KELOWNA - At Chambers across Canada, October’s Small Business Week was a cause to celebrate. Small business; business excellence; achievements by entrepreneurs, start-ups, and long-time supporters of all things business in communities.
Kelowna is no exception, and we celebrated our own best and brightest at the Delta Grand October 12. Our long-time Platinum sponsors Farris Vaughan Wills & Murphy LLP, and the Business Development Bank of Canada helped us host the event for almost 400 guests in style. Ten awards, a three-course dinner, a VIP pre-reception, and on-time performance with everything wrapped up by 9:30!
Business Excellence Winners for 2017 featured:
Current Taxi’s Dale Conway, owner, has only been in business for eight months, but already boasts a doubled-in-size fleet of $100,000 Teslas. “We’re BC’s first and only all-electric fleet,” says Conway. “We’re humbled to be recognized by the Chamber after such a short time behind the wheel.”
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Okanagan College is stepping up to the plate and helping fledgling pilots get their training off the ground. It’s not inexpensive becoming a licensed pilot: OC estimates about $59,000 for tuition and flight training fees. Previously, students had to have a private pilot’s license just to enroll in the program.
OC has turned this around, and incorporated initial flight training into their program – using aircraft and training through the Southern Interior Flight School. Students graduate ready for careers in commercial aviation, with two years of business course training, along with Transport Canada flight certificates. OC currently has a ‘right seat’ training program with Air Canada/Jazz, in which graduates go straight to the right-seat (co-pilot) for the regional carrier.
This aggressive program will help with current international pilot shortage which is starting to impact Kelowna. YLW Airport Manager Sam Samaddar said in mid-October that the global shortage is hitting them with Horizon Air cancellations.
“And not just Horizon, but affecting the smaller carriers.” Why? Retirement of baby boomer pilots from larger airlines; pilots from regional carriers being head-hunted by the “big boys” creating shortages on feeder airlines.
Horizon cancelled hundreds of flights across its network this summer, as has Europe’s Ryanair. And while Ryanair’s owners insist they don’t have a shortage, it’s fact that 140 of their pilots switched to Norwegian earlier in 2017, and a large number to Jet2.
It is an issue in Kelowna when passengers miss critical connections through Seattle to international flights, vacation holidays, or business connections. It’s likely to get worse unless a combination of pilot training and the skilled foreign worker program step up to the plate. And it can affect any of us, any time we’re flying locally or internationally. The bigger the carrier, so far, the smaller the problem. Time will tell.
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In this column in October our Chamber called for an extended consultation period on the proposed federal tax legislation. October 2 has now come and gone, Finance Minister Morneau said “absolutely not” to extending the input, but the pushback from Chamber members continues unabated.
Throughout the week of October 16, new announcements from Ottawa were made which some media characterized as a ‘major climbdown’ by Prime Minister Trudeau and his party on the legislation.
However, introducing the previously touted corporate tax cut, and trickle-feeding minor, undetailed changes to the proposed legislation, at this point in the conversation, won’t be enough to satisfy business owners and entrepreneurs who need tax planning clarity, and need it long before the start of a new tax year.
We continue to watch closely, and to speak up on behalf of our members. More than 21,000 submissions were received by the Department of Finance in advance of the October 2 deadline. That’s 1.2 person-years of eight-hour days to spend ten minutes reviewing each one.
The Kelowna Chamber has been vocal, specific, detailed, and relentless in battling for its members’ right to clear information, fair taxation treatment, accurate characterization “not tax cheats” and be seen as the oft-repeated backbone of Canadian prosperity which they are.
Members have been contacting our Chamber daily, clarifying that they plan to cut staff, reduce cash infusions into their businesses, are planning to move the business out of Canada, and are bombarding their MPs with messages. Having mentioned MPs, I should say that Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr Kelowna-Lake Country has worked hard at keeping the Chamber and its members informed as changes and information continues to roll out of Ottawa. Stay tuned.
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Last but actually of greatest importance to us, I’d like to welcome our new members who have just joined the Kelowna Chamber: Proxime; LifeSciences BC; MasterWorks Coaching Group Inc.; Terra West Environmental Inc.; Mark Chiu Family & Immigration Law; Cutting Edge Concepts; Geord Holland Law Group; MTL Foods/MontREAL Foods; Nurse Next Door Home Care Services; Revolution 3D Printers; SIRKit Ltd.; Boutique Esthetics Lounge Ltd.; PacificSport Okanagan; Okanagan Power Equipment Ltd.; Epic Real Estate Solutions Inc.; ACRO MEDIA Inc.; Sheri-Lee Voight Life Coach & Fitness; Cerulean Medical Institute; Bliss Bakery & Bistro; Boyd Autobody & Glass and Touchstone Law (upgrade).