Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan
Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan
Due to a trip planned last October I was unable to attend the Chamber of Commerce awards last month. These events are important in the life of our Pontiac community – because they highlight our positives and recognize, every time, some of the individuals who play a pivotal role in our development. This year’s was no different.
If anything, this year’s was one which shouldn’t have been missed – because of the personalities involved and their accomplishments.
First was the lifetime award to Art Fleming of Chichester, an old friend to many of us. Indeed, Art probably knows more of us than anyone. His experience and his accomplishments span not only eight-plus decades, but his work and his business ventures have been so varied and successful that he has touched the lives of virtually all of us, in one way or another.
Likewise, Ken Pack deserves every accolade he’s won, including this, Businessperson of the Year, from the Pontiac Chamber. Ken is one of those rare souls who came back to the Pontiac after a successful career with a national
corporation, Giant Tiger, not to retire but to bring in investment, create jobs, and provide a huge service to all the residents here. Ken, I count as a friend and
certainly as a model. He has inspired our entrepreneurs, from his original stomping grounds in Quyon to every corner of the Pontiac. Ken, his wife and the team he’s put together have demonstrated that locally run businesses can compete and can provide the services and savings most expect to find only in the traffic-chocked city environments.
And of all the people honoured at this year’s awards – too many for this column – Joanne Romain, the founder and heart of The Lotus Centre in Shawville, deserves special note. Joanne is another example of what can be done here – we hear too much of what we can’t do! It’s important that the Chamber is focussing on those who are showing us the positives in our big/little Pontiac.
Who would have thought that a medical centre could be created and operated, serving our small and dispersed population? The Lotus Centre puts to shame similar medical services in the cities around us – finally what the Pontiac deserves, and which the Pontiac has repaid with its patronage.
These people and all the nominees, plus the Chamber’s own well-honoured members, are proven leaders and entrepreneurs. Most have also won
recognition at the Journal’s annual Readers’ Choice awards, demonstrating the support they hold across the Pontiac which has voted them these honours.
More important than even these individuals — and this is my point here — is to signal how important all our entrepreneurs continue to be within the Pontiac.
We have good political leadership, particularly on municipal and MRC levels; we have sports and cultural notables, teachers, doctors and others who have inspired us. But it is our business community, represented by the Chamber’s award winners, who are the day-by-day heroes of Pontiac’s history and of our continued survival. It’s easy to overlook businesspeople, since their motivation includes self-benefit, but when we look at the struggles they’ve waged (and continue to wage)
to round-up substantial investment capital, to gain the training and expertise their ambitions require, and then to put in the hours and effort to make their efforts succeed, their risk-taking, gambling all this, and their ability to remain flexible and roll with the challenges economic conditions continually throw their way –
considering all this, we have to acknowledge that our Pontiac business community is our local society’s backbone. We would not exist without them: the jobs and salaries they provide, the services they offer, the friendship, advice and assistance they provide day after day. From figure skaters to sports teams, cultural events, school and church programs — all of Pontiac’s various and rich community life gains its oxygen from our business people.
It’s important we salute them, and it’s great that we have such representatives as Art Fleming, Ken Pack, and Joanne Romain to symbolize all of our
business community. Well done, Pontiac Chamber of Commerce!