Lisa Gervais: Celebrating local business
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | March 16, 2017|
I’ve covered chamber of commerce awards in places such as Dauphin and Brandon, Manitoba, Sudbury, Bathurst and Mudgee in Australia and recently, Lindsay.
But Saturday night was my first experience with the chamber of commerce business awards here in Haliburton.
Manager Autumn Smith, the board of directors and the gala committee all deserve a thunderous round of applause. Of course, so do the sponsors, nominators and nominees.
It’s so nice to see our community come together to celebrate the work we do in every sector.
Ours is an interesting area in which to work. Essentially we toil in a rural environment with a transient summer population. These two factors create a challenging annual business cycle that must be closely managed. And we are subject to the whims of a third factor as well — the weather.
To start a business in Haliburton County and maintain it over a sustained period of time is indeed not an easy row to hoe.
And, yet, many of our businesses have not only survived but thrived against all odds.
Wayne Lavery of Patient News said when he moved his internationally-focused marketing business to the county 20-plus years ago, it was an anomaly. But now we have businesses that service Canada, North America and the world.
Matthew Roberts of Heat-Line Freeze Protection Systems said when he attended his first awards gala three years ago as a nominee, he was really nervous and anxious. But the minute he walked into the room he felt proud and a sense of belonging. He thinks we have the most determined and strong-willed entrepreneurs that he has seen anywhere. We do.
The fact that the chamber has 270 members is astounding. By contrast, the much larger Lindsay and District Chamber of Commerce has 350 members.
The awards gala on Saturday was the third sell-out in a row, with 210 people attending. The only hitch was an early departure by local go-to host, Mike Jaycock, who had an attack of vertigo. The show did go on, and Mike has now fully recovered.
The fact that there were 95 nominations from 75 different businesses, organizations and individuals – a record – is also remarkable for a county of this size.
As chamber president Jerry Walker said, our business community is alive and well. He quite rightly said the business community is a real driving force for Haliburton County. A feeling of camaraderie infuses our local economy, despite the fact some businesses are in direct competition with others. We see it, for example, when two local restaurants in the same jurisdiction coordinate their schedules around each other. One woos the breakfast and lunch crowd, the other stays focused on dinner.
Gala committee member and stand-in emcee Heather Kennedy commented that, “Our chamber and community is stronger when we all come together.” She is absolutely right.
During the evening it was also said that we should support those who support us and our families. In other words, we should buy from local businesses who, in turn, buy from us.
That’s not bad advice. Saving a few bucks out of town may make us feel better in the short-term, but in the long-term it leads to closed businesses and lost jobs. What’s been called the Walmart effect can have us shopping ourselves into economic decline.
Let’s continue to shop local, and ensure our business community does indeed remain alive and well.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.