Level up. Now is the time.

Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by the Ottawa Board of Trade

On September 29, 2021, the Ottawa Board of Trade hosted its 164th annual general meeting. This was a great opportunity to review the work of the board, elect new leaders, and share the path forward. It was also a chance to express deep appreciation to the members, volunteers, economic partners, and community leaders who have worked together so well this last year.

We began 2020 with big plans to deliver on the promise that motivated our members to support the consolidation of the Ottawa Chambers of Commerce in 2018. Although the work itself shifted to respond to the pandemic, the outcome was a promise kept – a stronger voice of business in Ottawa.

How did we strengthen the voice of business?

  • From the beginning we followed the lead of the highest level of government and health officials, working remotely, pivoting our events and programs to virtual, sharing key information with our business community and providing feedback to decision makers.
  • We conducted and participated in countless meetings with business leaders and decision makers, fully leveraging the influence and resources of the Ontario Chamber and Canadian Chamber of Commerce as well as our colleagues from Big City Chambers across Canada.
  • We formed and strengthened partnerships with stakeholders including but not limited to the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health, Ottawa Tourism, Invest Ottawa, RGA and the Ottawa Coalition of BIAs as well as our local representatives from every level of government.
  • We wrote and co-wrote letters, media releases and social media campaigns to amplify key messages and engage the business community in solution focused activities such as following health protocols and creating policies and processes that would serve their businesses.
  • We delivered programs to educate and support businesses including webinars on business fundamentals, reopening protocols, funding and promotion opportunities, peer groups, rapid testing distribution, shop local and consumer confidence building campaigns.
  • Meanwhile, we still organized awards shows, economic summits, Mayor’s breakfasts, and the annual business growth survey through our partnership with the Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Business Events team.
  • And finally, we presented recommendations to decision makers in formal and informal settings and continued to advocate for priorities that will end our fight with COVID and create a competitive business environment that will drive the economic growth needed for recovery, sustainability, and equity for all.

All of this was only possible due to the hard work, dedication and passion of our staff and volunteer team. Many of our volunteers met weekly to stay on top of the issues and provide valuable feedback. Business leaders met directly with decision makers, presented in government consultations, and did the leg work on projects and initiatives. To all of you, thank you a thousand times for your contributions to our business community.

So, what’s next?

Like all of you, we have learned many lessons during the last nineteen months. In addition, the issues we had identified pre-pandemic including the pace and scope of change in the global economy have only accelerated.

Now, more than ever, we need to have a strong business community that can advocate smart and sustainable policies and programs that will drive innovation and global competitiveness.

We need to ensure access to real time, relevant data that can inform decision making in a fast-paced world. We have proven that we can be nimble, resilient and prioritize progress over perfection. Let’s keep building that muscle for our future.

Collaboration is key. Never have we seen the depth and breadth of working together as we have experienced during the peak of this pandemic. Between governments, across sectors and in the hearts of communities. Maintaining this level of communication and collaboration is our competitive edge.

For the Ottawa Board of Trade, the next level work begins. We are committed our role and responsibility as business advocate and economic partner. Our mission is to cultivate a thriving world class business community in Ottawa, the Nation’s Capital. We will focus on opportunities that will have the greatest impact on the success of our businesses and the sustainable growth our community. We will UNITE, INFLUENCE and GROW. We will continue to work collaboratively with our business and community leaders at every level of government.

Ottawa will reach its full potential to be the best city in the world. And that the world will know it! On behalf of our board of directors, and our staff and volunteer team, we invite every Ottawa business to join us, be a member, get active in building our city and invite others to do the same.

Now is the time. And you are the future.

The Ottawa Board of Trade is a non-profit, non-partisan business association dedicated to community prosperity through advocacy, collaboration, and economic development. Since the beginning of COVID-19 we have advocated strongly for all businesses. Ottawa businesses are invited to join us as a member to be heard. We help entrepreneurs and owners to network for growth. Join us today!