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The Year In Review – From Dragons To Disney

During 2010 the Chamber staff, with the assistance of our volunteer ambassadors and events committee, organized over ninety networking events and committee meetings throughout the year ranging in size from 10 to 12 attendees at a Lunch and Learn to over 300 attending the Disney Institute two day training session. The Chamber boardroom saw a wide variety of people come through the doors to attend over 30 meetings for members and government agencies. All in all, over 4,100 people attended events organized and hosted by the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce.

Membership, in the continuing sluggish economy, held with over 1,100 entrepreneurs, managers and corporate executives on the Chamber Who’s Who list.

In January the Chamber kicked off its networking year with three Sold Out events. First up was the Women in Business luncheon at El Stavros with Nikki Henderson from Strut Nouveau as the keynote speaker. At a breakfast held at the Holiday Inn and sponsored by VIA Rail, Durham Regional Chair Roger Anderson gave the Chamber his yearly update and challenged the Ministry of Transport to get on with the 407. To wind up the month, a special Courthouse information session breakfast was hosted by the Chamber to introduce the business community to the senior staff of the Durham Consolidated Courthouse. Over 100 attended the session and immediately following, the Chamber put out a call to the business community to fill over 450 welcome gift bags for the new staff. Seventy-seven Chamber businesses responded with special offers and discount coupons. What a great way to welcome the staff of the courthouse to Oshawa. The monthly Lunch & Learn series kicked off in January and was an extremely high energy event and a great networking tool.

Moving into February the annual Tasting Evening at Parkwood Estate hosted by NEAL MARA FRASER was once again a huge success and a great networking event. Winding up the month, the Oshawa Mayor’s Annual Chamber address, sponsored by BMO Bank of Montreal, was held at Tosca Banquet Hall & Conference Centre.

March saw the return for a second year of the “Challenge” sponsored by Johnson Insurance Inc. and held at NEB’s Fun World; it was once again Sold Out and a huge success. The Challenge Champs “Team HMA” presented a cheque to Hearth Place for $1,500.00 on behalf of the Challenge. Also during the month of March, the Chamber’s behind the scene tour of the new Courthouse, with security and all, was Sold Out and had a waiting list. For a second year in a row CBC’s Dragons’ Den production team visited the Chamber and forty seven business hopefuls turned up to pitch their best ideas and products.

April started off with the Chamber’s AGM, held at the General Motors Centre. Attendees enjoyed a delicious dinner and learned about the upcoming Capital One Grand Slam of Curling event to be held at the GM Centre in early 2011. The Women in Business networking luncheon, with Leslie Yeates of ROCG Hobb & Company Consulting Inc as guest speaker, was held at the Studio Restaurant and was a huge success. The Chamber got an update in April from the Mayor of Clarington on the Incinerator at a breakfast hosted at Harmony Creek Golf Course.

Along with our the monthly Lunch and Learn and Business for Breakfast, who could forget the 24th Annual Golf Day—the May showers didn’t dampen the spirits of the over 160 golfers and sponsors as they headed for cover and some great networking. Thanks goes to our lead sponsors Johnson Insurance Inc. and the Oshawa Harbour Commission and the over 60 sign and silent auction sponsors.

HST was a hot topic in June and the Chamber hosted THREE in house HST seminars with CRA and the Ministry of Finance and a breakfast with ROCG Hobb & Company Consulting Inc. to help Chamber members transition to the new rules and regulations surrounding the HST.

In August the Chamber’s 6th Annual Autofest Kick-Off party hosted by Syvan Developments had over 200 Chamber members and guests get a look at some snazzy street rods while networking and enjoying lunch provided by Halenda’s Fine Foods.

With fall came the Chamber’s Business Excellence Awards, in September, the one-of-a-kind experience with the Disney Institute and the Municipal Election Debates. The recipients of the prestigious Business Excellence Awards were: “Business Excellence“– Northwind Solutions, and Perry Mechanical Inc. of Oshawa, “Civic Pride” – Oshawa Generals Hockey Club, Oshawa; “Innovative Technology” – Durham College, Whitby Campus; “New Enterprise” – Victory Cigars Inc., Oshawa, Mr. Keith Miller, of W.B. White Insurance Brokers Limited, Oshawa was named “Business Person of the Year” and the President’s Award was presented to Simcoe Hall Settlement House. The event, held at the Holiday Inn Oshawa Whitby Conference Centre in Oshawa was emceed by Ms. Kate Wheeler, host of Studio 12 News Oshawa, and it had all the “pomp and circumstance” that has come to be expected at this Gala event.

Over 300 attended the Disney Institute event and got a close up look at the business behind the magic. It is true Mickey Mouse makes people laugh, but behind the lovable mouse is a well-oiled business machine. The magical day was made possible with the support of UOIT, Durham College and Durham Region and was a tremendous success. To wrap up the month the Chamber partnered with the Durham Region Home Builders’ Association, the Durham Region Association of Realtors and Durham Radio to help get the electorate informed of the issues facing Oshawa in the upcoming Municipal election. More than 50 candidates participated in Oshawa Debate 2010 that was broadcast live on 1580 CKDO Radio and 107.7 FM.

In October, the Fall Marketplace 2010, a new twist to the Business After 5 networking event, saw 27 exhibitors and over 110 Chamber members attend the event hosted by the Holiday Inn Oshawa Whitby Conference Centre. The October Women in Business Luncheon was hosted by Mexico Lindo Oshawa, with guest speaker Pat Rivard, CEO of Auto Workers Community Credit Union sharing her experiences.

In early November, 48 curlers slid onto the ice at the Oshawa Golf & Curling Club for the Chamber’s 2nd Annual Curling Funspiel, sponsored by Petley-Hare Insurance Brokers and CRCS Disaster Kleenup. Twelve teams were vying for the $500 in Charity of Choice prize money. The winning team of Stan and Lidia Abbott and Diane and George Moffat donated the cash to the Durham Region Cancer Society. On November 5th, the third biennial Durham Economic Prosperity Conference, organized by the DEPC Committee of the Chamber, was held. Over 120 attendees to the invitation-only event learned from key business leaders including John Tory, host of Talkshow 1010, Jayson Myers, President of CME, Dr. Neil Alexander, President of Candu Industries, and George Hanus, President of GTMA, to name a few, that business as usual is not an option.

Closing out the busy year the Annual Christmas networking social in December, sponsored by Ontario Motor Sales, was hosted in the Officers’ Mess of the Ontario Regiment. Over 130 enjoyed the evening of networking while listening to the Salvation Army Band and enjoying some excellent hors d’ouvres. Attendees were encouraged to bring along a special gift of food or toys and the Chamber is happy to report that two trips with Bob’s Chevy Equinox were needed to take the items to the Simcoe Hall Settlement House.

In addition to the monthly Business for Breakfasts and Lunch & Learns, the Chamber developed the Durham Professional Advisory Group which brings in speakers monthly on topics of interest to the financial, accounting, legal and insurance markets from across the Region.

Throughout the year the Chamber tackled some popular and some not so popular issues in its quest to affect change—it continues to advocate for the Highway 407 extension across Durham Region; and in March it called the Durham District School Board plans to close Donevan Collegiate as shortsighted and the process leading to the decision as flawed.

As part of its consultation process, in the spring, the Chamber hosted a meeting with Oshawa City Council to discuss issues of importance to the local business community and co-hosted Municipal election debates. In November the Chamber hosted a special roundtable with Deputy Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, David Lindsay, and in December with Tim Hudak, MPP and Leader of the Official Opposition. As part of its advocacy work the Chamber continues to challenge the provincial and federal government and garnered the support of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on its recommendation for Accountability of School Boards to Property Taxpayers and continues to call on the governments for a Nuclear Energy Strategy for Canada with the support of the Canadian and Ontario Chambers of Commerce.

The Chamber is a business of information—collecting it and sharing it with the members and the business community. As part of this information service, last year the Chamber once again, produced four long standing publications: Durham Relocation Guide which celebrated its 15th year of publication, Oshawa Visitor’s Guide in its 9th year of publication, Chamber Membership Directory & Buyer’s Guide and its monthly business paper Business Matters—which combined had an annual distribution of over 95,000.
In addition, the Chamber continues with two monthly eNews bulletins—eNews Business Matters and eNews DEPC, both designed to keep the business community informed about the changing business climate. Please review this website for more information about any of the above publications.