Our purpose at the Calgary Chamber is nourish, power, and inspire our business community by providing growth opportunities and advocating for government policies that enable your success.
This tumultuous year has brought our purpose and the importance of this work into even sharper focus.
Our year began with events of which we are very proud. We held our first-ever Agriculture Summit, bringing together over 550 attendees from across Southern Alberta to advance and celebrate the industry. The Honourable Jim Carr made the Calgary Chamber his first stop after being named Special Representative to the Prairies, and we were pleased to host the Fair Deal Panel and Alberta’s Minister of Finance for important discussions on provincial government policy and its impacts to the business community. This was all in addition to our ongoing work to advocate for progress on government policy around: a vision for our natural resources, rebalancing our property tax system, and enabling business to grow and compete.
When the pandemic arrived in March, like so many businesses, the Calgary Chamber quickly adjusted to new realities, prioritized the health of our staff, and focused even more acutely on the needs of the business community.
With the situation changing day by day – sometimes hour by hour – our business community needed to stay connected and be supported. With this in mind, we immediately launched our #Here4YYC campaign.
Our Chamber team reached out to every single member business to understand their challenges and connect them to resources. We advocated at all levels of government tor policies to support business and transformed our website in a comprehensive toolkit of resources. We also hosted 52 daily webinars with experts in human resources, crisis communications, mental health and more. This included webinars with senior government leaders so they could hear directly from businesses.
We served as emergency partner to the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), actively supporting the longest activation of the Emergency Operations Centre, which lasted for over 90 days. We also served on the City’s Business Sector Support Task Force, which monitors, evaluates, and manages the sustainability and wellness of the business community through the pandemic.
We also proudly partnered with Local Laundry to create #Here4YYC merchandise that supported Canadian manufacturing, jobs, and a diversified Canadian economy. All proceeds were donated to The Alex Community Food Centre.
Once the immediate crisis began to stabilize, but also realizing that COVID-19 would be with us for some time, we set our sights on the short, medium, and long-term needs of our business community.
Through member roundtables and consultation with businesses, we developed and advocated for a series of initiatives to keep Canadians safe, ensure resiliency for our economy, and allow us to emerge from this pandemic on our front foot. Alongside the Chamber movement and other partner organizations, we were able to secure several critical wins for the business community
We saw fixed-cost relief programs such as rent relief and wage subsidies, as well as programs to increase and improve access to capital.
We saw an economic recovery plan that included supporting our base industries, diversifying our economy, and supporting technology and innovation. We also saw strong, unilateral action to remove trade barriers between provinces at a time when we needed it most.
We saw property tax deferrals and new funding agreements with the provincial and federal government to ensure continuity in the delivery of essential services.
We also penned a number of opinion editorials to support mental health, local tourism, and a bolder future for Calgary in partnership with YW Calgary, Tourism Calgary, and Calgary Economic Development, respectively. Other important topics we shared our insights on with the community included supporting entrepreneurship through crisis and rebuilding consumer confidence as central to our economic recovery.
With the arrival of the fall and heading into the end of the year, it became even clearer that while COVID-19 posed many challenges, it also brought out the very best in our business community. We knew we needed to celebrate and accelerate this resiliency.
Calgary's Resilient Business Awards
In late September, we celebrated this grit and determination at Calgary’s Resilient Business Awards.
Small Business Week
To enable our businesses to succeed while protecting public health, we also pivoted Small Business Week in 2020 into a fully virtual experience.
To accelerate the adoption of e-commerce by small and medium-sized businesses, we launched Connecting Commerce, a program that partners local students with local businesses to get their products and offerings online. The program is done in partnership with Helcim, KMPG Enterprise, and with support from Western Economic Diversification Canada.
In times of crisis, business and government collaboration is particularly important, and in November we were pleased to host key political leaders for a virtual conversation with our business community including Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, and the Honourable Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy, and Innovation.
Next year will mark the Calgary Chamber’s 130th birthday. Like so many birthdays during this pandemic, we won’t be celebrating the way we had planned to. But we will still stay focused on supporting and advocating on behalf of our business community through the challenges that lay ahead. At the same time, we will be working in partnership with our business community on a new strategy for the Chamber and will continue the search for our new CEO.
For now, we want to simply say thank you to you, our business community.
Thank you for the sleepless nights you have spent working on solutions for your employees and business, while at the same time caring for your family.
Thank you for leaning into your creativity and adapting your operations, while at the same time facing the mental health challenges so many of us are experiencing.
Thank you for going above and beyond to help our community, without knowing what the future held for your business.
Know that the Calgary Chamber will be there for you, every step of the way.
On behalf of the entire Calgary Chamber team, thank you for putting your trust in us and we wish you a safe and healthy remainder of 2020.