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Message from the President and CEO – Summer Update

Dear Members,Happy summer! I hope you are enjoying all that our beautiful city has to offer in the summer including our beautiful greenspaces and the plethora of activities and events that have something for everyone.I am reaching out today as we reflect on the impact of our work in the first half of this year and how we might use those insights to inform our priorities for the balance of the year. In doing so, what is top of mind for us is the engagement and support of you, our members. Thank you for ensuring Ottawa has a strong voice of business. Your commitment to being a member, sponsor, subject matter expert, and/or volunteer ensures the private sector has a mechanism for shaping our future. And thank you for encouraging other entrepreneurs and executives to follow your lead! We are very proud of the work we have done together over these last three challenging years. And confident in a bright future for Ottawa based on our strong foundation of assets and the depth of our partnerships.We have just had the first meeting of our new board of directors. It was intense! In a good way. I can assure you; your OBOT board is a determined, future thinking and passionate group of leaders. Together with our many volunteers, we are working steadfastly on your behalf to create a competitive business environment and drive community prosperity for all. We do this by offering you relevant business benefits and programs to support your growth. Things like access to resources, opportunities to promote your business and your brand, save money and network with like-minded business leaders.We also fulfill the unique role of advocating for all businesses in Ottawa, every sector and size, at every level of government. Over the pandemic, we consistently advocated for business support while seeking ways to build a strong foundation for our future. We experienced the highest levels of collaboration and communication from our partners and political leaders. Now we must build on this work as we navigate post pandemic recovery, the emerging trends and the opportunities for transformation. We have identified a few key priorities that require urgent attention.Downtowns across the country have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and perhaps none more so than our nation’s capital. Downtown Ottawa as a key cultural and economic driver for the whole city, our region, and our country. Pre-pandemic, over one quarter of our workforce was downtown and over 50% was public sector. Hybrid work is here to stay. Our downtown must transform to be more diverse, resilient, and vibrant. This is why we have declared it as a top priority and are advocating for every level of government to do the same. We have been working with local leaders, partners, urban experts, and government officials to design a roadmap for transformation. The transformation is multi faceted and full of exciting opportunities. Stay tuned for an update in the fall.Small businesses are the heart and soul of our community. Collectively, they provide many jobs, offer unique products and services, and support community causes. Local entrepreneurs are truly invested in city building and supporting the people of our city. During the pandemic we were very focused on advocacy and programming to support local small businesses as they were most impacted by the counter measures, especially in the hardest hit sectors. Today, they continue to be challenged by rising costs, interest rates, labour, and supply chain issues. All while trying to rebuild revenues and manage the copious amounts of debt that they were forced to take on to survive. That is why we are calling on the federal government to extend the deadline for the CEBA repayment and save more businesses. We continue to work with the City of Ottawa and many local stakeholders to align priorities on our economic growth agenda including high growth areas like tech and tourism. The Ottawa business community has once again identified talent as their top issue in our annual business growth survey. We have been working with local post secondary institutions on initiatives such as Hire Local Ottawa, supporting JA Ottawa and advocating for provincial and federal policies that drive talent attraction including immigration and infrastructure.We are committed to our mission of cultivating a thriving world class business community. One that drives affordable, inclusive, and sustainable city building and community prosperity. Together, we need to protect and enhance the quality of life for all. Following an unprecedented pandemic, we have a once in a generation opportunity to build up Ottawa. Our business leaders are at the ready. That is why we have launched a new pillar partners program to accelerate and elevate our advocacy and economic development work. Thank you to our inaugural pillar partners, Colonnade Bridgeport and Meridian Credit Union for your leadership. This initiative is designed to engage members who see the importance of private sector leadership to shape the future of our city and understand how it impacts our businesses, our employees, and our economy. Please reach out if you would like to learn more.Finally, thank you once more for your ongoing support. Your Ottawa Board of Trade leaders are passionate about supporting you and building up Ottawa. We are grateful for your determination and innovation as executives, entrepreneurs, and employees in our business community. Ottawa is a magnificent city with strong leadership, exciting things happening now and new opportunities on the horizon. Be an ambassador. Invite those in your network to come to Ottawa.Let’s build up Ottawa. Together, we will. Yours truly, Sueling Ching

President & CEO | Ottawa Board of Trade