ADVOCACY: HOW ARE WE HELPING YOU?
ADVOCACY: HOW ARE WE HELPING YOU?
WHAT IS ADVOCACY IN THE CHAMBER NETWORK?
Advocacy is a process that helps inform individuals about the issues affecting a community. Advocating for, or against, an issue requires support from those impacted by the issue being examined.
Generating strong support for some of the most critical issues impacting Sault Ste. Marie’s business community will bring a success to the Chamber’s new strategic plan.
The Chamber network in Canada has always maintained a strong sense of political, social and commercial issues impacting the business community. Through sound advocacy efforts, the network has been successful in lobbying all three levels of government on behalf of Canadian businesses.
The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber has joined many coalitions to advocate for our membership and will continue to work hard for local commerce. Our new strategic plan aligns the Chamber’s efforts to ensure we are focused on the issues. With strong support from our membership, we can effectively discourage red tape for businesses and advocate to make Sault Ste. Marie the best place to do business.
HOW DOES THE SAULT STE. MARIE CHAMBER ADVOCATE FOR YOU?
"We are the recognized voice of business committed to economic prosperity in Sault Ste. Marie."
We will accomplish our Mission by:
Advocating on behalf of our member businesses and agencies in conjunction with efforts undertaken by the Ontario and Canadian Chambers of Commerce;
Educating our members on issues that impact their businesses;
Communicating effectively with our members and always conveying the benefits of doing business in Sault Ste. Marie;
Networking with other agencies and individuals that impact business locally and creating opportunities for our members to build stronger business relations;
Providing services that allow and encourage our member businesses to succeed and grow.
ADVOCACY STRATEGY: FUNDEMENTAL STRATEGIC OUTCOMES
At the local level, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce will work to advance the interests of the business community by actively advocating in favour of the following Fundamental Strategic Outcomes:
The highest level of efficiencies in the provision of public services by the local government, which may include the transfer of functions to the private sector;
Responsible changes in spending and taxation in order to become one of the lowest taxed municipal jurisdictions in Ontario and Canada per $100,000 of assessment;
A re-balancing of the ratio between the business tax rates and the residential tax rates to become one of the most competitively taxed municipalities for industrial and commercial property owners;
Predictable decision making by municipal government in areas that directly impact private sector business investment and municipal growth and in which the municipality has pre-existing professionally developed plans, strategies and by-laws;
Public investment in, and support for, infrastructure that will serve the needs of existing and future business enterprises in Sault Ste. Marie;
Improvements to the local and regional economy and competitive landscape and improved trade practices within the regional and local economy, including the upper peninsula of Michigan; and
Reduction of the amount of administrative intervention in the conduct and affairs of participants in the local private sector economy.
EXECUTION AND IMPLEMENTATION
Executing and implementing a successful advocacy strategy at the Chamber level is a complex process. The complexity of the process is largely connected to the fact that advocacy issues are very rarely the same. Every issue examined by the Chamber is different and will ultimately impact the membership in different ways. As one of the largest stakeholder groups in the community we have to account for all of our members and ensure their interests are represented through transparent and accountable practices. The Chamber is actively working with all three levels of government to advance our mandate for local commerce.
The Chamber strives to ensure that communication platforms remain current but also accessible, recognizing that preferential means of communication among members remains as diverse as the membership itself. E-newsletters, membership mailings (e-mailings beginning in July 2015), and regular updates to the Chamber’s website and social media platforms ensure that members have a variety of options to reference if seeking information on Chamber activities, advocacy or otherwise.
Online and social media surveys will continue to increase in frequency as the Chamber’s new strategic plan focusing on advocacy and communications develop and grow.
The most critical component to successfully driving advocacy is member engagement. The Chamber is working to create ad hoc advocacy committees or advocacy teams that will consist of sector representatives heavily engaged in lobbying for their respective sectors. This team will help guide the advocacy work of the Chamber and provide expertise when the Chamber is unfamiliar with sector specific aspects of the issues. Through this process we are able to identify issues, create informed positions and effectively implement the proper steps to successfully advocate for our members. The Chamber will also use other methods like surveys and member outreach strategies to achieve the highest volume of feedback.
It is imperative to assess the Chamber’s advocacy positions against our strategic plan and desired incomes, to avoid championing a position that is held by only a single or small number of members to the detriment of a majority others. The advocacy team will be influential in helping the Chamber avoid advocating a position that impacts certain sectors of our membership in a negative way. Having proper representation on the advocacy team protects the interests of each member’s respective sectors.
The Chamber will engage members through effective communication practices. Giving members the opportunity to express their interests and outline the barriers impeding their business is the only way to develop a transparent relationship between the Chamber and local stakeholders. Advocacy for the membership is also about understanding the value of having the Chamber lobby positions with the different levels of government. Completing political analysis and outlining the strengths and weaknesses of advocacy efforts for our members is a key practice that will create a successful feedback loop.
ADCOCACY IS AN IMPORTANT MEMBER BENEFIT
Throughout the year the Chamber encounters three reoccurring events for which the Chamber will provide a position. At the municipal level we provide budget input to the City. If you haven’t read the Chamber’s position paper
on the 2015 municipal budget, please do. The Chamber also participates in policy debates at the annual general meetings of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC). At both of these events the Chamber is given the opportunity to present and/or support policy resolutions that describe barriers faced by our members and offer recommendations to the provincial and federal governments to remove these barriers. If these policy resolutions are passed by a majority of local Chambers present at the OCC and CCC annual general meetings then they will become the subject of significant lobbying efforts by the OCC and CCC staff before government. You can read a summary of the Chamber’s activities at the OCC AGM
on our website.
Also, throughout the year other issues arise that impact our local business members for which the Chamber is able to take a position on behalf of local businesses. Locally, your Chamber has written a position paper in respect of the City’s proposed new sign by-law. You can read our position paper here
. We are also developing a position paper regarding the City’s proposal to implement development charges. On a provincial level, your Chamber has endorsed reports and position papers dealing with the proposed changes to the Ontario Pension Plan, rising electricity costs and carbon taxing, all of which would increase costs and, consequently, lower profits for many Ontario businesses.
These are just some of the ways the Chamber has most recently actively advocated for you. Help us succeed in protecting our members by communicating your concerns. In 2015 the Chamber has laid the foundation to become a strong advocate by implementing a comprehensive advocacy strategy and continuing efforts to reach out to all of our members.
If you have a barrier impeding your business or a policy concern please contact the Chamber.