'Everything aligning' for Ottawa's economy, new chamber chair says

As a partner in a successful financial services company, Marie Boivin knows firsthand the challenges entrepreneurs face each day.

The newest chair of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce hopes to use that experience to help the organization’s more than 700 members get the most out of the capital’s largest business advocacy group – no matter what sector of the economy they represent.

“I want the value that the chamber brings to business to be clear,” the CEO of Accu-Rate Corporation said in an interview with OBJ on Friday morning, the day after she was sworn in as chair.

“If you want to grow a business, we can connect you to the proper (supports). There is more to Ottawa than innovation. There’s a really broad landscape of various industries.”

An OBJ Forty Under 40 recipient in 2009, Ms. Boivin has run her company for more than 15 years and has been a member of the chamber’s board of directors since 2010.

She said one of her top priorities as chair will be to encourage more co-operation among various local business groups and economic agencies, including Invest Ottawa and the region’s other chambers of commerce.

“In order to create an environment that fosters true potential growth for businesses, we need to have a stronger voice to represent the entire community,” she said. “We need to engage in a deeper way with the various stakeholders. The more we work together, obviously the stronger we get.”

Ms. Boivin also hopes to spread the word about the benefits of being a chamber member – for example, preferred rates on items including group and home insurance as well as discounts on business tools such as the Better Software Company’s locally produced scheduling, billing, reporting and analytics platform.

All of the region's chambers of commerce are vital advocacy organizations that provide key services, and it’s important for Ottawa businesses to support them, she added.

“Every business in Ottawa should be a member of their chamber of commerce,” Ms. Boivin said.

The Women’s Business Network Businesswoman of the Year nominee in 2015 said she’s looking forward to working with chamber CEO Ian Faris and new vice-chair Ian Sherman, a partner at EY’s Ottawa office.

“He’s very strong in advocacy,” Ms. Boivin, whose term runs for one year with an option for a second, said of Mr. Faris. “He’s extraordinarily connected.”

The chamber’s first female chair in a decade, Ms. Boivin assumes the role at a time when the local economy appears to be gaining steam.

The new Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards, the pending arrival of light rail, major real estate projects such as Zibi and the planned redevelopment of LeBreton Flats and the anticipated spike in tourists expected next year for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations all have the new chair feeling good about where the city is headed.

“I’m so excited,” she said. “Ottawa is a happening place. It’s the perfect storm. Everything is aligning. We just have to keep working. We have to work together so that we keep momentum rolling.”