Here’s to new ideas

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The Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce is looking for a way forward.

More power to them.

The venerable business collective has made no qualms about its situation this year. Back in February, former chamber president Patrick McSweeney warned members that 2014 would be a rebuilding year for the organization.

McSweeney had presided over a tough year in 2013. The chamber had a deficit of about $21,000 and its flagship event, the trade show, was seen as a failure despite turning a modest profit.

McSweeney and his successor, Jonathan Greenan, also acknowledged that the organization wasn’t on the ball sometimes when it came to discussing public policy.

They are the leadership of small business in this community, so they needed to start making more noise about what happens here.

And to their credit it appears that they’ve largely taken their own advice to heart.

In terms of making the chamber’s voice heard, Greenan is personable and almost always willing to comment on whatever subject of note comes up in the community – in a timely manner even.

The organization hired a capable new executive director, Jane Sharpe.

They even rebooted or reinvigorated some of their member benefits and programs.

But probably the most important move the chamber has made has been to scrap the trade show for this year and replace it with an event they’re aptly calling “The Way Forward.”

Set for Sept. 17, and being held at the Slemon Park Hotel & Conference Centre, this forum of business leaders already has several promising speakers lined up.

They include: Don Mills, Paul McNeill, Alan Duncan and Jennifer Gillivan, Jeff Poirier, Andrew Daggett and Darrin Mitchell.

These are all leaders in media, business and governance – to list their accomplishments would take more space than this column allows.

Hopefully, these people will help light a spark in this city. The potential for greatness is there, but some kind of catalyst is needed.

Other communities have dug themselves out of deeper holes than the one Summerside finds itself in these days.

Replicating and refining the work that helped those cities and towns will help Summerside as well. But it takes someone to be the messenger of those new-to-us ideas to get them to take root here.

Here’s hoping that the business community of Summerside will be receptive.

Geographic location: Summerside, Don Mills

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