For the past year, Todd Corrigall and his Chamber of Commerce team have been gathering true leaders to impart true economic wisdom for this area. It builds the TrueNorth Business Development Forum, a one-day power-talk about the opportunities coming this way and the ones already here.
TrueNorth is always linked literally to the B.C. Natural Resources Forum. The massive resources convention runs Jan. 22-24 and the chamber event happens on Monday, leading into the forum.
"We don't want to replicate," said Corrigall, CEO of the Prince George Chamber of Commerce.
"There's obviously a large number of delegates coming in from out of town, which helps local business in that literal way, but when Val Litwin (president of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce) and I start to sit down to discuss objectives for the event each year, we look to our mission statement and look to our feedback from our members. What are the business impacts coming on the horizon? What's happening in the labour market? What businesses on the periphery of these big major projects can become more closely related to the opportunities ahead? How can we get in closer touch with people within government, within the procurement process of major proponents, so we can have those door-opening discussions for local business?"
The speakers this year are an all-star team of business voices.
Author and motivational speaker David Irvine will deliver the day's first session entitled Authentic Leadership-Building Accountability In A Culture of Engagement. Corrigall described it as an insight into learning "the difference between a boss and a leader and what it takes to earn the right to be called a leader. Discover the fundamentals of authentic leadership and what it means to build a leadership culture within your organization and beyond."
In session two, Northern Development Initiative Trust CEO Joel McKay will look at what the core objectives of northern business look like, compared to the Lower Mainland, and how that can shape on-the-ground business choices here. A panel of local business leaders will join him on stage for that conversation.
The luncheon keynote address will be delivered by Susannah Pierce, the external affairs director for LNG Canada, the province's leading proponent in the field of liquified natural gas.
The afternoon session will be hosted by FortisBC. It's title is Energizing the North: What Does Clean BC Mean In the North.
TrueNorth also includes three break-out sessions and this year they are:
Accessing Grants to Grow Your Business with NDIT
Clean Tech and Innovation in a Natural Resource Based Economy
Leadership - It's About Presence, Not Position
The master of ceremonies for the day is Skeena MLA and veteran Aboriginal leader Ellis Ross of the Haisla Nation on the northern coast. Corrigall said it was important as an organizer to utilize every minute of the forum for economic knowledge, so even the choice of emcee hinged on getting someone who could impart empirical information, not just move the conversation along.
"The content we deliver year over year has to be tailored for our region," Corrigall said. "Being the largest city and the largest Chamber outside the southern part of the province, we have the amenities to host something like this and there's a responsibility that comes with that to provide maximum value. The content is not about growth for growth's sake, it is how do you viably build your business over a long term, looking at the likely happenings coming for our economy and looking at the realities of our region. We also want to use the forum as a way to send a strong signal that our local businesses are ready and 100 per cent capable to handle what's coming, and in many cases have already gotten experience at handling large-scale projects of this sort."
The chamber has the ability, through its membership communications, to survey local entrepreneurs and business managers about what topics they would like to see addressed in a forum such as this. Corrigall said the agenda was set by that year-round feedback.
There were still, as of Tuesday, a few seats left for TrueNorth. They can be booked online via the Prince George Chamber of Commerce website or at the door while supplies last.
The sequence of events takes place at the Marriott Hotel starting at 8 a.m. (doors at 7) on Monday and continues to 4 p.m. with informal free-range meetings expected to carry on into the night and carry over into the BC Natural Resources Forum that commences on Tuesday.