It is a pleasure to be your Chair for this upcoming Chamber year. I want to take a few moments to introduce myself for those of you who don’t know me. Aside from a short period in Victoria for law school, I’ve been in Nanaimo for most of the last 15 years. I’m a lawyer with Johnston Franklin Bishop, and I’ve been involved with the Chamber for several years now, first sitting on our Successful Cities Committee before becoming a Director, then Vice-Chair, and now Chair.

The reason I’ve been involved in the Chamber is that I firmly believe that a community is only as strong as the businesses that operate in it, and that is especially true in a community like ours, where the vast majority of business licences issued are to sole proprietors and small partnerships. In other words, our business community IS our arts community, and our social network, and our neighbours, and in many cases, our family.

From the mom-and-pop shops who return their hard-earned money into the local economy to the large-scale operations who donate year after year in support of social or arts and culture events, we need a strong and involved business community because that is the engine that keeps a city vibrant and successful.

By the same token, a Chamber of Commerce is only as strong as the members that make it up. Your board of directors is selected from and by you – to represent you.

At each Chamber Luncheon I will ask the Board of Directors to stand so you can put a face to their names – and that is because these people are here for you. The same goes for our hard-working staff, and our wonderful volunteer Chamber ambassadors. If you are out in the community and you see something in the course of your business that you think the Chamber can help with, I encourage you to reach out to any one of us and let us know.

We are only a small group and can’t be everywhere at once – you are the eyes and ears of our organization, so please never be shy about reaching out. It’s our job, and our commitment to you.