By Ray Hudson
It was a full house at Eaglequest, Coyote Creek, in Surrey on Wednesday evening, as 175 members turned out for the 53rd Annual General Meeting of the Surrey Board of Trade, where Dr. Greg Thomas received the gavel from out-going Chair, Shelley Besse.
After welcoming remarks, Mayor Linda Hepner presided over the induction of the new directors for the coming year. They are New Chair, Dr. Greg Thomas G3 Consulting, First Vice-Chair, Richard Dendy, A&A Contract Customs Brokers and Shelley Besse First West Credit Union, Immediate Past Chair. Other directors inducted are Tammy Rae TD Bank, Jay Rao WSP Canada Inc, John Folka KPMG, Marlyn Graziano KPU, and Chuck Keeling Elements Casino
Dr. Thomas expressed his enthusiasm to meet the change, growth and opportunities that lie ahead for the Surrey Board of Trade in the coming year in the rapidly growing city. Following are a few of the points he addressed in his speech:
“Within a few decades Surrey will become the largest city in BC, and now more than ever I recognize the need for the Board of Trade to show leadership and to continue to provide strong advocacy and a strong voice for those that have none. We’ll continue to fight for improved infrastructure, especially for Light Rapid Transit, and fair tolling policies to move our people.”
He committed to continue to advocate for creative culture, advocate for the education of youth, which he said is the foundation for our future success, in partnership with the schools, and institutes of higher education. He said they will engage business to find ways to support the newcomers to Surrey “based on their assets capabilities.” He also said he will “appoint representatives to the board of directors from both the aboriginal and immigrant and refugee communities to help the Board understand the challenges of those individuals in our communities and help them become successful in business.”
“Under my watch,” said Thomas, “the board will remain active on Social Outreach, Crime Prevention and Chronic issues affecting business.” He added that he will also address the gender balance on the Board as well.
Other landmarks for the evening included:
The recognition of Anita Huberman’s 10th year as CEO of the organization, which as been growing rapidly under her direction, including the addition of more staff to deal with the growth in Advocacy and the number of committees to manage it as well as International Trade.
The recognition of Pacific Community Resources Society with the Child and Family Friendly Workplace Award. Deb Knopp, the HR Coordinator for PCRS accepted the award which celebrates the organization for having created a workplace that supports their employees in both their work and child/family responsibilities.
The Youth Leader Mentorship program presentation and report by the ninth group of young entrepreneurs on this year’s activities. The program, operated by the Surrey Board of Trade and Junior Achievement provides organization and mentorship for a group of twenty-five high school students. The participants from grades 10 through 12, form a company, prepare a business plan, identify a product, produce it and market it, then dissolve the company. This year’s project: the “4 Corners” company sold 80 themed gift boxes, generating a profit of several hundred dollars which was donated to SOAR Philanthropic Society.
The Keynote Speaker was Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, Chair of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors, who spoke about the role of the Metro Vancouver Regional District and the services provided to Surrey and the South Fraser region of the Lower Mainland.