We live in turbulent economic and political times. Massive changes far beyond our control are reshaping our world: shifting demographics, an erosion of the traditionally strong economies of Europe and the US, and slower growth in China are just a few of the global trends that impact our economy here in BC.
Against this backdrop, the role of the BC Chamber has become increasingly critical. We are the voice of business in this province. Our mission is to ensure a provincial policy framework is in place that supports the success of our 32,000 members – large and small – from every corner of the province.
This past year has marked a number of key successes for our organization. I am pleased to report that fully 97% of members who responded to a recent survey stated they were satisfied with the BC Chamber’s performance. To quote from the independent, third-party survey company:
This result speaks volumes about the quality of the BCCC’s efforts and brand, and, without a doubt, would make any organization proud.
The positive feedback from our members reflects the renewed focus in recent years by the BC Chamber on governance excellence and two-way communication with members. It is also a measure of our long-established grassroots approach to policy development and on the effectiveness of the resulting advocacy efforts.
Turning to policy, we have recently enjoyed several high-profile successes. While by no means an exhaustive list, the following achievements are illustrative of the value we deliver to our membership.
Introduction of the Office of the Local Government Auditor General – to provide scrutiny for local taxpayers and resources to local governments to enhance their decision-making capacity.
Announcement of the Province’s Small Business Accord – to make BC the most business-friendly jurisdiction in the country.
Launch of the Micro Business Training Pilot – to deliver skills-training to owners of businesses with fewer than five employees.
Establishment of Destination BC – an industry-led Crown corporation that will work with tourism stakeholders across the province to market BC’s tourism resources.
Of course, none of these ‘wins’ was achieved in isolation. The BC Chamber worked closely with members, with like-minded business associations, with government and other stakeholders to secure these and other policy successes. Indeed, the ability to identify common challenges, build bridges and collaborate effectively is – in my view – the true strength of the BC Chamber network and brand.
All of which leads me to the initiative in which I take the most pride: the Shared Prosperity Agenda. Launched in the Fall of 2012 in partnership with the Business Council of BC, the Agenda is designed to take a fresh look at the economic and social development issues affecting the prosperity of British Columbians. It is driven in large measure by the long-term polarization of BC’s political culture and the resulting ideological warfare that has silenced the civil conversations we need to have about the critical questions facing our economy. At its core, this initiative seeks to maximize our strategic advantages and assets in order to build a diverse, competitive and sustainable economy that provides opportunity for all who invest, work and live in British Columbia.
With so much at stake – and so many changes taking place at the global level – it is more important now than ever before that the business community comes together and speaks as one. The BC Chamber is committed to leveraging its power as the voice of business to ensure BC has in place policies that support robust economic growth and that leave our province well-positioned to unleash its full economic potential for the benefit of all.