Executive Director of the South Niagara Chambers of Commerce Dolores Fabiano pointed to widespread labour shortages as the most significant challenge facing local employers at the moment, but said Niagara is especially good at attracting talent and uniquely positioned to succeed moving forward. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent
The pandemic, inflation, labour shortages and geopolitical changes have hit local businesses hard. However, Dolores Fabiano, Executive Director of the South Niagara Chambers of Commerce – which jointly represents Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Pelham, Port Colborne, Wainfleet, and Welland – remains optimistic.
“There truly are some significant issues that will need to be addressed”, said Fabiano. “But we can’t forget everything we have going for us.”
Fabiano believes that Niagara is uniquely positioned with various advantages that will allow it to persevere in the years ahead. “We have a wonderful quality of life… we have access to the major markets, and there are tremendous opportunities for even more growth.”
Perhaps the most significant challenge facing the Niagara economy is widespread labour shortages. “Niagara is no less impacted by this than most regions nationally and globally”, she shared. Healthcare, hospitality, and manufacturing are among the most severely understaffed. “The good news is that we believe we can attract and maintain great talent.”
The upcoming Christmas season will be a pivotal moment for the local business community.
“There are so many industries, in addition to retail, that count on the weeks surrounding Christmas for a huge portion of their annual revenue”, Fabiano said. “Christmas parties, visits to favourite restaurants, local tourism, all of it.”
The lead-up to Christmas unofficially kicks into high-gear this weekend as the United States celebrates Thanksgiving. American Thanksgiving, of course, precedes Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales worldwide.
“There is definitely the potential for our local businesses to enjoy a notable boost in business over the next number of days,” said Fabiano. “As people start to get back into the habit of crossing the Canada/US border, visiting family and friends, celebrating holidays, we should see a tangible increase in commerce.”
While upper-level governments have historically received a lot of credit for creating the conditions for Canadian business to thrive, Fabiano says that local representatives and organizations provide a tremendous amount of support.
“This is where they (business leaders) come to get things done the most quickly and efficiently,” she shared. “We are closest to the ground and are, therefore, especially able to deliver on big practical issues that impact our businesses and communities.”
When asked how businesses can prepare for the future, Fabiano said it is imperative for businesses to fully tap into the potential of technology. “Information systems, social-media outreach, apps… they’re all extremely important – businesses that are able to take advantage will set themselves up for success.”
To learn more about or join the South Niagara Chambers of Commerce, go to their website here.
Nick completed his Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Labour Studies at Brock University. He has previously served in municipal and federal politics. In his free time, Nick enjoys following sports, taking part in outdoor activities and reading biographies. Nick resides in Niagara Falls.