Category Archives: Business

London Chamber signs historic agreement with the Brazil Canada Chamber of Commerce…….July 23rd 2014

 

As you may know, the London Chamber has embarked on an aggressive campaign to open up new export markets for our members and in turn, attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into London. Our first foray in this new direction was the advent of ABOC (Asian Business Opportunities Committee) where, in 2011/12 your Chamber successfully completed a number of Friendly Agreements of Co-operation with our Chamber counterparts in Chengdu, Chongqing, and Nanjing China.

More recently, Brazil has been added as a strategic market for us to concentrate on and under the auspices of the Chamber’s BBOC (Brazil Business Opportunities Committee) we have made significant strides in building this relationship. Brazil as you may know has some $12 billion dollars of private sector investment located within an hour’s drive of London.

On July 23rd, a delegation from the London Chamber went to Toronto to strengthen that relationship even further. Delegates, including the Chamber’s President of the Board, Andrea Feddema, BBOC Chair and Co-Chair Paulo Silva, and Felipe Gomes respectively as well as yours truly, had a very successful day.

We first had an opportunity to meet with the newly minted Consul General of Brazil, Jose Vicente De Sa Pimemtel. The Consul General met with us in the morning and was most gracious in offering his advice and counsel on how best to build on our growing relationship and where in his view we had the best opportunities for success. He is extremely optimistic that there are huge educational opportunities between our two countries and has promised to follow up with us on that note. He has also requested that we develop a matrix of best projects and best opportunities that his office will be able to review for further action. President Andrea Feddema had an opportunity to do a little London bragging and presented the Consul with the Chamber’s “Our London” book as a token of appreciation.

Later that afternoon, the delegation had an appointment with the Brazil Canada Chamber of Commerce (BCCC) where we had pre-arranged for the formal signing of our first “Friendly Agreement of Cooperation” with our Brazilian counterparts. To our knowledge this is the first agreement of its kind between their organization and any community based Chamber of Commerce in Canada.

The agreement was signed by the President of the BCCC, Raul Papaleo and myself and was witnessed by delegates Feddema, Silva, and Gomes. In essence the agreement calls for three basic commitments:

1. The Parties recognize that they should capitalize on existing economic opportunities for their members and encourage the development and promotion of economic cooperation and communication between the business community in Brazil and London, Canada.

2. The Parties will work towards establishing a framework to identify and facilitate economic cooperation and promote business opportunities in each jurisdiction.

3. And, the Parties will encourage cooperation and communication exchange between the Brazilian business community and the London, Canada, business community as well as with each parties’ respective counterparts in their post-secondary educational institutions.

This is a great start and our BBOC group deserves full marks for their work and dedication in making this happen. As the world gets smaller and competition tighter, initiatives like these will help to guarantee a healthy and vibrant global marketplace for our members to do business in.

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Changes to EI Program – Letter to MPs

January 8th 2013

MP Ed Holder, London West

MP Susan Truppe, London North Centre

MP Joe Preston, Elgin-Middlesex-London

 

Dear Members of Parliament.

 

Re: Changes to EI Program

 

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the London Chamber of Commerce, we applaud recent efforts to reform the EI program under the Canada Action Plan.  As you may know the London Chamber has been an active and vocal advocate for many of these changes but in our view, these changes are not enough. Employers in our region in particular will be hit with Employment Insurance premium rate increases in 2013. This, in light of the ongoing economic struggles all of our companies in this region are still experiencing.

Over the last 10 years, London employers as well as those across Ontario have paid $20 billion dollars more into the program than they have received in return. Employers, who have paid the bulk of this bill, are effectively subsidizing workers and businesses in other regions of the country.

Training programs that are funded by employer premiums short change Ontario to the tune of $269 million every year. If Ontario received its fair share of these dollars, it could double the Second Career program, which helps individuals train for a new career. Meanwhile, many Ontario employers are having trouble finding workers with the right skills.

A recent report makes several recommendations to fix the EI program so that it works for all Canadians, including those among us who work and do business in Ontario. They include: 

  1. Reforming EI so      that there is one national standard for qualification and one benefit      formula for all Canadians.
  2. Funding all      federal training and active employment measures through a single, general      revenue-funded transfer to the provinces/territories.
  3. Allocating funding      for federal skills and training on the basis of the number of unemployed.

We would respectfully ask that you share our concerns with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet so that your constituents and our members have the best possible chance to come out of this lengthy economic downturn as quickly as possible and once again return to a more stable and vibrant contributor to the national economy.

 Thank you. I wish you all the best in the New Year.

 

Gerry Macartney, CEO

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Speech to the OFA, Toronto November 19th

Chamber CEO Gerry Macartney delivers opening address to the annual meeting of the Ontario Federation of Agriculutre

You know – In thinking about my talk today, it struck me that my theme should be titled: “We are not Together”

The we being organizations like ours and the Canadian Chamber, the Conference Board, CD Howe and organizations like yours, the OFA, the CFA and many others

Here’s why I think that. The OCC sponsored the Ontario Economic Summit Regional leadership series around province – 8 in total including London and 7 other communities. (Niagara, Hamilton, Peterborough, Northern Ontario, the GTA, Eastern Ontario)

Only ours, the SW Ont. group listed Agriculture as a competitive advantage??? Are you kidding me – “We are not Together”

Then in thinking about London and our relationship to Agriculture I thought – Yes we have members, i.e. Casco, Kellogg, Cargil, Cuddy Farms, Labatt, McCormick, (Club House), Dr. Oetker, the Cakery and the list goes on. These are world class businesses. And yes, we gladly take their membership cheques but we don’t really talk about their issues, their challenges, or opportunities. “We are not really Together”We used to have award winning Agriculture committees, Agriculture awards, The Farmer of the Year, the Celebration of Ontario Food event that would attract thousands

Then we got pissy with each other because the various boards got pissy with each other, i.e. wheat, dairy, chicken, beef, pork and we walked away to let them duke it out. They didn’t come back.

“AND WE ARE STILL Not Together”

Well some would say who cares? And the answer of course is – we all should care

We need to fix this, and it needs to start soon

AGRICULTURE is too big, too important, and too much of a competitive advantage for us to ignore any more

Here are some numbers to support why I should care about AG in our London market as a business case

We have the raw materials: Middlesex County alone contains more than 2,600 farms on more than 620,000 acres

We have Demand for products: London is an urban centre located in the heart of Ontario farming country. 150 million people live within a one day drive of London. Talk about being in the strategic “Catbird Seat”

We have Distribution: NAFTA superhighways 401/402 pass right through us on route to Windsor/Detroit, Buffalo/Niagara, Sarnia/Port Huron and Toronto.
We have the Environmental Advantage: London has an excellent and abundant fresh water supply from both lakes Erie and Huron.

We are in Canada which is the fourth largest agri-food exporter in the world and exports more than US$20.3 billion worth of food products every year to more than 175 countries.

STILL THINKING ABOUT LONDON’S BUSINESS CASE: Here’s more FAST FACTS

3,200 people are employed in both crop and animal production within the London CMA.

There are 455 companies producing crops and 757 companies producing animals in the London CMA.

The London CMA food and beverage processing industry consists of 87 companies employing 7,000 workers.

One in four of the world’s turkeys are hatched by Cuddy Farms, headquartered in the London region. One in four turkeys….we’ll maybe that’s one I shouldn’t be that proud of

The University of Western Ontario in London is home to the Centre for Human Nutrition and The Department of Plant Sciences

Ontario in particular has five key advantages over our competitors in AG, they include:

# 1 – SAFE, HIGH QUALITY FOOD
We have access to an abundant supply of high-quality, competitively priced ingredients, fresh water and land – an internationally recognized food inspection system – a commitment to employ food safety systems and standards

# 2 – WE ARE THE GATEWAY TO THE NORTH AMERICAN MARKET
Under (NAFTA), Canadian agriculture and agri-food companies enjoy duty free and open access to a North American market. This means a consumer base of nearly 400 million people with a combined GDP of more than US$11.4 trillion

# 3 – WE HAVE LOW BUSINESS COSTS
KPMG’s 2010 business cost study clearly demonstrates that Canada’s business costs are the lowest among
the G-7 with a 5% advantage over the United States.

# 4 – WE HAVE LEADING EDGE SCIENCE & INNOVATION
KPMG’s study reports that Canada is a leader in terms of research and development with a 12.9% cost advantage over the U.S. Canada offers an extremely supportive tax environment for R&D which is the most generous in the industrialized world.

# 5 – WE HAVE ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE PRODUCTION
As environmental stewards, Ontario farmers are moving proactively to: Integrate environmental considerations into their day-to-day planning

And With all of that still “We are not Together”

So why are we not together? I certainly don’t have all the answers but I do know if I start by doing something I might be able to convince others. So………………….

Here are ten things that we at the London Chamber will do to change that.

We will aggressively embrace the Agriculture sector by recruiting reps from farmers to food processors to help populate our Boards and Committees because that’s where the work gets done.

We will include an Agricultural focus in our policy work at all three levels of government because it is a competitive advantage

In the future we will host an annual celebration of Agriculture in London with a focus on local, fresh, and healthy foods

We will drive change at the OCC and CCC to include Agriculture as a key competitive advantage

We will include the Agricultural advantage in our Global efforts to expand export markets for our members and attract more FDI to London. We have been to China twice and we are heading for Brazil

We will include the Agriculture sector in our annual issues survey to determine what is impacting them and where we may be able to add our voices

We will expose our membership to keynote addresses form leaders in the Agriculture sector to better understand their issues

We will take the lead on developing exclusive supply agreements with local food processors and suppliers for our catering and banquet requirements

We will make a concerted effort to better understand the needs of the Agriculture sector vs. the wants of the development sector

And finally, we will work closely with groups like the Western Fair Association to forge better relations with the Agriculture community through initiatives like DistrictlyBusiness, Funny Business and support for their work with their Ag sector partners such as OLG.

Ladies and gentlemen – we know it’s going to take hard work and a lot of innovation and let me leave you with this story of innovation from the Agriculture sector and how innovation will be the ultimate driver of change.

Researchers at Western have revealed that they discovered the gene that has allowed them to produce additional limbs on ground foul.

And, at their experimental farm just outside London, we have learned that they have successfully bred the world’s first three-legged chickens and now have over 2000 of the birds.

I am told that this new breed can actually run at speeds clocked at 50 miles per hour and for shorter distances they can actually reach speeds of 70 miles per hour.

I asked the head researcher Dr. Warren Thompson, why they had chosen to breed a three legged chicken and guess what.

He tells me that the net yield by weight on these new breeds can produce as much as 35% more edible meat and therefore 35% more profit for breeders.

I asked the Dr. Thompson if there was any difference in taste with these birds vs. conventional chickens

The Dr. replied “Don’t know, haven’t caught one yet.”

Thanks so much for listening and if we do nothing else, can we please “Get Together”

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Canada’s Skills Crisis and a Local Solution

Much has been written about Canada’s growing skills crisis. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says it’s our number one barrier to competitiveness. Despite the current unemployment levels we have a growing labour shortage and more people with the right skills are needed for us to compete in a global, knowledge-based economy.

Why is this important? Because better trained workers with the right skills are essential to improving Canada’s productivity. A more highly skilled workforce will produce value-added goods and services and the use of new technologies that can maximize productivity and improve our quality of life. Not just a noble goal – an essential one.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s “Emerging Stronger” document also focuses on building a 21st century workforce through workplace training, utilizing newcomers’ skills and apprenticeship reform. The challenges however are huge. There are not enough students entering skilled trades and Ontario’s working-age population will decline by almost 9% by 2036.With an increasing seniors population there will be a labour deficit of more than one million workers by 2031. Add to this – immigrant underemployment costs us between $3.4 and $5 billion a year.

How then do we build a 21st century workforce? Apart from the education and training of domestic workers, there is a local success story that has, in part begun to address the challenge.

The London Chamber in partnership with the London Middlesex Immigrant Employment Council (LMIEC) recently wrapped up a year-long project titled Global Experience @ Work (GE@W). The project was an initiative of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and is part of its strategy to better integrate internationally trained individuals (ITIs) into the workforce.
The LMIEC is led by regional employers that are committed to fully engaging skilled immigrants in the local labour market.

The mission of the project was to increase awareness among London Chamber members (particularly SMEs) of the need to attract, recruit, hire and retain ITIs; and to connect London Chamber members with the tools and resources available to them.

This would then see more ITIs being mentored by, placed in, or hired by Chamber member companies and would complement existing ITI recruitment and retention initiatives within the community. Was the mission accomplished? And how! In fact the results were rather stunning.

Specifically we wanted to connect 50 ITIs with employment, mentorship or a volunteer work experience placement opportunity. To date, 109 ITIs have found commensurate employment, been matched with a mentor or received a volunteer work experience placement.
These include; 34 who found commensurate employment at a Chamber member company; 44 were matched with a mentor at a Chamber company; and 31 were provided with a volunteer placement opportunity.

As one ITI participant noted, “I am more positive, confident, ambitious and ready to work harder because of my (volunteer) placement. The idea that I would willingly work unpaid resonates with employers”. In fact this ITI participant has already secured employment within his field which he attributes to the exposure he got through GE@W.

Chamber members have really benefitted from this initiative. There were 351 employer outreach visits as of August and of this number 154 were business development meetings/exchanges.

As well 73 participating Chamber members have either hired skilled immigrants in positions commensurate with their international education and professional experience or used Skills International to recruit skilled immigrant candidates or mentored skilled immigrants through LMIEC mentoring initiatives. Still others have hosted Canadian work experience placements for internationally trained individuals or recognized international credentials.

The LMIEC/Chamber partnership proved valuable in four key areas: employers are more engaged and informed; immigrant outcomes have improved; it has enhanced the image of LMIEC within the business community; and the Chamber has provided added value for its members.

In addition, GE@W helped to bring diversity and the importance of ITIs to the London Chamber community. The Chamber’s 3-year strategic plan now recognizes diversity as a central platform. In fact, in the last year the Chamber has added approximately 80 net members, and according to the current Chamber President, Gus Kotsiomitis, many of these new members come from the Asian and Hispanic Business Opportunities Committees.

It’s also Kotsiomiti’s view that through initiatives like this we can attract innovative emerging companies; help existing companies to expand and attract jobs that raise the standard of living for our entire community.

Kotsiomitis adds, “It is imperative to continue to work with our partners to maintain the momentum this project has begun. No other community has the tools we do that supports business and attracts ITIs. We can’t lose this opportunity”.

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Shady Business with a Purpo$e

You would think that planting a million trees in a city that brands itself ‘The Forest City” would be a real walk in the park. But as with all good and noble causes, it’s never easy – in fact it’s a real challenge.

But that is precisely what the good people behind the Million Tree Challenge have taken on. A massive, audacious, in your face challenge that is designed to set London on its ear or more accurately, to put some real numbers behind our Forest City brand.

The mission sounds simple. Convince or inspire Londoners to plant one million trees over the next ten years. Phase one of the mission, calls on every Londoner (about 350,000 of us) to plant one tree over the next three years by the end of 2014. Sounds simple right? Not!

The case for tree planting is a relatively easy sell if you are among the environmentally savvy group we like to call tree huggers. There I said it. But the fact is they already get it (the mission). The challenge for the Million Tree group is not with this group, the challenge is with business and industry to get on board and move the numbers over the top.

Yes there are some outstanding examples of businesses and corporations that already do a great job of planting trees in a strategic, well thought out manner. Trojan Technologies, Trudell Medical and Union Gas all come to mind. But, sadly they are among the few that have a plan and a corporate philosophy behind their plantings. And, there are a vast number of homeowners and home builders that do an equally good job. Here again, not enough of them to get the job done.

So why trees in the first place and is London really in a position to lay claim to the Forest City mantle? Actually – not so much. While it’s true that London has 4.4 million trees and a leaf cover of over 24%, sadly we are well below the 40% recommended leaf cover according to the American Forests and with only 7.3% woodland cover we are not even close to the 30% recommended by Environment Canada.

So what to do and what exactly is the business case for a million trees? Why would the Chamber guy bother to write about it? Well it’s really quite simple. Trees make money and they save money. And trees cost money too. In fact if we had to replace London’s trees within our Urban Growth Boundary, the tab would be an eye-popping $1.5 billion.

Trees as we know are the lungs of our cities and towns and one mature tree produces enough oxygen for 4 people each year. Planted near buildings and homes, trees save Londoners over $1.7 million a year in heating and cooling costs and act as a windbreak in the winter reducing heating and cooling costs by as much as 30%.
Trees can and do increase property values by as much as 20% and just one tree over a 50 year period creates $62,000 worth of pollution control. And trees are a natural storm water management system catching and holding water in their leaves and roots. Trees and other vegetation break the fall of the water and ease its impact on the ground below. And roots hold the soil in place.

Trees fight air pollution in more ways than one. By reducing temperatures, they slow chemical processes that raise the ozone level. Studies at California’s Lawrence Berkely Laboratory indicate 30 percent of a city’s air pollution is related to increased temperatures. The studies show that each degree above 72 degrees increases smog chances by 6 percent. San Antonio for instance, is near the level of air pollution at which federal law can start limiting the construction of new factories. So air pollution is very directly related to our economic development. Could this happen in London? Food for thought.

Trees also fight pollution by taking tons of carbon dioxide out of the air, holding on to the carbon and releasing oxygen.
In the retail sector, trees (or their absence) can have a huge influence on visual preference, place perceptions, patronage behaviors and product pricing. Studies have proven that entertainment and shopping times are increased with trees and that a tree canopy boosts time spent by up to 50%. Consumer preferences are lower without trees, higher with (large) trees and product pricing goes up as consumers are willing to pay
9-12% higher with trees than without – who knew?

Certainly London is not unique in its challenge of maintaining or growing a healthy urban forest. Like other cities the pressures of land use, growth, tree diseases and pests, road construction and vandalism are just some of the threats to our urban forests. But many of these same cities (even those without Forest in their name) have accepted the challenge and have begun an aggressive campaign to plant trees and add to their leaf cover.

Should London do any less? I certainly hope not. After all we have a brand to protect, future generations to consider, and a solid business case for getting on board. For my money, London’s Million Tree Challenge is exactly what we need in this City but we’ll need to act fast if we want to achieve our collective goal of 1 million trees by 2021.

Want to be part of a really sensible, audacious grassroots (okay tree roots) movement? Then simply get on board and be part of the Million Tree Solution. Just go to http://www.milliontrees.ca and get started. London the Forest City is counting on you.

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Why the EU-Canada deal needs to happen

For reasons that still leave me, and many Londoners puzzled if not totally baffled, London’s City Council voted last night to send a message to Ottawa that they want no part of the looming Canada-European Union Free Trade Deal. Huh??

Let me get this straight, London City Council, who’s members complain regularly that they have too much on their plate and can’t make the committee meetings that already have scheduled, have elected to engage in a debate that is totally under the purview of the Federal Government and the results of which will not alter the outcome of the deal one iota. It somewhat analogous to the Feds debating over which potholes the City should fix in what order.
In fact the only outcome of last night’s debate is that we have once again sent a very negative message to the rest of the world that we are simply not interested in being a part of the very competitive global marketplace.

And it’s this repeatedly schizophrenic attitude on the part of Council that drives our business community crazy. On the one hand, we send our Mayor and a delegation of London business leaders to Japan, Korea, and China for the express purpose of opening new markets for our own exporters while at the same time attempting to attract new capital and jobs to come to London. Then you get a decision like last night’s that seems in total contrast to the Mayor’s (Council supported) mission to Asia.
Similarly, we claim we want to be on the world stage by attracting such events as the World Figure Skating Championships but we don’t want to be part of that same world stage when it comes to commerce. Go figure.

For the record, the Chamber has urged the Government to simply maintain the momentum towards concluding negotiations (emphasis on the negotiations part because that’s what governments do when they enter these deals), the details of which are comprehensive and very difficult.
Canada’s business community supports an EU-Canada agreement because it gives us an opportunity to preserve and enhance our economic well being by facilitating growth, innovation, and expansion in foreign trade and investment.

In fact Canada has a business sector that includes many world class companies and firms in sectors such as services, advanced manufacturing, and high technology. Canada also has a highly skilled work force. In order to capitalize on these advantages, we cannot confine ourselves to our domestic market.
A comprehensive agreement with the EU has the potential of boosting Canada’s income by $12 billion annually and increasing bilateral trade by 20 percent. The EU is already Canada’s second largest trading partner and the world’s largest importing market for goods, more than 2.7 times larger than the United States.

London manufacturers make products today that embody inputs that originate from many countries. Businesses need to have access to globally competitive inputs in order to remain competitive. Barriers to entry increase the cost of these inputs, thus increasing the cost to those consumers who have no alternative products to turn to, or forcing businesses to locate outside of Canada.

As we debate the pros and cons of the EU-Canada deal, other competitor countries have already entered into an economic and trade agreement with the EU, including Mexico – a NAFTA country. Others will follow. Just what we needed – Mexico with an advantage over Canada.

An agreement with the EU will further expand the global supply chain that London businesses can participate in and have access to, not to mention that the agreement would give Canadian/London businesses preferential access to more than 500 million consumers.

Although there are more issues on the table for this agreement than there were with NAFTA, they remain fundamentally about the rules of competition. They are issues that we will face in other trade talks, such as those dealing with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

This is the time to devise a framework on how to address these issues for not only this agreement but also with an eye to future multilateral and bilateral agreements. In dealing with these issues, we need to ensure that we maintain our focus on fairer, more open competition. Failing to do so will, in our view, reduce opportunities for a generation of Canadians and hamper a much needed private-sector-led growth in an era of fiscal austerity.

London City Council voted against supporting the deal because they said they did not have enough details. And, like City Council, we want more details as well. Unfortunately, all we (the City Council) have succeeded in doing is letting the rest of the world know that London is either not interested in being a part of a much larger economic global village or that we prefer to pass judgment before we have the facts. Either message will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of those counties that we might have partnered with. Sometimes the best message is to say nothing.

In my view, while we await the outcome of these talks, Londoners would be better served by a Council whose focus is on property taxes, infrastructure, emergency services, affordable housing, development charges and a host of other municipally controlled expenses and leave the job of negotiating free trade deals with the appropriate levels of government.

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Successful Day in Nanjing and Praise for Team London

Nanjing, China

We have just now concluded our last, and I would argue our most successful day of the entire mission. This should not come as a surprise given the groundwork that was previously established with our sister city of Nanjing along with the warm relationships that have been built since 1997.

Our day began with another roundtable exchange this time hosted by Mr. Hua Chen, Deputy Director of Foreign Affairs.  Mr. Chen warmly welcomed our delegation and then showed us a spectacular video of Nanjing`s 12th 5 year plan. Their progress and world class vision of how a city can work and grow in harmony with their heritage was nothing short of stunning.

Our Mayor offered his enthusiastic response and again invited Nanjing to join us for the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships in London. John Winston, get the air mattresses readyJ.

After the Mayor, Peter White of the LEDC gave their delegation a thorough overview of London`s economic advantages followed by Lily Wang representing the Chamber`s own Asian Business Opportunities Committee (ABOC).

Lily turned the mic over to Andrea Feddema of Ernst & Young and then to Barry Cleaver of Siskinds.  Both seemed to garner the attention of the Nanjing delegates and both have developed several relationships here that could lead to additional business for their respective firms.

 

Andrea Feddema dazzles Nanjing delegates with just the "Tax" facts

Over 30 of their local business leaders and industry reps took part in the exchange.

I indicated to the Nanjing group that although we (LCC) were late coming to the party, we will be quick to respond to the business opportunities that now exist. Immediately after the roundtable, Chairman Chen abruptly called the meeting to an end so we could keep on schedule for the signing of the MOU to follow. Sound like someone you know? 

After a cordial exchange between Nanjing`s Deputy Mayor and Mayor Fontana, I again had the extraordinary honour to sign, along with Vice Chair Liu Yongwu of the CCPIT of Nanjing and the Nanjing Chamber of International Commerce, our final MOU of the mission.

Deputy Mayor of Nanjing welcomes our Mayor Fontana

CEO of the London Chamber, Gerry Macartney signs official MOU with Liu Yongwu, Vice Chair of Nanjing's CCPIT

The focus of this MOU is to allow our two great communities to capitalize on existing economic opportunities and to encourage the development and promotion of economic cooperation and communication between the business community in Nanjing and in London Canada.

Before we make our way home I just want to say how very proud I am of the entire London Team and honoured I was to be a part of this extraordinary mission.

Lily Wang of ScienceTech and our very own Vice-Chair of our ABOC committee has been an absolutely invaluable asset to our group as she carved her way through numerous officials and authorities just to ensure our comfort and safety. Not only did she interpret for every one of our delegates, she is in her own right a London Ambassador Extraordinaire. Lily you are indeed priceless.

To Andrea and Barry, thank you both for your professionalism, your decorum under pressure, your unwavering support of the mission and our city and most of all for your friendship and camaraderie. You represented London`s business community with flying colours. You both rocked!

To Peter White of the LEDC, your vast knowledge of London`s Economic advantages, your broader knowledge of world economic conditions, and your respectful, polished approach in presenting our case were invaluable. You were, as always, our go-to encyclopedia of information when it came to responding to questions our friends from China had for us. We are lucky to have Peter White in London.  You are the rock.

To Grant Hopcroft, you are the eyes and ears of diplomacy. You are the tireless support system for a machine that does not always function at its best, yet, you find a way to keep us organized and right on track for all of the critical parts of our agendas. You are the calming influence that all of us needed whenever a curve ball (and there were many) came our way. It`s little wonder you were selected as the City`s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Thanks coach.

To Marian Hughes. Where were you when I was looking for Canada`s best Administrative Assistant. Tireless doesn`t begin to describe your efforts and the quality of work you put out is simply incomparable. If the City of London was ever hit by a crippling disaster, I would look to you to organize our way back to good health. “Sista“…..you`re the best I have ever worked with. Thanks

And finally to Mayor Joe, let me just say to those who doubt your leadership skills – you would be very, very wrong! To those who would say you can`t think on your feet – oh so wrong again! To those who suggest you lack the finesse or culture for the job – okay they may have something on the finesse thing but make no mistake – it is this very quality, this infectious enthusiasm that has charmed every single government official, business leader, party rep and dignitary we have come in contact with since we started the mission.  And the incredible thing is that because of our gruelling schedule, you do this often, with little or no sleep. Joe, you have made your mark on China and my guess is that it`s an indelible mark. I am proud of what you have accomplished in China on behalf of London. Well done!

So, what will come of all this?  Fair question. In my view we have opened new doors and behind those doors there are easily a million new opportunities. Will we be able to capitalize on all of them?  Of course not. Will we get at least some new business from all of this. We already have and there are great prospects that will most assuredly fall into place in the very near future.

For London, the answer is obvious. I was told by at least four of our hosts that they will be welcoming several more Canadian Mayors and their business delegations in the next two weeks alone.  And they have hosted numerous Canadian Mayors in the past year. The point, quite simply is (and you`ll forgive my slang), we can`t not do this.

The world marketplace demands that cities like London meet their new business partners while the opportunities still exist.  It will do little to help London`s economy after all of our competitors have beat us to the punch. I am glad we went.  I am delighted with the business that was developed while we were here, I am honoured to have been a part of team London, and I am totally optimistic that this mission and those that may follow will bear the sweetest kind of fruit for London and our friends in China.

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