The Guelph Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Rogers Cable TV to moderate ward and mayoral debates again to prepare for the municipal election on October 27th. The venue will be the Council Chambers at City Hall. Rogers and the Guelph Chamber are providing these opportunities to ask questions and to be informed of candidate's positions. All debates will be replayed until the election, with dates and times to be announced on Rogers' website www.rogerstv.com.
Below is a schedule for Ward debates, to which we are inviting candidates and the public.
Ward 1 6pm - 7 pm (60 minute) 5 candidates
Ward 3 7:30pm - 9pm (90 minute) 6 candidates
Ward 2 6pm - 7pm (60 minutes) 5 Candidates
Ward 4 7:30pm - 9pm (90 minutes) 7 Candidates
Ward 6 6pm - 7pm (60 minutes) 5 candidates
Ward 5 7:30pm - 9pm (90 minutes) 6 Candidates
Thursday October 9
Mayoral Debate (6:00pm - 7:30pm)
Thanks to research by two students working with us this summer, one from the University of Guelph, and one from Centennial High School, we are "looking under the hood", to put together information in key areas identified in Guelph's 10 year economic development plan: Prosperity 2020.
1) Invest in Infrastructure (housing, buildings, roads, waste management, water, community energy, employment lands)
2) Reposition Guelph as a Premier Business Investment Location (financial performance, improve approval process, focus on common good, become known as "business friendly)
3) Focus Investment and Growth in Key Sectors (advanced manufacturing, agri-innovation, information and communications technology, Professional/Scientific/Technical Services, Arts and Culture)
4) Governance, Profile, and Reach (new partnerships, expand City brand, re-establish protocols)
5) Invest in Downtown (continue to build capacity, promote residential, eduction, ICT)
6) Invest in Tourism (new management, develop branding and marketing)
7) Invest in People and Ideas (workforce, Conestoga College presence, support creativity and innovation)
The Guelph Chamber will be working with the City of Guelph, University of Guelph, and other partners in Connect Guelph Wellington to present an Economic Summit on January 30, 2015. This will be Guelph's fifth Economic Summit since the launch of Prosperity 2020, at the half way mark of our community's 10 year economic development plan. Each year we look at progress achieved and plans for the year ahead. Thanks to our students, we are getting some great details to inform this year's discussions.
Updates will be posted in this blog in a series of 7 instalments, and will be included in this year's Connect Guelph Business Directory to be published in December.
As always, we invite your comments.
Guelph has become the centre of the solar system for Canada. This has come very close to home this summer, as my wife and I have had Guelph Solar Mechanical install an array of 40 solar panels on our home, made in Guelph by Canadian Solar with racking from Wurth. What is on our roof came from Guelph, was installed by a Guelph business, with a business plan reviewed by a Guelph accounting firm, engineering approval from Guelph, and a Guelph financial plannerhaving his firm backstopping the project. Each player in this collaboration has played a key role. At the end of the day, another business has been created in Guelph, as my wife’s energy company is selling power to Ontario. After 36 years of marriage I would never have thought a semi-retired nurse would become an entrepreneur, but here she is saving 25% of our property tax, recovering all of our internet charges, having her business pay for half of our new roof, and recovering all of the HST, financing, and accounting charges related to our project. When the system is paid for, the income generated from her solar business will be equivalent to the rest of our property tax plus a vacation. Our retirement plan just got a boost. At the end of our contract with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) our home will provide its own power.
The Guelph Community Energy Initiative has the goal of having the equivalent of 1000 homes in Guelph generating solar energy under the MicroFIT program offered by the OPA. This incentive pays the power producer a premium rate of $0.396/kWh for a 20 year contract. This is down from the initial offers, but so is the cost of installing a system, so the time to payback an investment has remained at about 8 years since the inception of the program in 2009. About 270 homes in Guelph have taken advantage of the program, based on this payback model. Over the next few years we are hoping to see another 700 home based businesses started in Guelph, selling solar power back to the province. Alex Chapman, manager of Guelph’s Community Energy Initiative says, “Once fully developed, 10% of Guelph’s power will come from solar production by 2031, which amounts to about 30MW. This compares with a provincial average of between 1% and 2% supply. Guelph is already the leading producer in Ontario.”
As with starting any business venture, there needs to be a thought out business plan that weighs the risk and investment with the possible returns. In this case, returns are pretty much known with a guaranteed price for the product (electricity), and the fact the sun will come up again tomorrow. How much sun is a variable, and Guelph Solar Mechanical has measuring instruments and computer models to predict the rate of production based on roof orientation, shade from trees, and historical weather patterns at the home’s GPS location. This summer has been a great one for those that went on the grid in January. “The first cheques from my garage roof blew away the numbers we were expecting”, said Arni Miklesons, already a local entrepreneur with website business Northern Village, who had a solar array installed in May. “It has been a great summer.” Production fluctuates from summer to winter, so the business income truly is seasonal like many businesses.
A surprise to our family business was the tax benefits of the project. Mark Colvin from BDO has been providing accounting advice for environmental projects in Guelph for several years. “When you consider the tax benefits accrued by having a home based business: recovery of property taxes, writing off interest charges, internet charges, upgrades needed to operate the business, and even accounting fees – solar installations make a lot of sense to many home owners. Ontario having provincial incentives makes it all the more feasible for home owners to set up shop.” Individual circumstances may be different so we recommend discussing your situation with an appropriate tax planning advisor.
John Wang, Financial Planner for RBC has set up lines of credit for these types of installations. “The monthly cheques from Guelph Hydro can be applied against the line of credit so cash flow for families is optimized. Many people do not think they can afford the installation, and are surprised at how easily financing can be put in place without affecting a household’s budget for groceries and music lessons.”
The last word goes to Steve Dyck, owner of Guelph Solar Mechanical. “I started our business out of my passion for protecting the environment. Now I am seeing solar family businesses are a great way to create more business activity in Guelph. People who would never consider themselves entrepreneurs are having a door opened to a new world for them.”
Guelph might one day have 1000 new small businesses in the energy sector. One of these businesses is already on my roof.
A recent Canadian Chamber of Commerce presentation featured David Foote, Canadian author of “Boom, Bust & Echo”, presenting the role demographics plays in understanding the past and predicting the future. Locally Sean Lyons from the University of Guelph’s business school has presented business people concerns of inter-generational differences and their impacts on workplace dynamics and managing people. A different economy has begun, led in part by changing demographics and differences within demographics. What does this mean for Guelph?
For the past two years following the recession we have seen declines in Guelph’s labour force. David Foote shows this has been expected, when you take into account the more top heavy Canadian demographic evolving. Few countries in the world follow the traditional pyramid shaped demographics, with a broad base of young people tapering to less people in the over 65 age group. This global phenomenon gives us a 20 year horizon on our population, its impact on education planning, city planning, health care, and business. The waves of 18 year old students entering post-secondary education will not be the same in the future. Housing needs will shift and health care will continue to take more of the provincial budget.
The impact of the shifting demographic is having an effect on business, with four generations now working together as people work later in life. The impact of knowledge leaving businesses as people retire is a growing concern, and we are hearing more and more about “succession planning”. Knowledge transfer in the global economy becomes very local when people with 40 years of experience decide to call it a day.
Where and how we get knowledge is also changing. Information has never been so available to so many people, and its volume is both accelerating and getting louder. Getting the right information from the clutter and noise is becoming another challenge. Through social media we are able to receive and give information by following people from around the world. Open education programs have been pioneered at the University of Guelph and are expanding at Conestoga College. Guelph now even has an on line high school. Getting information is one thing, building relationships is entirely different.
The Guelph Chamber of Commerce puts “social” into social media through the relationships we build in the community. Building social knowledge provides some of the wisdom that information alone cannot provide. Closing the knowledge gap is as much about knowing the people around you as learning the information you need to be successful. Guelph has always been strong on working together, or collaborating. Some of this comes from our size, and some from our social fabric. The pressure will be on us to continue our personal ties going forward as communications become more and more digital. A friend once said to me people are analogue, and we are creating a digital world. Very little around us conforms to the “1 or 0” world of digital design. Real creativity happens in the space between extremes.
The knowledge economy has begun on many levels, by connecting us to people around the world and giving us access to information. What information is right for the situation, and how to use it requires the social intelligence many generations before us developed by knowing the people on the other side of the communications. In the end the success of the knowledge economy hinges on how well our social and cultural connections are made. People will still deal with the people they know and trust, both here in Guelph or around the world.
Milestones Goals 2014-2015
The Guelph Chamber of Commerce recently achieved renewal of Accreditation With Distinction from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce based on work in the 5 pillars of accreditation over the past three years and our strategic plan for the next three years. Starting Q1 (July-Sept), the quarterly goals for each pillar in the coming year are highlighted below.
A. Governance of Board and Committees
Board of Directors
Workforce Development Committee
Energy Transition Committee
Membership and Marketing Committee
Industrial, Food and Agriculture Comittees: Continue to share best practices between businesses
B. Strategic Planning
D. Policy and Advocacy
E. Member services
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has announced Guelph has been awarded Accreditation with Distinction for the next 3 years, from 2015-2017. Accreditation with Distinction is the highest level of quality management systems for Chambers in Canada. Of the 150 Chambers of Commerce in Ontario, Guelph is one of 26 accredited Chambers, 21 of which meet all 5 levels of quality management: Member Services, Advocacy, Administration, Governance, and Strategic Planning.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce congratulates the following accredited Chambers in Ontario:
• Alliston and District Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2013-2015
• Brampton Board of Trade: Accredited with Distinction 2013-2015
• Brockville & District Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2014-2016
• Burlington Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2013-2015
• Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2012-2014
• Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2013-2015
• Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2012-2014
• Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2012-2014
• Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2014-2016
• Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2013-2015
• Guelph Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2012-2014
• Hamilton Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2014-2016
• London Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2013-2015
• Mississauga Board of Trade: Accredited with Distinction 2012-2014
• Oakville Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2013-2015
• Parry Sound Area Chamber of Commerce: Accredited 2013-2015
• Prince Edward County Chamber of Tourism and Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2013-2015
• Port Hope Chamber of Commerce: Accredited 2013-2015
• Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce: Accredited 2013-2015
• Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2012-2014
• St.Thomas and District Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2013-2015
• Smiths Falls & District Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2012-2014
• Tillsonburg Chamber of Commerce: Accredited 2013-2014
• Timmins Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2013-2015
• Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce: Accredited 2013-2015
• Whitby Chamber of Commerce: Accredited with Distinction 2013-2016
The Way We Market Has Now Changed.
The new CASL legislation went into effect on July 1st. As a business owner, do you understand the key elements of the legislation, how it impacts your digital marketing efforts and are you prepared.
It's certainly not too late! The Guelph Chamber of Commerce is hosting a seminar on Wednesday July 30th from 9am to 11am on the 3rd floor above our offices at 111 Farquhar.
Join us for this important interactive session as Javed S. Khan of Constant Contact covers:
The Guelph Chamber of Commerce Advocacy Committee is pleased to say construction Highway 7 is now scheduled to start in 2015. This will give Guelph labour mobility between us and Kitchener Waterloo to give us better access to more people for our employers. http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/highway-construction/southern-highway-2012/expansion-projects.shtml#s1
On other fronts:
“By signing on to the TPP, the federal government has taken an important leap toward securing Canada’s long-term strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region. Opening new markets is key to Canadian competitiveness,” said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “Canada’s market share in Asia is below potential and Canada has no full trade agreements with Asian countries yet. The TPP will provide enhanced access to a series of markets recognized as gaining importance in global trade and investment.”
The TPP has been an impressive exercise in multilateral negotiations since the first four member states signed their agreement in 2005. With the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations stalled, countries are quickly turning to bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) to foster trade and investment opportunities, many of which are in Asia.
“I congratulate Prime Minister Stephen Harper, International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Canadian government officials for their efforts over the past several months to ensure Canada’s formal entry to the TPP negotiations,” Mr. Beatty said.
The TPP is a trade agreement, under negotiation by 11 countries, which now includes Canada and Mexico. The other members are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. Canada’s formal entry into the negotiations follows the completion of domestic consultations, which all TPP members are required to undertake before approving new members.
With Canada and Mexico, the TPP market represents more than 658 million people and a combined GDP of $20.5 trillion.
In less than six years, Canada has concluded trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, Peru, and the European Free Trade Association member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Canada has also begun deepening trade and investment ties with the largest markets in the world, including the European Union, India and Japan.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce also looks toward developing global opportunities as an important part of the Ontario economy emerging stronger from the recent recession.
The 2012-2013 Pulse on Innovation Breakfast series begins on Thursday, September 27th, from 7:30 am to 9:00 am at the Delta Guelph Hotel and Conference Centre. Organized by the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, this series of five breakfasts will feature market leaders addressing topics which are critical to Food and Agriculture businesses, producers, and researchers in Ontario. The first in the series will lay the groundwork for discussion, with Stewart Cressman, Chair of the Agriculture Research Institute of Ontario, presenting the provincial innovation strategy. November’s breakfast will feature Martin Gooch, Director of the George Morris Centre’s Value Chain Management Centre. Mr. Gooch will be speaking about value chain innovation in the Agriculture and food industry, why it enables businesses to achieve unique and sustainable competitive strengths through reducing waste and utilizing resources more effectively. Going into 2013, the Breakfasts will include topics on food security (Lorne Hepworth, president, CropLife Canada) , innovation on the plant floor and attracting investment into food and agriculture.
Please contact the Guelph Chamber for more information, or to register for one or all of these breakfasts, either by phone 519-822-8081, or on the web at www.guelphchamber.com.