As my term as Chamber President comes to a close, I feel honoured to have served the membership through this very difficult time. It is disappointing that I wasn’t able to see you at events and connect with you in person as in previous years but hope that our regular communication helped you to know that we were continually thinking of you and your wellbeing.
The COVID-19 pandemic definitely turned 2020 on its end and forced all of us to adapt, reorganize and persevere through very challenging times. We can agree that when the pandemic began, we had no idea what to expect or what the implications would be for our businesses. The wave of information from all levels of government and local organizations was overwhelming and intimidating. This is where the Chamber staff rose to the challenge. I would specifically like to call out the dedication of Sherry Boyce-Found and staff who spent hundreds of hours attending online round table meetings, information sessions, and government updates to collect important information. Sherry and the staff dug through this information and organized and delivered it to us in a way that was easy to understand and utilize. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Lakefield ServiceOntario staff for their dedication and hard work during this challenging time. And a heartfelt congratulations to Deb Lowcock, our ServiceOntario Supervisor, who celebrated 30 years with the Chamber in 2020!
The Chamber was busy this year as we implemented ways to meet the challenge of COVID-19 and help local businesses. At the start of the pandemic, a COVID-19 Updates page was launched on the Chamber website, making it easier for businesses to find the information and resources they were looking for. To keep the public informed with the ever-changing levels of lockdown an Open/Closed List was created for local businesses to share their operating status. Staff also delivered weekly emails (twice a week at the height of COVID) and monthly e-newsletters to keep you up-to-date.
To help with online presence and to assist those without e-commerce capabilities an online gift card store, Virtual Main Street, was developed for members and non-members in Peterborough County. The community really turned out for this and used it as an opportunity to support local businesses. This year proved just how crucial it is to have an online presence, and the Chamber secured Digital Mainstreet funding to assist eligible businesses in Asphodel-Norwood, Curve Lake, Douro-Dummer, North Kawartha, Selwyn and Trent Lakes. The Chamber continued to generate awareness of our members on social media and experienced a tremendous reach of over 8,500 with the Kudos Kawartha Business campaign.
For those members who experienced extreme hardship, the Chamber offered alternatives for dues payment so these businesses could continue to receive membership benefits at such a critical time. And I’m pleased to say that the Board has approved to maintain the 2020 dues rates for 2021.
I have been on the Chamber Board for 8 years now and am continually impressed and thankful for our hardworking and dedicated Board of Directors. This group of individuals from all sizes and types of businesses applies their knowledge and experience to make the Chamber as successful as it is.
Finally, I want to thank all of our members who have made it through this year, no doubt with a few more grey hairs, but still moving forward and looking ahead to better times. I am continually inspired by our community and how it has come together to support and raise each other up. We are lucky to live in not only a beautiful area with lots of space and nature to explore but in an area where small-town ethics and morals prevail.
We all deserve a pat on the back and a big hug. Here’s to a better 2021!
2020/21 Board President