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Krista Ross, CEO, Fredericton Chamber of Commerce

Normally in this space, I take the opportunity to share the chamber position on a current issue of concern, a government policy, or a regulation that our members think should be adjusted.  But in this column – the final one for 2020 – I want to take the opportunity to shine some light on you, our members. 

Since March 19, 2020, when the government of New Brunswick declared a State of Emergency in our province in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic – the business community – and of course the community as a whole, has done an exceptional job of rising to the occasion. On a regular basis, over the last 8+ months, you’ve been asked to adjust practically every aspect of how you do business and how you serve your clients. Many of you were closed entirely for a time, and many of you continue to have your teams (or some of them) working remotely. Everything has changed – from the number of clients who can enter your business, to how your workspace is laid out, to cleaning protocols, to creating physical barriers between your staff (and between you and your clients) and your supply chains have been drastically impacted.  The number of visitors to the region has become nearly nonexistent, which has impacted many of you to varying degrees and on top of this – consumer patterns and spending have changed which has impacted many greatly.  Support programs have been launched which you have found complicated and difficult to navigate, and perhaps not fully hitting the mark.  

Through all of this – you have continued to manage your way through this crisis, you have done everything in your power to adapt to both public health and economic realities, you have adjusted, pivoted and shown exceptional resilience!  You have made keeping your clients, your staff and your community safe a priority.  I am so very proud of each and every one of you who has figured out a way to keep going, to keep the doors open, to keep your team employed and to keep your chin up!  2020 has been the craziest and most difficult year any of you will likely every have to navigate – in your entire business career.  Here’s hoping in 2021 we will turn the corner and find some semblance of normalcy and get our businesses back on track and our lives back in order. You have done an amazing job of keeping things going – your perseverance is outstanding.

While you were busy adjusting to new normals, we were too. Like you, we’ve pivoted, adjusted and adapted.  We’ve gone from having an event or two each week…. to having literally no events (except virtual) – we miss seeing all of you and can’t wait to see you again! We’ve made a decision to take our printed magazine to an online version – advertising was always a hard sell, but during COVID – it was literally impossible, and we realized the time has come for us to look at new ways to share news with you. We learned during the pandemic that you value and read online news because you read our COVID-19 updates every day, from one end to the other… for months!!!  We worked remotely for eight weeks at the beginning of of the pandemic – but were happy to come back to the office in May – however, we learned our collaboration can work remotely. ZOOM has become part of our everyday lives and is now a verb… ‘let’s zoom’ is a common suggestion. Through all these changes – one thing that hasn’t changed is the chamber team’s dedication to serving you, our members.  Please let us know if there is more that we can or should be doing.

I want to take a moment to say thank you to our colleague, Tanya Senechal, our Event Manager of nearly four years. Tanya is leaving us to attend UNB full-time in the New Year and we wish her well!  She has been a delight to work with – a cheerful and fun employee who was creative and efficient with events and had a great knack for building rapport and relationships with our members and suppliers – Tanya, you’ll be missed.  But don’t be surprised if you see Tanya helping us with events moving forward in the new year – she’s agreed to help us out until we are able to launch into full event mode again and replace her position. This final printed version of Insight Magazine will likely be in your hands over the holiday season – we hope you enjoy the contents and trust you’ll follow our online magazine going forward! I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a restful, peaceful holiday season. I truly hope that 2021 will bring us a less challenging year than we’ve just gone through.  All the best to you and yours for good health, peace and prosperity in the new year.

Krista Ross is CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, a nationally accredited organization with more than 1,000 members, is an active business organization engaged in policy development and advocacy that affects the competitiveness of our members and the Canadian business environment. The Chamber’s vision is ‘Stronger Community Through Business Prosperity’ 

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