By Darren Lum
The new Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce’s executive director Robert Gaudette is excited at the opportunity to help local businesses move forward.
“I think it’s an interesting time to come in because I think everybody’s ready to kind of build some momentum and try and find [answers to] what does the world return to? What does business as usual become? I’m excited to be part of that,” he said.
The long-time resident of Haliburton County offers the chamber a broad range of skills, with his most recent being in the labour force training and workforce development sectors.
Gaudette said he has a creative professional background, which includes being an entrepreneur in the technology industry and experience with a non-profit. The chamber position enables him to blend the skills he learned from these industries.
“Where are the areas for innovation that the membership wants, or that we can educate the membership about that maybe hasn’t been brought to this community before? [I] want to connect people. There’s a lot of funding and modernization programming coming from the government in terms of digital main street, upscale local labour, things like that,” he said. “I’m really plugged into that from my previous role working in skills development for the John Howard Society and then prior to that Dixon Hall [Neighbourhood Services] … I think I want to be able to provide those resources and be able to break it down. Save business owners a lot of time and get past the jargon. You know, if you want to access things like that, you don’t want to read through a 20-page document on a proposal breakdown, and I think I can bring that and fill that gap,” he said. “That’s what excites me.”
Among the questions he wants to answer is how has COVID changed what businesses need, which can be from either a regional or local context, specific to Haliburton County.
From the chamber press release, he said, “Local business success is key to a healthy community. Business owners create opportunity, not only for themselves but also for others.”