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As 2016 draws to a close, it is rewarding to look back over the year of Chamber accomplishments while contemplating projects for the year ahead.

During our more than 50 networking events in the past year, we have connected with hundreds of our members and their staff, as well as carrying on with one-on-one visits at business locations.

It is through these direct connections that we learn about the key issues and challenges impacting business as well as gaining better insight into the products and services available in our member businesses and listening to their success stories.

This is extremely valuable information for us. It enables us to act in the best interest of our membership advocating on their behalf at all levels of government, but also to support them in gaining solid information on issues impacting their bottom lines.

The speakers and topics we have chosen to showcase at our events during the past year are a reflection of the feedback we have received from our membership. Our lunch and learns brought information to the membership about physician recruitment, branding, changing the local narrative to share positive stories, marketing, red tape reduction, the power of community engagement, business-university partnership programs, economic impact of the forestry industry, economics of health and tourism.

Along with those informative events, we hosted several political events such as a meet and greet for Colchester County’s new CAO Rob Simonds, the annual Chief and mayor’s breakfast and welcomed Business Minister Mark Furey and Treasury Board President Scott Brison to speak with our members. During the municipal election in September we held three meet and greets for mayoral candidates and councillors running for seats in Stewiacke, Truro and Colchester.

In September we launched the TD Business Builders Series, which will continue until June of 2017, providing expertise on a wide range of topics offered by experts from within our membership.

The Chamber introduced two new fundraising events, which will be held again next year along with our traditional offerings, a curling bonspiel (Jan. 27, 2017) and a lobster and steak kitchen party (May 31, 2017), as well as its fun golf tournament (Sept. 29, 2017) and Fall Flavours event (Sept. 23, 2017) supported by more than a dozen local chefs preparing some of the best food Colchester has to offer.

Through our marquee awards presented at our Annual Dinner Gala in April (April 27, 2017) and our Small Business Week Awards in October (Oct. 18, 2017), we recognized nine outstanding businesses and business leaders in Colchester County. We are proud to acknowledge the accomplishments of these entrepreneurs and managers who earned the respect and admiration of their peers recognized through the submission of quality nominations.

In 2016, the Chamber hosted five roundtables on topics of litter, tax reform, government regulation, CN service and education. These meetings connected the business community and stakeholders directly with people tasked with advancing these files. Throughout the entire year the Chamber continued to foster relationships with all stakeholders to positively influence business in the community.

In June, the Chamber hosted a rally in support of economic development promoting the creation of a partnership for economic prosperity. During the following months, the Chamber has continued to work with local municipalities and Millbrook First Nation, moving forward with plans to launch a three-year pilot project in April 2017 addressing business development needs such as marketing and promotion of the region, business supports including a county-wide business retention and expansion program and sector development.

The Chamber supported youth in the community this year by campaigning to raise more than $11,000 to build a “hot lab” inside CEC to increase hands-on welding and other trades training for students.

The Chamber also established a working committee to address youth engagement, retention and investment. During the next few months, the group will explore several ways to attract and retain youth in the region.

The Chamber has been actively supporting tourism in the region in 2016 and will continue into 2017.

Following the demise of the former Central Nova Tourist Association in March 2016, the Chamber established the Colchester-Cumberland Tourism Committee with support from municipal partners and, local business, along with Chambers and a board of trade in Cumberland County. Committee accomplishments to date: Administered provincial funds to eight Visitor Information Centres in Central Nova Scotia; produced a series of “Top 10” rack cards highlighting local attractions in Truro and area, North Shore, Fundy Shore west and South Colchester; developed a draft plan considering options for regional marketing; and contracted a part-time employee to market the region online, assist VIC’s with information requests, and organize key events such as the two-week long Nova Scotia Wild Blueberry Festival.

A strategic planning was hosted by the Chamber in September to identify priorities for the next three years. It is the Chamber vision that the Colchester business community is collaborative, connected and thriving.

Acting in the best interest of our members we are your voice on matters of economic, social and political impact; we are committed to business growth in our community.

We look forward to connecting with our members in 2017 and welcome your valuable input on all issues impacting business in this region.

For more information about the Chamber call our office at 902-895-6328 or email ed@tcchamber.ca

Sherry Martell is the executive director of the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at 902-895-6328 or by email ed@tcchamber.ca.

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Many accomplishments for the Chamber in 2016

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By Sherry Martell

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR