The President and CEO of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, Ken Kobly, was the featured speaker at the September luncheon for the Leduc & District Chamber of Commerce.
The Leduc & District Chamber of Commerce was certainly not idle over the summer months, managing to attract 34 new member businesses that were welcomed at the September luncheon.
The featured speaker for this luncheon was Mr. Ken Kobly, former Mayor of Beaumont and now President and CEO of the Alberta Chamber of Commerce, representing 126 Chambers and more than 26,000 businesses across the Province.
Mr. Kobly proudly shared that 85% of those businesses were outside of the major centres of Edmonton and Calgary, so the ACC is a very important and viable partner with small and rural businesses. He shared that "We have the common goal of improving the local community by providing support and policies to help business growth within this Province."
Giving an update on issues that were foremost in the minds of Albertans this previous year, Ken spoke on a wide variety of topics beginning with the floods that took place earlier this summer.
Ken commented that he was pleased to see how quickly the Provincial Government reacted to the problem and that his own phone started ringing off the hook at 6:15 that Sunday morning which is when the work really began for him. He personally went to High River and was horrified by the devastation he saw. "I can't even describe how impressed I was by our Executive Director of the Chamber in High River Lynette McCracken," said Ken. "When you are the Head of a Chamber of Commerce everyone knows your face and in a situation like this you are constantly stopped by people asking you what to do. She too had lost everything in the floods including her home but she was tirelessly out working to get her community back on its feet."
Ken said that as soon as he realized the massive level of destruction that had taken place he put out a call to all the Chambers within the Province for assistance and they raised over $80,000.00 within two weeks.
Another far reaching issue that affects almost every business across the Province, and has been an ongoing issue since 2006, is the problem of labour shortages in Alberta. "The current unemployment rate in Alberta is 4.9%," stated Ken. "But according to accepted statistics at 3.9% the employment rate is considered to be at 100% where everyone who wants a job and is capable of working is employed."
In comparison Ken quoted the unemployment rates in Ontario and Quebec to be 7.5 and 7.9% respectively. "So a temporary foreign workforce is very important to this Province in particular," said Ken. "As the Alberta Chamber we were very excited to see a program instituted a year and a half ago that would streamline foreign workers entering Alberta but since that time it has been a disappointing development to have that program curtailed. I have been asked 'How do we transition to a Canadian workforce once foreign workers are here?' And my reply is that as soon as a Canadian walks through the door we transition to a Canadian workforce." Which brought a burst of laughter from the crowd.
Ken also made it clear, due to the upcoming elections in the Province, that all Alberta Chambers of Commerce were A-political entities. "We do not align ourselves with any person or political parties in order to remain completely impartial and this enables us to be able to work with every level of government no matter who it is," stated Ken.
As Ken exited the podium he remained in the room to answer any questions from the audience as Leduc Chamber President Elect Alana Gueutal stepped forward to remind everyone that the Leduc Chamber is looking for nominations for a Director on the Chamber Board. Nominations can be made in person or online on their website at www.leduc-chamber.com.
A lovely end to the luncheon came about with the 50/50 draw when Nadine Leming from the Great Canadian Dollar Store donated back her winnings to help support the County of Leduc Animal Shelter Society.
The next luncheon will take place on October 4th at the Executive Royal Inn which will also be the Leduc Chamber's AGM.