Stephanie, had been diligently persuing him since she sat in a lecture by the mogul himself at Okangan College in January. 
  Brett is best known for his 3 seasons as a "Dragon" on CBC's hit tv show, Dragon's Den, however he's certainly been making a name around town for himself since buying Global Fitness, and more recently the development of PraireWest Centre, home of the new FABRICLAND.
We are thrilled to have him as our guest speaker immediately following our Annual General Meeting. Brett will bring stories from behind the scenes during his celebrated time on CBC's Dragons' Den, discuss the importance of planting the seeds of 
entrepreneurship in Canada, as well as share the three pillars to success we should all start to study today!   
Don't miss opportunity to hear from and meet one of Canada's most successful business people. 

When: Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 
 
Where: Manteo Resort ,  3762 Lakeshore Rd, Kelowna 
 
Time: 11:00 am-1:30 pm 
  • 11-11:30 - Check-In
  • 11:30-12:00 - KCC 2015 AGM (no charge to attend)
  • 12:00-1:30 - 3 Course Luncheon & Brett's Presentation
  • 1:30- Meet & Greet
Ticket Prices:  $55  or $40 for Kelowna Chamber members
(Tickets must be purchased in advance).  

Register:  http://bit.ly/19wrJSd

Purchase Deadline:  Tickets must be purchased before 4 pm on Apr.1, 2015. 

Tickets not claimed within 5 minutes of posted program starting time, can be resold.

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations must be received 3 business days prior to the event -- no refunds after that. 

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Welcome A-Board!

by Admin 10. March 2015 07:43

The Kelowna Chamber 2015/16 Term is just underway. There were 6 director's seats up for grabs, and after we had 11 candidates apply for the positions, we posted their answers to our questions online and went to a vote. The election remained open for 2 weeks and we collected about 300 votes. It was a very close race! The final results saw directors with equal amount of votes as well as some 1, 2 and 3 apart. With the calibur of candidates we had, it is no wonder:

 

Candidates
Brian Bonsma*; Speedpro Signs
Tom Dyas*; TD Benefit Solutions
Una Gabie, Touchstone Law Group LLP
Dustin Serviss, Serviss Wealth Management
Brad Field, PRE Labs
Alexandra Babbel, Opera Kelowna
Angela Nagy, GreenStep Solutions Inc.
Sonja Riediger, Honka Homes
Angela McManus, The Vibrant Vine
Al Hildebrandt, QHR Technologies Inc.
Stuart Grant, MNP LLP

 

  *Incumbent

 

We are pleased to welcome back our incumbents Brian Bonsma & Tom Dyas for another term, as well as the following new directors: 

  • Una Gabie (Touchstone Law)
  • Stuart Grant (MNP LLP)
  • Angela Nagy (Greenstep Solutions)
  • Al Hildebrandt (QHR Technologies)
    New Directors being sworn in

They were elected alongside incumbents  and will round out the Board of 14 members. Ken Carmichael will lead as President and all will be sworn in later this month. We are thrilled that so many were interested in joining our organization and look forward to the diversity these individuals will bring to the table.

-KCC Contributor 

 

 

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Calling Professionals & Students

by Admin 3. March 2015 08:11

Finding a job (or reliable employees) can be tough, let’s face it. The good news? It doesn’t have to be.

With our program Launch Students into Business having already taken off several months ago, the New Year promises to connect over 25 students with industry professionals in their field, building meaningful relationships and valuable connections for Kelowna’s up-and-coming young professionals. 

With this network of connections and their enhanced skill sets, we aim to provide these 3rd&4th year students with the resources needed to plug themselves into the community, enabling them to start their careers with confidence and ease.

 So, this is a call to action. A call for those who want to better themselves, or their organizations. We’re looking to take on more students and connectors and are looking for individuals interested in teaching workshops with us to further the students’ skill sets.

For professionals, this is your chance to meet some of these soon to be grads first hand. To give them that helping hand you would have appreciated starting out, and to get your business in front of them, in an otherwise crowded market.

Students – this is an opportunity for you to meet the people who will help you build your future. Why not get your foot in the door?

We are after all types of backgrounds: business, trades, arts, you name it. As BC’s 2nd largest chamber, we have the member base to support all varieties of backgrounds and are eager to do so.

To learn more or to get involved in the program, please contact Stephanie at stephanie@kelownachamer.org or call 250-469-7357. 

 

-KCC Contributor 

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Is this the end of the Commodity Supercycle?

by Admin 26. February 2015 14:06

These are tough times for commodities. Oil is grabbing all the headlines, with prices plunging 50% since June of last year. But agriculture prices are also soft, especially corn, which is down 53%. Metal prices have been weak for a while, particularly iron ore and copper, which are 40% lower than where they were two years ago. So is this the end of the commodity supercycle? And, what does that mean for business? A commodity supercycle is a period of unusually strong industrial and urban development, where demand for natural resources outstrips supply, sustaining decades of high prices. Think of post World War II or the industrialization of the United States. There is strong evidence that we’ve been riding a commodity supercycle. From the late 1990s to 2008, almost all commodities were experiencing real price growth rates exceeding 10% per year. Oil prices rose 1,062%, copper prices soared by 487% and corn prices were up 240%1. The real price of food increased almost 80% to reach the highest levels in history. Commodity prices crashed during the great recession of 2009 but they recovered quickly and kept on climbing. Why the soaring demand for commodities? During this time period, there was an explosion in the size of the middle class. According to the World Bank, the emerging market middle class (people earning between $2 and $13 per day) rose from 894 million in 1992 to 2.06 billion in 2005. It’s an incredible story: more people were lifted out of poverty than at any time in human history. And the first things people want when they join the middle class are pretty simple: better food, a nice home with a refrigerator and maybe even a vehicle. Look at the adjacent graph of car sales in China. Quite amazing, but if we graphed car sales in Indonesia, refrigerators in South Africa or home construction in India, the graphs would all look similar. All this requires enormous natural resources. For decades, producers of energy, metals and agriculture struggled because they could barely keep up with demand. Then in 2013, with record resource production, demand growth suddenly began to slow and commodity prices fell. So is the party over? Emerging markets have slowed, but we have to look at long-term prospects. The IMF is forecasting that emerging Asia will average 6.5% growth through 2020; Latin America and Africa will grow at 3.2% and 6% respectively. The OECD is forecasting that the global middle class will increase from 1.8 billion in 2009 to 3.2 billion in 2020. That’s a lot of new consumers and a lot of commodities needed as people get wealthier. So the commodity supercycle is not over, but when demand depends so much on emerging market strength, we have to anticipate volatility. Prices will recover but not to the lofty heights of 2007. This is good news for Canada because we have some of the most efficient natural resource producers in the world. Visit Powerofcanada.ca for more information.

 

-Hendrick Brakel, CCC 

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Chamber Myths De-bunked

by Admin 20. February 2015 13:13

This week we recognized Chamber week by hosting an event each day of the week to provide you with the opportunity to network, dine and engage to learn what we do for the business community. 


Have you caught yourself wondering what a Chamber of Commerce is and what it does for business? Here are some myth's - debunked.

* Myth #1: The Chamber of Commerce is a Bank. We are not a bank, we are the most broadly-based business organization working on behalf of small to large businesses.

* Myth #2: The Chamber is a private club. We are an accessible, modern, organization supporting local business in their community.

* Myth #3: Chambers are a part of Government. Chambers of Commerce engage with all levels of government as a voice, advocating on behalf of businesses, but are not government.

* Myth #4: All we offer is Group Insurance Benefits. Chambers have a long list of exclusive member benefits to offer businesses, Group Insurance is just one of many.

So if you've been on the fence, now is the time to join your Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and access Canada's largest business network. It's just smart business.

-KCC

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Chamber of Commerce Week

by Admin 13. February 2015 08:27
February 16, 2015, marks the beginning of Chamber of Commerce Week in Kelowna, as officially proclaimed by Mayor Colin Basran, as well as across BC. Chamber week is an opportunity for Chambers of Commerce throughout British Columbia to showcase their work on behalf of business communities across the province.

This year, Chambers are celebrating the theme of "Leadership in Action" - a theme which highlights the leadership Chambers bring to their business communities, working hard to enhance B.C. as a business-friendly jurisdiction with strong opportunities for all British Columbians.

And this leadership delivers results. Following on B.C. Chambers' active advocacy, the federal and provincial governments working in partnership, were able to deliver a significant win for B.C.'s businesses: the launch of the Canada Job Grant in B.C.

Thanks to the hard work of Chambers in B.C., working closely with a responsive government, employers will be able to apply for up $10,000 in training funds. The Canada Job Grant, funded by the Government of Canada and administered by the Province of B.C., is an innovative cost-sharing program that helps employers offset the cost of training for new or current employees. 

And that's just one of many positive changes that the Chamber network has led for B.C. businesses. Among many areas of impact, B.C.'s Chambers have been a key voice:
* encouraging balanced budgets at all levels of government;
* continuing to call for solutions to B.C.'s skills gap; and
* encouraging municipalities to actively support local economic development.

As members of the BC Chamber of Commerce, Chambers throughout the province are part of B.C.'s most extensive business policy development process. This process brings B.C. businesses' innovative ideas and on-the-ground insights to B.C.'s decision makers, and helps shape an ever more business-friendly province. Chamber network policies span from fiscal and tax policy to infrastructure to industry-specific issues.

At the local level, Chambers throughout B.C. are catalysts for change, bringing together business and community leaders to figure out how to take each community forward.
Here in Kelowna, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has been working with the Okanagan Water Basin Board. The Chamber developed a policy resolution that was taken successfully to the provincial and federal Chamber levels, calling for support in keeping invasive mussel species out of BC. The Federal Government acted swiftly to propose regulations to protect our fresh water lakes. 

Taxation and equity for business played a role in the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce work relating to the Property Transfer Tax, asking that the Provincial Government increase the 1% PTT threshold from $200,000 to $525,000 with 2% applying to the remainder of the fair market value; and index the 1% PTT threshold of $525,000 using Statistics Canada's New Housing Price, and make adjustments annually. 

Credit unions in the province are being impacted due to changes in the small business tax regulations, bringing the Chamber to recommend that the government extend the small business tax benefit permanently to credit unions to meet their unique needs with regulations and tax regimes that keep them strong and viable.

Another policy, developed collaboratively with the valley Chambers of Commerce relates to the call for the Provincial Government to sign an agreement to negotiate with the Government of Canada to conclude a fair and equitable feasibility process to determine the economic impact of a national park in the South Okanagan-Lower Similkameen.

So as B.C. celebrates Chamber Week, don't miss the opportunity to swing by the Kelowna Chamber for their open house on Monday from 4:30-6 pm, or register for one of the other Chamber Week events, at kelownachamber.org/events & join us in celebrating the leadership, energy and can-do attitude that B.C.'s Chambers bring to our communities.
 
-KCC 

  

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The Cream of the Crop... or the Young at the Top

by Admin 12. February 2015 12:33

Kelowna’s Top Forty Under 40 has officially reached the mid-way mark! With 21 remarkable people across the valley having already been interviewed by the Daily Courier, the pressure is on.

Haven’t submitted your nomination yet? You’re in luck! We will be accepting nominations no later than 12:00pm on March 17th, 2015.

We’re looking for individuals under 40 who have made meaningful contributions to the community both professionally, and on a community level. Not a ‘business person’? That’s okay! We are looking to celebrate all kinds of success and achievement – the only rule is you must be under the age of 40.

To nominate someone, simply send an email to topforty@kelownachamber.org or call 250-469-7357 and tell us why you feel they should be Kelowna’s Top Forty Under 40.

These forty features will end June 17th, culminating in a wrap-up event on June 23rd, 2015, celebrating the success of these remarkable individuals and their accomplishments. For more details, or to hold your ticket, please contact Stephanie at 250-469-7357.

We can’t wait for your nominations! See current nominees here

 

-KCC 

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Interest Rates: How Low for How Long?

by Admin 27. January 2015 09:34

How many times have Canadians been warned that interest rates will increase eventually? What a surprise when the Bank of Canada lowered the rate to 0.75%, a move that no economist had predicted.

 The big question is what does it mean for Canadian business? The first and most immediate effect was to weaken the dollar, which fell 1.5 cents following the Bank’s announcement to $0.81. Going forward, we’ll see even more pressure on the loonie. The market expects the U.S. Federal Reserve to start raising interest rates sometime in the second quarter of 2015. That’s not going to happen in Canada, and in fact, there is a slim chance that our rates could go even lower. As a result, investors will move out of Canadian securities towards the U.S., weakening the loonie even further.

In terms of the actual cost of business loans, we are unlikely to see much change. In normal times, the Bank of Canada’s official overnight rate provides a basis for the private sector banks’ prime rate. But when official rates get really low, this relationship breaks down. Banks have to cover their cost of funds—the amount they pay to borrow plus their administrative costs— which is higher than 0.75%. This means that banks probably won’t lower their prime rate; most will keep it at 3%. In the U.S., the prime rate is 3.25% even though the Fed’s official rate is near zero.

What about longer-term bonds? Those yields edged downwards, but these have been headed lower for a very long time. In fact, they’ve been trending downward for the past 15 years right across the developed world. According to the IMF, this is because emerging markets like China have accumulated huge amounts of reserves and as they keep buying rich country bonds, rates are held down. At the same time, market crises have pushed investors away from riskier assets into sovereign bonds, while uncertainty has depressed global business investment so there is little demand from borrowers competing for funds. The IMF believes that long-term interest rates will eventually return to the 3-4% range but not much higher.

Finally, last week’s rate cut speaks volumes about the Canadian economy. There has been a lot of speculation in the media that maybe lower oil prices could help keep Canada on balance if the negative impact on oil producers is offset by stronger manufacturing in Ontario and Quebec. The Bank clearly disagrees: Governor Poloz called low oil prices “unambiguously bad” for Canada. In fact, a lower loonie is good for some manufacturers, but the beneficial effects could take time to materialize, and consumers may not rush out and spend the money they save on gas.

Nevertheless, we believe oil prices will get back to the $60-$70 range by year-end. An accelerating U.S. economy combined with an 80-cent dollar will eventually boost our exports. Stronger economic growth is ahead, even if 2015 is a rough ride. And eventually, interest rates will rise. When we joke that interest rate warnings are like “the boy who cried wolf,” remember the moral of the story. The wolf eventually does show up (though not until the second quarter of 2016).

 

-Hendrik Brakel, CCC 

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