The year in Review with Darla Lindbjerg
With only a few more weeks left in 2018, we asked CEO, Darla Lindbjerg, to provide her thoughts on the year that was, and the year to come.
What were the main highlights for the Chamber over the past year?
2018 marked my first full year in the role of CEO at the Chamber. A number of items stand out as being key to the year’s progress.
Our Board continued to move in a progressive direction, releasing the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. This plan focuses on key goals such as advocacy, membership and Indigenous economic growth. From an operations perspective, we restructured our staff team to include three new positions to oversee key areas of our work, including policy and government relations, and member experience. Also, we relocated our office space to a new location that can accommodate the future needs of our members and staff and aligns with the updated vision for our Chamber.
In terms of a top event, hosting former First Lady, Michelle Obama at SaskTel Centre was a definite highlight. And from an advocacy perspective, the Saskatoon Chamber communicated key positions on pipeline development, the carbon tax, and local municipal items including the preliminary budget and ride sharing. We also held our inaugural Chamber Summit to develop our 2019 Advocacy plan going forward.
Looking back on 2018, what was the most important economic development?
In general, I believe the uncertainty around NAFTA and trade truly impacted business and had economic implications at all levels, from the local to international level. It was great to see resolution with the USMCA, however I do believe we’ve learned a valuable lesson in diversification and ensuring we look to other markets to engage and do business.
Looking into 2019, what are you hoping for the most?
I am hoping for another productive and innovative year, where we continue to support Saskatoon’s business community grow and diversify. In a recent survey to members, 67% of those who responded noted that they have plans for growth or expansion over the next 24 months. This is a really encouraging sign for our local economy and business community. The Chamber is here to support local business through advocacy on multiple issues at all levels of government, as well as connect our members through our numerous events throughout the year. We will continue to work hard for our members and provide services that result in making Saskatoon’s business community thrive.