The Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce “is in a good position although the future is uncertain,” executive director Jennifer Locke told the organization’s 59th annual AGM Sept. 15.

She added the positivity comes despite COVID-19 due to “savvy and adaptable entrepreneurs that make up our membership, and make up our community …”

While the AGM covered business for the 2019-2020 year, much of it before the pandemic, Locke and board president Andrea Strano referenced the health crisis throughout the meeting. “The story is what happened at the end of this term, with COVID-19 and what opportunities presented themselves,” Locke said. She added she’s constantly asking how she can best serve members and the new board will be coming together in a few weeks for its inaugural meeting, and rolling out new activities.

She encouraged members to do three micro-surveys via the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to outline their issues. In Haliburton County, she said she’s hearing, “cellular and internet infrastructure continues to be a stumbling block and has presented new challenges during COVID-19. Our system is being bogged down with loads we’ve never seen before with remote learning and working and we have multiple generations of families being affected now and countless lost economic opportunities.”

Strano said she’d witnessed acts of kindness, strength, resilience and unity during these unprecedented times and said the power of human connection and networking has never been more obvious.

She said this year, they’ll be opening new virtual channels of promotion and community building for their membership, and supporting the implementation of technology in the workplace.

“It will be a busy year and we remain committed to strengthening business and community by supporting, advocating and serving the community, and like Jennifer said, we are stronger together.”

Locke said economic recovery will come here on the backs of small business.

“The reality is, in Halburton County, if you don’t work directly or indirectly for government you likely work for a small business or enterprise. Make no mistake, small business and small enterprises [are] the economic drivers that will get our community back on its feet.”

During general business, the board bid farewell to departing members Bram Lebo, Amanda Virtanen and Stefan Bjelis and welcomed Melissa Valentini, Mark Bell and Simon Payn. Returning members are Strano, Greg Hebert, Patrick Louch, Joe Cox, Lisa Tompkins, Rob Berthelot, Emily Keller and Jennifer Morrow.

     

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