Advocacy priorities identified through Taskforce Committee

Last fall we partnered with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to conduct surveys, interviews and hosted a focus group meeting to discuss “what ails small business in Ontario”. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce provided a detailed report and identified several advocacy policies to work on over the next 18 months. We organized a Taskforce Committee last October to identify issues, challenges and opportunities specific to the Trent Hills business community. The Government Relations and Advocacy Committee met recently to narrow down the list to the following priorities in the coming year.

Access to affordable broadband in rural areas – the recent changes to identify this as an “essential” need is hopeful that changes will be forthcoming. Efforts will continue to collaborate with Ontario Chamber of Commerce and other partners.

Labour force challenges – This has been identified as a major challenge for businesses from all sectors and sizes. Skills development, recruitment and retention, changes to government support services have all been identified as issues to be looked at.

Micro-business designation – Work towards establishing a government designation that reflects “small business” in communities like Trent Hills. Currently a small business is defined as less than 100 employees or less than $500,000 in revenue. By creating a designation such as a micro-business that reflects small business in small-town Ontario opportunities may arise for less red tape and programming that is structured towards businesses with less than 10 or even 20 employees. Efforts will be made to engage the other Chambers in Northumberland and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to collaborate on this initiative.

Infrastructure and transportation – Connections to larger centres are limited, which inhibits growth in our area. While solutions are limited, it is vital to keep this issue at the forefront through continued collaboration with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Network and government partners.

Trent-Severn Waterway – The untapped potential of the waterway from both a development and visitor standpoint has been identified as an issue worth pursuing. Establishing partnerships with government organization and stakeholders will be key to this effort.

Business development – identify ways to present Trent Hills as an “open-to-business” community.

Municipal Bylaws – The current sign bylaw does not address large digital signage and it will be determined if the business community has an interest in addressing this gap with the Municipality.

Accessibility – continues to be a challenge for businesses to meet requirements.

We will be seeking member feedback through surveys and polls as we move forward to establish a plan of action to address these policy priorities.