A survey of local businesses conducted through the assistance of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and other business groups in the area has resulted in a strategy designed to broaden the number of companies who are looking to export goods and services.
David Moody, who is acting chair of the Global Business Opportunities Community in addition to his job as project leader, Business Growth Services at the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership, says the initial survey identified an interest that continues to form the basis of an ongoing strategy.
“We interviewed a number of businesses in the area that had indicated they were either existing exporters or had an interest in becoming exporters,” said Moody.
Members of GBOC include government representatives at the federal and provincial levels as well as the County of Lambton, Lambton College, and members of the local Chamber of Commerce.
Representatives from Export Development Canada and Global Affairs Canada are also part of GBOC.
In the early days of the initiative, which included reaching out to prospective clients—companies that could benefit from the connections the group hopes to make—Reid Campbell of Creative Education (also known as Great Pretenders) stepped forward for help in expanding its global presence.
A manufacturer of children’s dramatic role play costumes, Point Edward-based Great Pretenders is the last costume apparel manufacturers in North America, according to Campbell, who co-owns the firm.
“We learned many years ago that our choice was to grow continually or wither and die,” said Campbell.
“We chose growth but we did not do it on our own,” said Campbell. “We have been the recipient of technical, financial and government support that has enabled us to continue to manufacture.”
Campbell cites support at the municipal, provincial and federal levels as being critical to the strategy Great Pretenders continues to pursue.
“One of our biggest supporters has been the GBOC group within the Chamber of Commerce,” he said. “Its biggest gift to Great Pretenders was bringing together different levels of government support agencies for a general meeting that helped us better understand the various programs available.”
Moving forward, David Moody and his colleagues at GBOC would love to see more companies like Great Pretenders reaching out for help as a first step in their exporting journey.
“The idea of identifying companies that need the help is very much one of our goals,” said Moody. “What we found with the survey we did was that the majority of companies, even those who were already involved in exporting, weren’t necessarily aware of the support services that are available.”
Here he pauses for a moment, putting forward a question
“How much more successful might some of those companies have been if they were able to take advantages of the resources that are available?”
Connecting with Moody or the Chamber’s representative on GBOC could be a great first step. Moody can be reached by email at [email protected]. Another contact is Monica Shepley, the Chamber’s manager of Advocacy and Policy Development. Shepley can be reached by email at [email protected].