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Travel, Awards, Best Business Practices - Fall is Underway

by Admin 29. September 2015 07:59

We all say September 1 is the real start of the new year, and 2015 is no exception. Our tremendous staff at the Kelowna Chamber worked away during August to ensure all our September events filled up and shone; here we are staring October in the face, with an already impressive number of events behind us. Lots more to come.

Today I am NOT writing about the economy. I am going to focus on our immediate successes and near-field challenges in our run-up to wintertime.

September saw the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce succeed in the Canadian national “Chambers Competition”. We see taking part in this program as a way to join our collegial chambers as we all promote and share best practices. Along the way, being recognized for excellent work gives recognition to our staff, to our Board, and our Chamber members.

Standing out from our competitors and colleagues means more members want to join our organization, and to form partnerships with us. I am delighted to announce that the Kelowna Chamber was a national winner this year, and one of our rewards is a complimentary registration to the 2016 Canadian Chamber's annual meeting (Regina). We also will be making a presentation on our local work, as part of the award, to our colleagues at this year’s annual meeting in Ottawa. We are honoured!

At the same time (September, of course) we took part in the well-organized and well-executed CCEC (Chamber of Commerce Executives, BC) annual meeting hosted by the Greater Westside Board of Trade. Their Karen Beaubierdid a terrific job welcoming and organizing all and everyone. Our very own Allison Conroy, Communications Coordinator, won the 2015 Newsletter-Communication Award for Chambers of 500+ members. Allison does a stellar job, week in, week out, with our social media, and especially our electronic newsletter and our website. We are terrifically happy for Allison, and salute her hard, and creative work.

I mentioned travel – that is part of our September smorgasbord of work, as well. The Canadian Chamber has set up a Gateway to Asia Tour, which will give several of us a front row seat to look at the policies and realities of our resource sector and export infrastructure.

From September 29 to October 1, I will take part in meetings, presentations and tours in Vancouver, Prince Rupert and Kitimat. I am privileged to have been chosen to take part in learning more about the growing economies of Asia and how BC’s export infrastructure is playing an increasingly key role in our country’s ability to diversify our export markets, while creating economic ties to our region. Like so many of our business members, I want to see future economic growth in our valley as a result of these initiatives. Being chosen for this bursary and learning experience is very important to me and to our Chamber.

Working with our many partners continues to enrich our activities and our ability to reach our members. Chambers throughout the Central Okanagan are coming together with other business stakeholders on a regional initiative – the Central Okanagan Business Walk. This 4th Annual Business Walk, powered by the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission (COEDC), sees more than 60 business leaders in the Central Okanagan volunteer their time for the morning to conduct conversational surveys with up to 400 businesses. Businesses are asked about their business environment and what they need to thrive. The results of the 2015 Business Walk will made available by the end of October. The COEDC hosts two smaller walks spring and fall, focusing on human resources issues for manufacturers and tourism, as well. All provide timely information for our members.

We continue to work with our growing list of members businesses on many fronts; hosting our 28th annual Business Excellence Awards in October; hosting a federal candidates forum in addition to multiple events every week to serve our wide range of member interests; and just generally, staying thoroughly and completely involved in the business life of our community. A full slate, and we are grateful for the opportunities to enrich our members’ business lives.



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Canada's Budget Surplus as the Holy Grail

by Admin 23. September 2015 09:18
Never in Canadian history has such an abstruse issue of public finance so dominated the election campaign. 

Even before the government announced a $1.9-billion surplus for 2014-2015, each party was using the issue as a powerful symbol. 

The NDP emphasize their commitment to running a balanced budget as a way of showing responsibility and seriousness (and they're willing to raise taxes to do it.) The Liberals are skeptical the surplus exists at all, saying it depends on gimmicks, like the sale of GM shares, and they promise three years of deficits to show they care more about the economy. But for the Conservatives, the surplus is everything; the key to their re-election strategy. 

It's difficult to claim you're a great economic manager in the midst of a recession, but a surplus shows you're at least doing something right. The government has struggled mightily to balance the budget. When it cut the GST by 2% starting in 2006, a $14-billion hole was left in the budget, and it took years of tough spending cuts to return to balance. Then in 2009, the global economy fell into the worst recession since the 1930s, and the G-7 leaders agreed that fiscal stimulus was needed. The government was dragged, reluctantly, into spending vast sums, $35 billion, to stimulate the economy. Since then, it has been in cost control mode --freezing staffing levels and squeezing departmental budgets. 

The surplus is a great achievement, but it may not be the ideal medicine right now. If you believe the Bank of Canada's claim that the economy is so 'atrocious' that it requires the stimulus of two interest rate cuts, then it's strange that the government would be simultaneously pulling money out of the economy by running surpluses. 

Fiscal and monetary policies are now pulling in opposite directions. Whoever is in power will find it difficult to balance the budget next year. In July, Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer projected that the $1.9-billion surplus would actually become a deficit of $1.5 billion-and that was before Canada went into recession. If we take the government's own budget assumptions, that every 1% decline in real GDP represents a $4.1- billion hit to the bottom line, and we apply a more realistic GDP growth number of 0.7%, Canada should end up with a deficit of $3 billion in 2015-2016. But this would be a tiny rounding error on the $290-billion budget and just 0.15% of GDP, far below Europe (2.9%) and the U.S. (2.8%). 
As long as Canada's nominal GDP growth is 3-4% and the deficit remains comfortably below that, then debt-to-GDP will shrink over time. And right now, the government can borrow 10-year money at the ultra-low rate of 1.44%. 

At the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and the national level, we have always advocated for balanced budgets because we worry deficits will grow and swell whenever governments stop worrying about them. 

Senior Director, Hendrik Brakel, heads up the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Economic, Financial & Tax Policy area. His thoughtful insights state that, "Canadian businesses also need the infrastructure to get their products to world markets. They need technology and the most highly skilled workers in the world. They need access to capital, particularly for fast-growing startups." 

The point is that a surplus shouldn't be the Holy Grail, so long as budgets are balanced over the medium term. We also need to make some smart investments, because thriving companies and their employees pay many of the taxes.

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Clean Drinking Water a Concern in Kelowna

by Admin 15. September 2015 07:48

Kelowna City Council outlined priorities yesterday that will guide city operations through to 2018 and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce was very pleased to see clean drinking water on the top of the priority list.

Our residents and businesses deserve consistent quality assurance that the water they consume meets or exceeds Canadian standards.  We commend the irrigation districts that are committed to work with the City to ensure one system, with multiple water sources that will protect and meet the needs of our growing community in the most cost effective way.

“Council’s highest priority is clean drinking water,” said Mayor Basran. “Approximately 21 public and private water utilities deliver drinking water of varying quality and rates to Kelowna residents. The City wants to work with the Province and Irrigation Districts to develop a long-term plan that leads to an integrated and resilient water system that delivers clean drinking water to all citizens at equitable rates and offers a sustainable water supply for agriculturists. We also want a system that can respond to impacts resulting from climate change and changing regulations.

We have been an active participant working with City staff and Council on issues relating to a safe and welcoming community for business and residents. As the voice of business, the Chamber looks forward to bringing our members thoughts to Council on clean drinking water, building vibrant urban centres, ensuring a healthy, safe, active & inclusive community, delivering a balanced transportation network, acting as a catalyst for business and providing strong financial management

For more information and a list of Council priority projects, check out the Council focus document and quick-reference one-pager at under Council Priorities.



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Business Excellence Award Finalists Announced!

by Admin 11. September 2015 08:35
Thirty-five finalists will be honoured at the 28th Annual Business Excellence Awards on October 21st at the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort where eleven category recipients will be announced, along with the Business Leader of the Year recipient.

Presented by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and Platinum Sponsors the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP, the popular Kelowna event is part of the annual Small Business Week® activities (October 18-24, 2015).
"As we celebrate the 28th anniversary of the Business Excellence Awards and recognize this talented group of entrepreneurs, we are impressed with the depth and breadth of Kelowna's dynamic business community," says Caroline Grover, CEO for the Kelowna Chamber. "We are equally inspired by the innovation and tenacity demonstrated by the finalists and their companies."
The Business Excellence Awards program celebrates achievement in our business community with finalists in each category selected from a wide group of nominations. The panel of judges visits all of the finalists and will judge them on the growth and development of their business, customer service, employee relations and community service.
The Business Excellence Finalists for 2015:


  • Cottage Quilting Ltd.
  • Express Employment Professionals
  • Float Space
Sponsored by: FortisBC
MICRO BUSINESS AWARD (1-3 employees)

  • CareSmart Seniors Consulting
  • Magnetix Matchmaking
  • Meadow Vista Honey Wines
Sponsored by: Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board
SMALL BUSINESS AWARD (4-15 employees)

  • Bellamy Homes
  • Giobean - Coffee the Italian Way
  • Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery
Sponsored by: Prospera Credit Union
MID-SIZE BUSINESS AWARD (16-50 employees)
  • Ecora Engineering & Resource Group
  • Edgecombe Builders Group
  • SK Form & Finish Inc.
  • Yeti Farm Creative
Sponsored by: BDO Canada LLP

  • Arion Therapeutic Farm
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Open For Change
Sponsored by: Urban Systems Ltd.

  • AJ Hazzi, Vantage West Realty Inc.
  • Yuriko Larson, Vintage Origami
  • Shane Pizzey, Aspire Health & Performance
Sponsored by: Accelerate Okanagan
  • 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
  • St. Hubertus Estate Winery
  • Summerhill Pyramid Winery
Sponsored by: Interior Savings Credit Union

  • BC
  • Hotel Eldorado
  • Urban Distilleries
Sponsored by: Tourism Kelowna

  • marketer inc.
  • Smart Betty Media
  • McManus Marketing & Communications
Sponsored by: Pushor Mitchell LLP

  • QHR Technologies Inc.
  • QuestUpon
Sponsored by: UBC Okanagan
LARGE BUSINESS AWARD (51+ employees)

  • BigSteelBox Corporation
  • Emil Anderson Construction
  • KF Aerospace
  • Sun-Rype Products Ltd.
Sponsored by:Grant Thornton LLP
The recipient of the prestigious Business Leader of the Year award sponsored by MNP LLPwill be announced prior to the Awards dinner.
Ticket Prices: Early bird price $100.00 plus GST to 4 pm Oct. 9. After that date, ticket prices are $125 plus GST. Ticket sales will close at 4 pm Oct. 16.  Click here to reserve your seats for this popular event!
About the Business Excellence Awards
The Business Excellence Awards are an annual ceremony that celebrates outstanding business success in Kelowna and surrounding area. Since their birth in 1987, 200 awards have gone to well deserving businesses. 
Each year, nominations are received for the business and individual awards from across the valley. 
Once nominations close, we throw a party in their honour and the nominees are provided a detailed nomination package to complete.
Completed packages are then reviewed by an experienced group of judges by which a group of finalists are selected. We then host a second party for all those nominees who submitted packages to become semi-finalists, at which we announce the finalists!
The finalists are then visited in-person by appointment at their place of business by the judges in September.
The finalists are profiled during the Business Excellence Awards ceremony during Small Business Week in October and the recipients are announced that evening.
Both the finalists and the award recipients receive valuable publicity before, during and after the event. The employees of these companies also feel a sense of pride in their employer.

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Federal Candidate Business-Focused Q & A

by Admin 31. August 2015 14:05
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:
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.

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How to Find Time for Social Media

by Admin 26. August 2015 16:35

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.


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 

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

by Admin 19. August 2015 16:22

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

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August Update @ The Chamber

by Admin 13. August 2015 13:55

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.

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Mark this Date on your Calendar as a Landmark for Canadian Businesses

by Admin 5. August 2015 08:36

When Canadians go to the polls on Monday October 19, some results from this summer’s two major economic earthquakes will be known to us. Or at least, more clear.

Greece: Is it still in the Euro community after the July emergency meetings? Did August see it go back to drachmas and a more local economy? It is currently insolvent with 26 per cent unemployment, and a debt to GDP ratio of 180 per cent, despite the last-hour agreement with the EEC in mid-July.

China: shares have dropped more than 30 per cent since June. US$340 billion has been lent out by brokers for stock purchases, and the downturn is forcing shareholders to sell to cover losses. Share prices would be even lower except the government halted trading in 1,300 companies and directed state-owned financial institutions to buy shares.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce recognizes that many factors are contributing to uncertainty in the economic landscape, at home and abroad.

BC’s economy continues to be robust compared to many other jurisdictions in Canada. But we need to strengthen both it, and our Canadian economy, and to this end, the Canadian Chamber is calling on all federal candidates to take action with practical solutions in four areas: Access to a powerful workforce, Access to capital, Access to technology and innovation and Access to markets.

Federal parties must make it an essential to invest in transportation infrastructure, strengthen export and international tourism promotion services, tackle internal trade barriers, and streamline regulatory processes around natural resources.

We are committed to competing – and winning. We must invest in our local economy, and invest in our young people. Here at the Kelowna Chamber, we have now spent one full year introducing new, remarkably far-reaching innovative programs to entice, and retain, young people as they emerge from education into their business lives right here in the central Okanagan.

Developing local wealth and opportunities means we can pay for new technologies here at home, and produce income streams to pay for the education, infrastructure, health care and other advantages valued by Canadians.

The upcoming election is a unique opportunity to shape a Canada that is stronger, more economically stable and more competitive. A Canada that wins.

Potential leaders will have to explain how they will make Canada work between now and October 19. We’re helping that process by hosting a Federal Candidates Roundtable Breakfast September 25, which will air on valley radio and be well-attended by our members, who will arrive questions in hand.

We’ll all have questions; it will be an enlightening exercise in democracy to hear the answers. And to know how our candidates are planning to repair the economic cracks that continue to appear world-wide, especially in Greece and China, but most importantly, here at home.


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Export Revolution: When Zero Is Actually Pretty Good

by Admin 31. July 2015 08:13

Economic weakness abounds! The country is in recession and exports are “stalled” according to the Bank of Canada. But if you dig into the numbers, something bigger is happening.

The first five months of export data show a huge 31% decline in oil, with natural gas falling 40%, a devastating hit to Canadian exports. The big question is whether the positive effects of a weaker dollar and a stronger U.S. economy can make enough of a difference. Skeptics remain doubtful about whether our exporters have enough capacity for a big increase in production: there are no state-of-the-art Canadian factories waiting for the lights to be turned on.

One of the most optimistic forecasts for 2015 came from our friends at Export Development Canada. Their forecast for 2015 export growth was... zero. A big goose egg.

Actually, this was a cheery forecast because they were essentially saying that Canada’s non-energy exports, such as manufactured goods, technology, services and agriculture, would be strong enough to offset the huge, gaping hole from the decline in energy sales.

So far, it looks like EDC is right. Canada’s export manufacturers have ramped up production and are in overdrive. The strongest contributor to growth is the automotive sector, rising 9% this year thanks to a resurgent U.S. economy. American auto sales hit 17.4 million vehicles, record levels not seen in 15 years, as our members in the auto sector are struggling to keep up with demand.

And it’s not just autos; exports of machinery and equipment are up 9%, electronic equipment up 15%, aircraft up a staggering 33%. Services will gain 5% this year thanks to a new rising star: tourism. So, does this make up for the huge decline in energy?

Not quite. So far in 2015, exports are down 1.3%. But if we see greater strength in the second half, as we expect from a U.S. economy that is firing on all cylinders, then Canada’s exports might even get to modest growth.

This means we are in the midst of a very strange recession. Ontario, Québec, B.C. and Manitoba are all set to grow at a healthy 2% range, with solid export growth across-the-board. Only Alberta and Newfoundland will see GDP contracting this year by around 1% and exports tumbling by 15% or more. Canada overall will see GDP rise by just 1% in 2015.

The big challenge is that growth will get harder from here. With a soft domestic economy, we’re increasingly dependent on exports. Thanks to weak commodity prices, further export gains can only come from rising productivity, world-leading technology and innovation. We need a comprehensive plan to improve competitiveness so that Canadian companies can win.


-Hendrik Brakel, CCC 

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