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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: March 15th, 2021

GNCC announces 2021 Niagara Business Achievement Award finalists

The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce this year’s finalists for the 17th Annual Niagara Business Achievement Awards, presented by Meridian Credit Union.

The finalists in 2021 are:

Young Professional Award

  • Emily Butko Wallis, Signature Sign & Image
  • Meghan Chayka, Stathletes
  • Brandon Currie, C.R. Smith Financial
  • Christopher Paley, Halucha Cost Consulting Inc

Outstanding New Business

  • Accel North
  • Bella Painters
  • Essentials Cremation and Burial Services Inc
  • Frontier Barbers & Company
  • Victory & Co.

Business of the Year

  • Brand BLVD
  • Hatch
  • Verhoef Electric

Excellence in Business Up to 10 Employees

  • Giant Shoe Creative Agency
  • Intuitive Shipping
  • Osborne Law

Excellence in Business 11 Employees or More

  • Kraun Electric
  • odd.bird/odd.bar
  • Rentsync (previously Landlord Web Solutions)

Excellence in Business – Not for Profit

  • Niagara Children’s Centre
  • Niagara SPCA & Humane Society
  • Port Cares
  • St. John Ambulance

Technology and Innovation Award

  • Factory Surplus Direct Inc.
  • Hamill Agricultural Processing Solutions
  • Zoom Innovations Inc.

Excellence in Manufacturing

  • Abatement Technologies
  • Factory Surplus Direct Inc.
  • Lofttan

Excellence in Tourism and Hospitality

  • Chz Plz
  • Queen Bean Cafe
  • Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery

Excellence in Agribusiness, Farming and Rural Achievement

  • Ostrich Land
  • Province Brands
  • Small Scale Farms

Environmental Leadership Award

  • Little Green Shop
  • Twists
  • UpCycle Canada

This year’s Bestowed Award Recipients are businesses that have used creative and original approaches within their organization to improve planning, response and recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 and/or significant contributions to the community to aid in our recovery. They are:

Community Leadership: Niagara Industrial Association

Entrepreneur of the Year: Geoff Dillon, Dillon’s Distillery

Innovative Leader Award: Dr. Yousef Haj-Ahmad, Norgen Biotek

The 2021 NBAAs will be virtual, and are free to attend. Registration is available here.


Competition Bureau warns businesses of four pervasive scams

In the last year alone, scam artists have taken advantage of Canadian businesses to the tune of $24.5 million. However, it is estimated that only 5% of fraud is reported so the impact is likely much greater.

As Canadian business-owners face unprecedented challenges, fraudsters see the current global health crisis as an opportunity to line their own pockets. And, true to form, scams targeted at businesses are just as creative and convincing as frauds aimed at consumers.

And, with so many employees working remotely right now, it’s easier than ever for unsavoury characters to bilk your business.

Some common scams to watch out for:

Phishing: Watch out for emails with unknown links and attachments or asking you to give up sensitive business information like your credit card number, bank account number or passwords. Phishing emails can infect your company’s computers with malware, give fraudsters access to your information, or lock your computer system until you pay a ransom fee.

Intellectual Property renewal scam: Beware of emails and letters demanding payment to protect your business’ intellectual property rights. They may appear to come from a federal agency, but remember, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office is the official governmental agency responsible for the administration of IP rights and their renewal.

Tech Support Scam: If your business receives a phone call about viruses on your computer from someone pretending to be from a software company, it’s a scam.  Likewise, your staff could receive a fake pop-up warning on their screen claiming that their computer has a virus to trick them into giving the fraudster money, passwords or access to your system.

Fake CEO scam: In this scam, the fraudster will impersonate a company executive using a spoofed email to send an email to one of your employees of the accounting or finance departments. The email will instruct the employee to urgently wire a large sum of money to a bank account – to close a major business deal, for example.

To help prevent your business from falling victim to fraud:

  • Be skeptical of urgent requests.
  • Verify the legitimacy of a request by contacting the supplier, agency, or executive directly.
  • Be wary of phone calls, mail, emails, or texts from persons posing as government officials requesting bank account information or other information in order to issue you cheques.
  • Don’t open, or reply to, any suspicious emails and don’t click on any links or attachments within them.
  • Use contact information you have in your contacts list, or go to the website of the legitimate business for the correct contact information.
  • Check all invoices. Make sure all items on the invoice were ordered and delivered.
  • Ensure your computer systems are secure and that your anti-spam, antivirus and anti-spyware software are up to date, whether working from home or at the office.
  • Encourage employees to use strong passwords to protect their email accounts from hackers.
  • Educate your employees about scams targeting businesses..
  • Stay vigilant.

Canada Revenue Agency begins revoking compromised logins

In February, an analysis revealed evidence that some user IDs and passwords used to access CRA accounts may have been obtained by unauthorized third parties. We wish to reiterate that these user IDs and passwords were not compromised as a result of a breach of CRA’s online systems, rather they may have been obtained by unauthorized third parties and through a variety of means by sources external to the CRA, such as email phishing schemes or third party data breaches.

Out of an abundance of caution, and to prevent unauthorized access to these accounts, the CRA took swift action to lock these accounts. Impacted individuals, with email addresses on file, were notified that their email was removed from their account on February 16.

As a preventative measure, these additional CRA user IDs and passwords, along with those associated with locked accounts in February, will be revoked and instructions will be made available to impacted individuals on how to re-gain access to their CRA account. We will begin revoking these CRA user IDs and passwords starting March 13, 2021. We will be notifying impacted individuals with instructions on how to re-gain access to their CRA account as of this time.

For more information on revoked user IDs and passwords, please visit the CRA webpage at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/corporate/security/revoked-userid.html.


Niagara transit operators providing free transit to residents travelling to get COVID-19 vaccination

To receive the free fare, riders are required to show the driver a vaccination appointment confirmation (e-mail or other format) to board and proof of vaccination for the return trip. This process applies for appointments for both the first and second dose. Rides can be to/from one of the 11 vaccination sites operated by Niagara Region.

Should vaccinations become available at some doctors, pharmacies or other locations, those trips also qualify under this program. Information on Niagara Region’s vaccination program.

The free rides to and from vaccination appointments are available on all transit systems in Niagara, effective March 15, 2021 until further notice. This includes:

Riders with service specific transit questions should check with their local transit operator.

All riders are to observe COVID-19 protocols. Masks are mandatory on all forms of transit and physical distancing of two metres (six feet) should be maintained wherever possible.


City of St. Catharines offers flower pots to businesses

Businesses can sponsor professionally designed and planted 24-inch pots filled with colourful flowers and plants for out front of their stores, offices and other businesses.

Sponsorship fees for flower pots are as follow: $86.50 for one flower pot, $162.15 for two, $226.35 for three and $280.05 for four. Fees cover the cost of the planter, soil, the plants and fertilizer. Businesses are responsible for watering and maintaining the pots throughout the season.

Business owners can order flower pots to be delivered to their storefront at www.engageSTC.ca/FlowerPots. Orders must be submitted by Friday, May 14 at 4:30 p.m. Flower pots will be delivered in late spring and picked up in early fall.


Canadian manufacturing sales rise to $56.2 billion in January

Manufacturing sales

Manufacturing sales rose 3.1% to $56.2 billion in January, following a 1.3% gain in December. Sales were up in 16 of 21 industries, driven mainly by the wood product, computer and electronic product, and primary metal industries. Motor vehicle manufacturing posted the largest decline. In constant dollars, manufacturing sales were up 1.1%, indicating a higher volume of goods sold in January.

Sales of wood products rose 9.1% to $4.1 billion in January, driven by higher prices and sales volumes. Prices for lumber and other wood products increased for the ninth time in 12 months, rising 10.8% in January. This industry has been one of the main contributors to manufacturing sales increases since the easing of restrictions after the first wave of the pandemic. Exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials were up 10.7% in January. The value of building permits issued in January increased 8.2%.

Following a 3.9% decline in December, computer and electronic product sales rose 22.4% to $1.4 billion in January on higher sales of navigational, measuring, medical and control instruments. Sales volumes of computer and electronic products increased by one-quarter (+25.4%).

Following a 1.2% increase in December, motor vehicle sales fell 8.2% to $3.9 billion in January, the lowest level since May 2020. The worldwide shortage of semiconductor chips affected the motor vehicle industry across North America and halted production in many auto assembly plants in Ontario. The lack of chips is expected to further reduce vehicle production in the first quarter of 2021.


Reading recommendations

Revisiting Tourism: Canada’s Visitor Economy One Year into the Global Pandemic (PDF link)

Destination Canada

Canadians want to travel: while safety is a key consideration in planning travel, data shows high interest in future international travel. If Canadians shift two thirds of their planned spend on international leisure travel towards domestic tourism, it will make up for the estimated $19 billion shortfall currently facing our visitor economy and help sustain 150,000 jobs.

Recovery is forecasted to take years, but a significant increase in domestic travel can accelerate recovery by one year. The visitor economy saw unprecedented losses in 2020 alongside business closures and rising unemployment. The impact on tourism is greater than that experienced after 9/11, SARS and the 2008 economic crisis combined.

Because of its service nature, tourism is the most impacted sector in the Canadian economy. Canada’s major cities have been hit the hardest by the loss of tourism revenue. While still significant, job loss was minimized through Government of Canada initiatives which include, among others, the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP). Women , immigrants and youth, who make up the engine of the visitor economy, have been hardest hit by the impact of COVID 19 due to reduced operations, business closures and job loss.


From Crypto Art to Trading Cards, Investment Manias Abound

Erin Griffith, The New York Times

This past week, a trading card featuring the quarterback Tom Brady sold for a record $1.3 million. The total value of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin hit $1 trillion. And Christie’s sold a digital artwork by an artist known as Beeple for $69.3 million after bids started at just $100.

These seemingly singular events were all connected, part of a series of manias that have gripped the financial world. For months, professional and everyday investors have pushed up the prices of stocks and real estate. Now the frenzy has spilled over into the riskiest — and in some cases, wackiest — assets, including digital ephemera and media, cryptocurrencies, collectibles like trading cards and even sneakers.

The surges have been driven by a unique set of conditions. Even as millions were laid off in the pandemic, many people’s bank accounts flourished, flush from stimulus checks and government cash infusions into the economy. But while people accumulated more money, traditional investments like stocks and bonds became less attractive.

So many got creative and, bored in the pandemic, took on more risk. Often, they were egged on by online communities on Reddit and Discord, where the next big investments were hotly debated. They also turned to tech tools like the trading app Robinhood and the cryptocurrency platform Coinbase, which allowed them to buy and trade different items with the click of a button.


Niagara COVID status tracker

Niagara’s most up-to-date COVID statistics, measured against the targets for the various stages of the Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework, are presented below. This does not predict government policy, but is offered to give you an idea of where Niagara is situated and how likely a relaxation (or further restrictions) may be. These data are drawn daily from Niagara Region. The Grey-Lockdown level does not have its own metrics, but is triggered when the COVID-specific measurements in a Red-Control region have continued to deteriorate.

 December 18December 25January 1January 8January 15January 22January 29
Reproductive number1.41.81.41.11.00.70.9
New cases per 100,000101.2267.3469.8575.8507.1295.5250.6
New cases per day (not including outbreaks)60.7178.7311.7376.9325.4182.7145.7
Percent of hospital beds occupied97%95.2%98.2%103.2%104.5%103.6%106%
Percent of intensive care beds occupied78.8%77.3%87.9%87.9%90.9%89.4%93.9%
Percentage of positive tests6.1%15.6%28.1%28.6%26.6%21.2%16.2%

Definitions:

  • Weekly Incidence Rate: the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people per week
  • Percent Positivity: the number of positive COVID-19 tests as a percentage of all COVID-19 tests performed
  • Rt: the reproductive rate, or the number of people infected by each case of the virus

Information on government grants, resources, and programs, policies, forms, and posters for download and use, are available here.The GNCC is here to support you. Contact us with any questions you have.
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