Chamber of Commerce expresses concerns over transparency of ‘hydro sale’

In the first of what is expected to be a regular “report” from the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce to appear in Lambton Shield, President and CEO Rory Ring has expressed concerns over the transparency of the Ontario government as it applies to its sale of public assets, specifically shares of Hydro One, which the Liberal government says it will use to pay for infrastructure improvements.

Ring also used the first episode of the “Chamber Report” to discuss other issues of importance to the organization and its members, including:

  • the need for an “oversized load corridor” for the area (and what that means);
  • why the corridor is important for all businesses, not just those who would directly benefit from being able to move large fabricated pieces from the place of manufacture to a harbour;
  • why competitive rates for electricity are important for the future growth of the Sarnia-Lambton area; and
  • how the Bio-Industrial Park (where BioAmber has opened its new plant is located) is able to help companies locating there to reduce their cost of power.

Ring joined the Chamber as its CEO in December 2012.

His video report also includes commentary on the value of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, how small and medium-size businesses benefit from membership in the Chamber, how Sarnia-Lambton looks to renew its heritage of research, and the value of immigration in helping to grow the local economy.

First on Ring’s agenda for the Chamber Report was to be front and centre on how the organization sees the transparency issue regarding the asset sale by the Ontario government playing out for the business community:

A so-called “Oversized Load Corridor” for the Sarnia-Lambton area would give companies easy access to a St. Clair River harbour (in Sarnia or further south), giving them a competitive advantage. Ring explains:

The issue is important, Ring said, not just to fabrication companies but all members of the business community.

Continuing on the issue of power rates as an important part of the decision a company makes on where to locate a new plant or expand its operation, Ring talked about the need for Sarnia-Lambton for competitive electricity rates for its members, existing and new.

The Chamber CEO also talked about how a company like Bio-Amber, which just opened its new bio-succinic plant, can benefit from being “within the fence” of a power-generator like TransAlta.

Examples like Bio-Amber and the Western Research Park Sarnia-Lambton are good for business in the area, said Ring.

Sarnia-Lambton, with its heritage of research, is well-poised to see additional growth opportunities as that strategy of growth continues to take root, said Ring.

Ring also discussed the importance of a vibrant small and medium-size business sector in the overall economic health of the region and, in particular, how the Chamber of Commerce can help a business manage the “non-core” elements.

Just how important is an issue like immigration to an area like Sarnia-Lambton. And why? Ring explains the key points:

Finally, Ring, as CEO of the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce, made the pitch for why a company, large or small, should be a member of the organization.

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