After two years of little or no growth, the Brampton Board of Trade wants to expand and plans to have more events next year to directly help local companies and boost its prospects.
“I’d like to see a far greater number of Brampton businesses belong to the Brampton Board of Trade,” new chairman Glenn Williams told YourMississaugaBiz.com.
About 1,000 of Brampton’s 8,000 companies belong to the board, but that’s below membership penetration levels at other boards of trade and chambers of commerce in places like Peterborough or Guelph.
On the services side, Williams said the BBOT will continue events like the mayor’s luncheon and Business Person of the Year to boost interest, but also add more direct services and information sessions to help local companies.
Local boards are usually involved in lobbying municipal governments on issues important to their members — ranging from taxes and red tape to jobs and local planning and development.
But the groups also provide networking and other social events and information sessions to help businesses improve local ties and get answers to everyday business problems such as financing, the use of social media and troubles recruting skilled workers.
Williams, a certified management accountant, cited a session last month where members learned about a provincial program where they could access up to $30,000 to help them export their goods and services.
Williams said bringing awareness to this international trade program led to a few attendees actively applying for or receiving the funding. “More importantly they’re going to grow their business and hopefully create jobs in Brampton,” he said.
“We’re trying to create a few extra points of contact where someone can become involved and to get more direct business.”
The BBOT has an event in December on how foreign trained professionals can integrate into the Canadian economy.
The trade group’s focus on international trade also includes a recently signed deal with the Canadian-Pakistan Business Council. Nearly a quarter of Brampton’s population is of Punjabi origin and thousands of small businesses want to expand trade ties with Pakistan.
Williams said there’s even more deals in the discussion and negotiation stage, including one involving funding from a government agency. “I think you’re going to see more of those agreements signed,” he said.
“You’re going to see more joint activities take place with all of our members, to network, to get people to know each other, to exchange business. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
In the coming months, Williams said the BBOT will also release more specific policies on its website so members and the general public know its position on how the city should be represented on Peel Council and other issues.
“We’re thinking if the general public can see how the Brampton Board of Trade is making contributions to the betterment of the business community in general in Brampton, they’ll want to belong and support that,” he said.
Williams noted that an increase in membership will also give the BBOT a bigger voice and more clout when they do have an opinion. “People do listen to us,” he said. “We just want to use that to our advantage and improve business in Brampton.”
In addition to being a BBOT member since 2001, Williams also has five years of experience on the board of directors and has also worked on the finance committee. He also owns the Brampton-based Williams Accounting Corporation, a bookkeeping, accounting and tax services small business established in 1997.