Each spring The Chamber's Board of Directors holds a strategic planning session to assess the previous year's priorities and determine the priorities for the upcoming year. The following five strategic initiatives were identified last year (as the former Saint John Board of Trade) designed to strengthen our organization and the business community over the coming year and in the years to come.
1. Increase Focus on Small Business
The overwhelming majority of our members are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees. Their individual voices on issues affecting their ability to grow and prosper are often subsumed by other, more powerful voices. We must use the power of our members’ collective voices to represent their combined strength in discussions with policy makers and other actors in our shared community on issues affecting their viability and opportunities to grow. We must consistently be “the Voice of Small Business” in the Saint John region and will take actions to ensure this becomes reality.
2. Forge one Collective Voice for Business in the Saint John Region
Our region’s Chambers of Commerce and business associations came together to form one larger organization, a "Super Chamber". This new organization makes us one of the largest Chambers in New Brunswick serving over 1000 members. Furthermore, this new organization provides one collective voice for business in the region.
3. Support True Growth 2.0
We have been an instrumental founding partner in the development of True Growth 2.0 and continue to be a partner in the implementation of the program. We identified and lobbied to have the CFIB Communities in Boom survey used as the benchmark for measuring the success of True Growth 2.0. This measurement has been adopted by the community and the Regional Oversight Committee (ROC).
Saint John is currently ranked 78th out of 103 cities. We know we can do better. So our goal is get in the top 50% by 2014, top 30% by 2015 and crack the top 20% by 2016.
We will leverage its skills and expertise to help advance the True Growth 2.0 agenda including;
- Strategic advocacy – We are a private organization funded by our members, enabling us to speak out on issues where others may not be able to.
- Facilitating special events and provide access to our membership
- Engage our members through the working committee re-alignment and encourage strong ties between our members and True Growth 2.0 committees while avoiding duplication.
4. Advocate for a Positive Business Climate
Effective advocacy on behalf of our members is a core tenet and strength of the Chamber movement within Canada. We will continue to adopt a core strategy of investing time and resources to participate knowledgeably and effectively in policy discussions with all levels of government on matters relating to Members’ ability to achieve success in their business endeavours. In doing so, we will continue to maintain and leverage our affiliation with the regional and national chamber organizations.
It is part of The Chamber's job to:
- Be aware of policy initiatives in the making;
- Analyze and understand potential impacts on our members;
- Educate policy makers as to any potentially negative impacts on our members; and,
- Advocate vigorously for changes, as appropriate, to mitigate business risk for our members.
As well as identifying potential risks to the business climate and advocating on behalf of our members, we identify and support initiatives that help advance our vision and promotes a positive business climate for our region including but not limited to:
- Support the city’s bid for clean, reliable, and affordable drinking water;
- Support the construction of a West-East pipeline to the IOL Refinery;
- Support the exploration of an indigenous New Brunswick natural gas industry;
- Support an innovative health research program through NB Health and Life Science to exponentially increase health research and investment;
- Advance Tucker Park as a world Cardio Vascular Research Center of Excellence;
- Support the development of Saint John supply chain growth opportunities for Halifax Shipyards;
- Further advance strategic investments to our waterfront, port and airport;
- Remain laser focused on all policies which drive increased input costs for Small Businesses – energy, taxation, regulation, wages & benefits;
- Celebrate positive business success stories; and
- Foster for a stronger collaborative approach with our regional economic development agencies.
5. Operational Excellence
The Chamber is itself a small business entity. We have revenues and expenses, we provides services, we are an employer, a holder of assets, and operate under the guidance of a volunteer board and professional management. We are also a member of the Chambers of Commerce movement within Canada, and participate in regional and national activities of the chamber movement.
In this context, our members have a right to expect that we strive to operate as a ‘best-in-class’ Chamber, employing best practices for small business operations and management. That means prudent fiscal management, enlightened employment practices, effective use of technology and other resources, and a constant focus on continuous improvement in all that we do.