Why Ottawa's business community needs radical collaboration

Editor's Note

This article was sponsored by the Ottawa Board of Trade.

I love to host dinner parties. For years, I would be pleased to invite small groups of close friends, plan the perfect menu, shop for the best ingredients, invent a unique décor and then spend hours cooking, cleaning, and preparing for an evening of merry making. I revelled in the knowledge that I provided my guests with an opportunity to spend quality time together. But as life got busier with a growing family, the effort, expense, and time commitment impacted my ability to entertain. Often, I could not fully enjoy the visit as I was busy hosting, exhausted by the end of the evening and facing the undesirable prospect of clean up. Then one day I discovered a new way of hosting – POTLUCK!

The concept of everyone contributing their best dish to co-create a wonderful evening with friends, sharing in the effort, the expense and the accolades was a game changer. It means we gather more often, and with a better outcome for all. Collaboration at its finest!

Collaboration is the foundation upon which the Ottawa Board of Trade was created. The roots of our organization date back to 1599 when a group of local merchants banded together to change the decision of their governors. Then in 2018, the Chambers of Commerce in Ottawa consolidated to optimize member resources and strengthen the voice of business. Today, radical collaboration is the ethos of our organization and our primary approach to economic growth in our nation’s capital.

The last two years of operating in a global pandemic has proven the benefits of working together at the highest levels. Business and community leaders, government officials, economic and health partners had to collaborate like never before for our collective survival. The lessons learned during this time can be leveraged to build up Ottawa, knowing that business and the community, our economy and our health are completely entwined.

What does radical collaboration look like?

Many businesses are ahead of the game when it comes to honing their focus on their main thing. Corporations have headquarters to facilitate administration with local sites to respond to their markets in a more meaningful way. Businesses outsource projects or services that are not their primary product or service. They partner with other businesses to create new marketing initiatives or bundle packages. This out of box thinking can give them a big competitive edge.

For city builders, creating a shared vision for our future and then calibrating our collective resources to execute on strategies is the way for us to generate growth while addressing key challenges related to creating an affordable, inclusive, and sustainable region. The pandemic has given us an opportunity to understand the importance of consultation, clear communication, and shared accountability. No one level of government, group of stakeholders or the private sector can go it alone if we are to realize our full potential in Ottawa, as the best national capital in the world.

Finally, community prosperity is multi-faceted and requires a whole of community approach. Every resident, businessperson, employee, stakeholder, and elected official has a role and responsibility to do their part in creating a dynamic and healthy city, one that attracts investment and talent and is a model for leadership. This may mean buying and promoting local, inviting those in your international network to visit or host an event, donating to key causes or volunteering your expertise and time to build up Ottawa.

The time is now

Our post pandemic world is contemplating the best path forward. Individual and business priorities are shifting, the governments that serve us are challenged and global pressures cannot be controlled. However, our ability to work together at a local, regional, and national level is a very real opportunity to build better. As the nation’s capital, we are uniquely positioned to influence mandates and set a global example of a thriving inclusive city.

The Ottawa Board of Trade team, members and volunteers are at the ready. We are committed working with our business, community, and political leaders to ensure business success and community growth. Together, we will create a city that our next generation is be proud to lead and build for the future.

Yours in prosperity, Sueling

Sueling Ching
President & CEO | Ottawa Board of Trade

About the Ottawa Board of Trade

The Ottawa Board of Trade is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan member driven business association. We are the voice of business and key advocate for economic growth in our Nation’s Capital. Our mission is to cultivate a thriving world class business community in Ottawa by influencing economic development through leadership and partnerships. We advocate key priorities at all three levels of government and support business growth through relevant benefits and programs. Join us today!