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Feb 13, 2015

Chamber of Commerce Week

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.