2021 Chamber President's Message

Dear Members and Community,

To say that 2020 was unprecedented in its challenges would be an understatement. Businesses across the B.C. North Peace region faced a unique situation never seen. The uncertainty for business in 2020 brought challenges, but also opportunity. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a crisis for many businesses. Most organizations pivoted by restructuring. An influx of Federal and Provincial funding programs has allowed many businesses to survive and made 2020 a year for the history books.

Now more than ever, the business community needs to support each other to forge through these unprecedented times. Being socially responsible has caused financial hardship and been the price to pay to ensure that our community stays safe. Industry guidance for our natural resource sectors to protect the health and safety of workers and nearby communities came comparatively swiftly, bringing many of that workforce back online. However, supports to the severely impacted hospitality, tourism, arts and entertainment industry remain to be seen.

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As soon as the extent of the Covid-19 situation become apparent, our Chamber Executive Director, Cheryl Montgomery, pivoted to a virtual platform, creating the Business Roundtables to provide timely Covid related resources and updates. The Chamber also hosted the annual Small Business Week, “Boost Your Biz”, a three-day virtual conference, dedicated to supporting businesses with valuable resources, such as available funding earmarked for recovery and resiliency, and information critical to reopening and safe work practices.

BCMindreader.com, continues to collect insight with over 3000 members. It continually compiles feedback on critical topics affecting the businesses across the province. This is a powerful tool in gauging the impact and progression that Covid-19 has on the business community; Chambers across the province became the first line of information for our Provincial Government in the decision-making processes that included 100% PST rebates when purchasing equipment, the postponement of the minimum wage increase, the delay of the Temporary Layoff Provision from 12-24 weeks, as well as providing resources like the Resiliency to Thrive training program, the Small and Medium-size Business Recovery Grant, among other valuable tools for businesses.

It is our priority to continually drive value for our membership and work with members to identify their concerns and challenges, so our voice in the region, can advocate to government and policy makers effectively for the local business community. With the input from businesses, our Chamber network will continue to work with our Provincial policymakers to reduce barriers and provide incentives for business creation and stability.

This past year has proven that our business community is remarkably resilient in the face for adversity. We will carry that momentum into 2021. I look forward to you joining me in continuing to make the Fort St. John and District Chamber of Commerce the key voice of the B.C. North Peace region’s business community.

Chuck Fowler is President of the Fort St. John and District Chamber of Commerce.

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