Surrey Business News
Board Chair Message Signifies Business Leadership During the Pandemic
– However, some industries estimated to actually have a higher level of employment than February 2020.
Doug Tennant The COVID-19 pandemic impacted us all in 2020 and will continue to do so in 2021. For the Surrey Board of Trade’s (SBOT) business members, it has been a trying time, with safety protocols making it impossible to do ‘business as usual’. The SBOT, under the stalwart leadership of Anita Huberman, also had to shift the usual manner of doing business to achieve our ends.
We moved to virtual platforms for networking, educational, and gala events, while also shifting our advocacy to focus on the pressing pandemic-related needs of our membership. The board members of the SBOT have also shifted the way we go about our governance work, while still fulfilling our mandate of guiding, monitoring, learning, and consulting during 2020. One of the immediate shifts the SBOT Board made in March of 2020 was taking our meetings fully online, using Zoom as our platform. In some ways our board meetings have been enhanced by using a digital platform as our discussions and deliberations have become more focused and organized.
Our ability to guide and to monitor the SBOT was not negatively impacted by the pandemic as our
CEO maintained her Ends and Executive Limitations reporting, and external monitoring through our auditors, BDO Canada, was unchanged.
The SBOT Board is responsible for seeking education in areas that will assist our governance abilities and our understanding of the issues facing our membership
(both before and during the pandemic). Board members participated in governance webinars, reviewed and discussed reports and articles on good governance, and received in-house policy governance training during the pandemic. We also requested and received reports on the impact of COVID-19 on Surrey businesses.
One Board accountability that has been impacted by COVID-19 is our responsibility to consult with our ‘owners’, who we defined as the business members of the SBOT. PRE-COVID 19, this would be done informally at the SBOT’S in-person events and formally at the November Business in Surrey breakfast.
While Board members have participated in many of the online networking events hosted by the SBOT, the ability to have person-toperson conversations is very much reduced on an online platform. The Board has still found ways to consult directly with sub-sections of our ownership.
Many of our business members have had to fight to make it through 2020 and the pandemic. I am feeling optimistic that the year 2021 will be better.
BC businesses wanting to reduce air pollution and save on fuel costs can access more in provincial rebates through the Cleanbc Specialty-use Vehicle Incentive (SUVI) and Commercial Vehicle Pilot (CVP) programs.
The SUVI program is receiving $31 million in funding through Strongerbc, the Province’s economic recovery plan, to double the maximum rebates for medium and heavy-duty vehicles available for BC businesses, local and regional governments, public sector organizations and non-profit organizations in their adoption of specialty-use zero-emission vehicles. Those purchasing eligible vehicles will have access to 33% of the cost, up to a maximum of $100,000 per vehicle, up from $50,000 maximum.
Vehicles eligible for SUVI rebates include medium- and heavy-duty vehicles such as battery electric or hydrogenfuelled passenger buses, airport and port service vehicles and heavy-duty transport trucks, as well as smaller specialty-use vehicles such as motorcycles, cargo e-bikes, and low-speed utility trucks.
To further support one of
BC’S most impacted sectors, tourism companies, including restaurants and other hospitality businesses, are eligible for double the rebates and can access 66% of the cost of an eligible medium- or heavy-duty vehicle, such as a food delivery vehicle or shuttle bus, up to a maximum of $100,000 per vehicle.
In 2018, BC’S commercial transport sector accounted for approximately 60% of BC’S transport emissions and 22% of total provincial emissions.
In the last 100 years, there have been 14 recessions, 25 bear markets, 1 global depression, double-digit inflation and interest rates, countless wars, conflicts and natural disasters, and one global pandemic (COVID-19).
During this time, more than 1 billion people have been lifted out of poverty, life expectancy has doubled, child mortality has been cut by 50%, and the advancements in health care, technology, and literacy have been truly staggering.
The world is a tremendous place where the combined impact of humankind and free enterprise markets have dramatically improved the standard of living for billions of people.
Main point – Out of problems come opportunity, if we focus on seeing it!
While the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant economic lockdown have had a terrible toll on people and businesses and will do so for some time to come, there will be opportunities. Right now, we are experiencing a number of major societal and economic trends that will create new opportunities for business for many years to come:
• Interest rates are likely to remain low
• Government action is creating stimulative consumer and business benefits;
• The pandemic is reallocating discretionary spending;
• COVID-19 is accelerating the adoption of new consumer behaviours; and
• The rising millennial demographic is creating new market opportunities.
How do you take advantage of the changing conditions to find new opportunities for your business? Strategy 1: Optimize What You Have Now
Think about how you can leverage all your current resources, relationships and customers. Sell more of what you have to your current customers. Sell something new to your current customers. Or, ramp up sales and get new customers.
Strategy 2: Listen to Your Customers!
As consumer sentiment is changing rapidly, there has never been a better time to truly listen to and understand the needs of your customers.
Strategy 3: Create New, Post-pandemic Products and Services
As the pandemic shifts to a new phase, now is a great time to gain a competitive advantage by launching new products and services, especially if your competitors are retrenching. Figure out where your market is going and what you can offer of value that will give you an edge when the lockdowns end, and the economy returns to full strength.
The economy will stabilize eventually. Use the time now to position your business for the emerging opportunities.
Anita Huberman Surrey Board of Trade The Surrey Board of Trade’s 5th Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report on Covid19-related impacts indicates that 29,000 jobs have been recovered since the beginning of the pandemic. Now Surrey is in a net deficit of just over
Human Capital Strategies 8,000 jobs, down from a peak of over 37,000 jobs lost since the beginning of the pandemic. “While other surveys and statistics show dire business futures, Surrey shows good economic progression and a positive economic future,” said
Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “However, we can’t lose sight of those businesses that are the hardest hit by the pandemic – and needing continued support by business organizations and government.”
• The total estimated net deficit of jobs in Surrey since February 2020 is now just over 8,000 jobs, down from a peak of over 37,000 jobs lost.
• Since the end of July 2020, Surrey has recovered over 29,000 jobs (over 78% of the jobs lost between March and July 2020) with over 4,500 of these recovered jobs being attributed to the month of December. In the last half of 2020, the number of jobs has been on a steady incline.
• The Utilities industry is the only industry in Surrey that has trended in the opposite direction of overall jobs, with significant gains in the first half of 2020 (over 1,000 jobs gained) and consistent losses in the second half (over 750 jobs lost).
• The industries that have seen the strongest recovery, in terms of number of jobs recovered since July, include: Accommodation & Food Services (almost 7,000 jobs); Business, Building & Other Support Services (over 4,100 jobs); and Transportation & Warehousing (over 3,300 jobs).
• Employment losses by occupation in December 2020 were seen in Manufacturing & Utilities occupations (approximately 690 jobs), Health occupations (approximately
400 jobs), and Art, Culture, Recreation & Sport occupations (approximately 187 jobs) in Surrey.
• Though Sales & Services occupations have seen a steady increase in jobs since July (over 1,000 jobs gained in December 2020), these occupations have seen the greatest overall loss in Surrey (over 10,000 jobs lost) since the beginning of the pandemic.
• Manufacturing & Utilities occupations show an overall net gain of jobs when compared to February 2020 (approximately 1,000 jobs), however these occupations have continually posted a job loss in every month of Q4 2020.
• Though in December, some jobs were recovered in both of the following industries, they have seen the greatest overall losses since February 2020: Wholesale & Retail (over 5,700 or 11.3% of jobs lost); followed by Construction (over 5,500 or 17.3% of jobs lost); Other Services (almost 4,100 or 26.9% of jobs lost); and Transportation & Warehousing (almost 2,200 or 7.9% of jobs lost).