This article is sponsored by the Ottawa Board of Trade.
The last year and a half of constant challenge and change has created a sense of uncertainty in our businesses and our families. It has also given us an opportunity to demonstrate resilience, innovation and collaboration, as well as provided us with many opportunities to build back better.
But in order to move forward, we must restore the confidence of consumers, employees and entrepreneurs as quickly as possible.
The Ottawa Board of Trade is a non-profit, non-partisan business association dedicated to community prosperity through advocacy, collaboration and economic development.
We are calling on governments to create an environment that allows us to fully reopen the economy while living with COVID-19. The mass distribution of the vaccines has alleviated the stress on our primary health care system. Now is the time to leverage the lessons we have learned and aggressively implement measures to mitigate the anticipated increase in cases stemming from the return to school, indoor activities as well as exposure to variants.
We have recommended a responsible business protocol that would allow all businesses that have demonstrated a commitment to keeping their customers and employees safe to remain open similar to current health and safety policies. This would eliminate the fear of province-wide lockdowns, allowing business owners and managers to plan, attract proper staffing and re-engage loyal customers.
We must also continue to support the hardest-hit businesses until they are able to regenerate lost revenues including access to grants, capital and infrastructure investments that are necessary to create safe environments long-term, such as adequate ventilation systems.
Ongoing programs that stimulate growth and prepare us for the future such as digital transformation, skills development, trade and export as well as access to real-time data support business success and community prosperity.
Finally, we must open access to the border and articulate a plan for welcoming foreign nationals who are an important part of our visitor, event and business conference economy. Decisions are being made now for the next three to five years that could impact us for decades to come. There is no question that government has an important part to play in our communities but it is us – consumers, business owners and community leaders that ultimately drive our future.
To that end...
We are calling on all Ottawa community members to be a part of the city’s recovery and rebound plan by:
- Getting fully vaccinated if you can. We acknowledge there are many who cannot for physical, emotional or religious reasons. However, if you intend to, sooner is better.
- Supporting local businesses. Being kind as many businesses are still short-staffed. Being generous to those businesses and employees in the hardest-hit sectors, including restaurants, retailers and personal services.
- Inviting two out-of-town visitors for a three-day visit to Ottawa – and supporting our goal to pump $500 million into our local economy.
- Inviting those in your professional network to Think Ottawa the next time they are planning a business conference. The nation’s capital has much to offer including customized support.
- Becoming an Ottawa ambassador and inviting members of your network to Ottawa to live, play, work, study, invest and visit. After all, we are Canada in One City.
We are calling on all Ottawa businesses leaders to drive our economic growth by:
- Committing to rapid testing programs in the workplace to identify asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carriers.
- Planning for a return-to-work environment that instills confidence for employees and consumers – declare your commitment by making the Post Promise as part of a national confidence campaign.
- Taking advantage of programs designed to accelerate and modernize your business including digitization, expanding your markets and training your employees.
- Becoming an Ottawa ambassador and leveraging your international networks to enhance our business community with new entrepreneurs, investors and leaders.
- Investing in your local voice of business by becoming an active member, knowing that the private sector has an important role and responsibility to influence decision-making at every level of government.
We wish to express gratitude for the dedication of our business and community leaders as well as the resilience of our businesses, employees, students and, most importantly, our front-line workers during this trying time. Let us move forward together, building on the lessons we have learned to create a more inclusive, sustainable and healthy community and economy.
The Ottawa Board of Trade is committed to the success of our local businesses and corporations through advocacy, economic development and offering business resources and promotional opportunities. Join us today!
Sueling Ching is the president and CEO of the Ottawa Board of Trade.