Looking Back on my Year as Chair

Looking Back on my Year as Chair

< Back to Articles | Topics: Chair's Message

As I wrap up my year as Chair of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce board, sitting in my home office during the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, I would have never guessed we would have moved to working remotely, meeting as a board via Zoom, and to have such immeasurable changes to our lives and economy. Throughout the last weeks, I’ve been consistently impressed with the flexibility of people to adapt to these new conditions. In this environment, the Chamber has undertaken some integral advocacy work, spearheading the Nova Scotia Business Labour Economic Coalition (NSBLEC), providing immediate access to policy makers as programs and supports are developed, along with countless other resources the Chamber has made available to members.

In one recent meeting of this NSBLEC group, Minister Melanie Joly stated that “Chambers have never been more important than they are today,” and in my year as Chair, I have witnessed this being true.

As Chair, I had the privilege to be involved in so many amazing events and initiatives, from the new Trade Accelerator Program, aimed at helping businesses to grow through export, to supporting local businesses in small business week, to the huge number of events – large and small – connecting members to speakers and information that will help this city to grow and prosper.

The Chamber’s diversity and inclusion initiatives is one area I’ve been very proud to be involved in, including co-hosting many breakfast meetings to discuss this topic, along with our new board member, Ann Divine. As a diverse group, we discussed ways to ensure the organization is more inclusive of the variety of communities in Halifax, and how we can better demonstrate diversity of underrepresented groups in our events and policies. As a Chamber, we have undertaken initiatives to think about accessibility, working on ways to ensure working-age adults with a disability are able to find jobs with businesses hungry to find labour.

I will continue to advocate for a diversity, to ensure we have more representation on boards and in leadership, including African Nova Scotians, women, Indigenous peoples, immigrants, and people with disabilities.

Outside of the current situation, it was a big year for advocacy as well, with the Halifax Chamber and the Canadian Global Cities Council advocating for better conditions for Canadian businesses ahead of the 2019 federal election. The groups released playbooks detailing the necessary changes to our largest industries to increase our GDP.

One of my other main goals as Chair of the Board was to find new ways to engage our diverse membership. I am happy to report, through partnerships and recruitment efforts, it’s been a successful year.

Under this board’s leadership, focusing on membership and new initiatives, we’ve seen measurable successes at the Halifax Chamber. Our Member Health Index reports high retention rates, more new members, sold-out events (at least until March!), lots of interest in the task forces, and higher than ever engagement in our advocacy efforts, events, and membership.

These are encouraging results, and it’s heartening to know our members are seeing the value in their Chamber. But we know there’s more work to be done to ensure Halifax grows and prospers. I look forward to seeing how the Chamber’s vital work continues, under Gavin MacDonald’s leadership in the coming year.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Chair's Message

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