Our Chamber, represents over 700 members from all industry sectors such as Retail, Utilities, Construction, Financial Services, Technology, Insurance & Reinsurance, Hotels, Restaurants, Real Estate and Automotive to name a few.  It is 102 years old, and this milestone is a testament to the important role that it has played and continues to in ensuring that the needs and expectations of our members are provided for

However, now we must seriously look at the role of our Chamber in the future, and why documents such as a Strategic Plan are so very important to each and every one of us.          It is no secret that our island and the world at large is facing one of the most significant challenges in recent history, a global recession, and one of a magnitude that I dare say few if any of us have seen or experienced. The gravity of this situation has been felt in all sectors of our community, examples of which are, fewer visitors and reduced stays in our hotels, retail sales are falling in terms of local and visitor spending, restaurants are not as busy as they have been in past, and service providers who rely on these sectors and others not mentioned to generate income for them, are in some cases feeling hard pressed to adjust to this down turn in their core business.

            In the commercial / business sector we have also seen a general belt tightening with greater emphasis being placed on reducing operating costs, which in turn has led to some degree of staffing redundancies, and where jobs have been lost, additional workloads having to be taken on by those employees who remain. You may be asking yourself, why I have chosen to place emphasis on this, simply put, it has a material and real effect on the manner in which our Chamber has operated in the past, and the real need for us to reinvent ourselves in order to maintain the degree of support, guidance and beneficial services which our members and industry sector divisions rely upon us to provide as we look to the future.

            We will as part of my role as Chamber President be focusing our attention on several current and long standing issues and concerns, the most significant of which are as follows:  The downturn in the economy and the exodus of businesses leaving Bermuda.  Do we have a plan to revive our Tourism product, and is it achievable, and can we revive it again? Theses are questions which our members are asking and the community at large would like to have answers on.  Crime & Safety, this is a major concern with the escalation of serious crime. We have been working with the Government and the ministries responsible for several years, and it is our view that we are still not seeing a consistent and heightened police presence that deters this negative behaviour. It begs the question, what is the solution?  The position of our Chamber is that we would like to see a sustained Police presence on an ongoing basis that is proactive and not reactive to situations, We also believe that the Police cannot do their jobs effectively without the assistance of the community at large, we must all be responsible citizens and not turn a blind eye when something happens and simply say, "I don't want to get involved". This is not the solution as to continue in this vein is to be an enabler, which only adds fuel to the fire.

            We are passionate about our country and the direction that we must move in, and this positive change will only come about if we are all committed to achieving the results we wish to see. Inclusion and positive support must be our focus.

            The thanks to our speakers was given by PP Owen who presented them with our customary certificate of thanks and as usual he in could not resist presenting them with an autographed (worth $100.according to PP Owen) copy of his book on Sir George Somers