Business Unusual: Chamber announces new approach to gala event

Community COVID-19 Featured

The Pictou County Chamber of Commerce is pivoting in the face of the worldwide health pandemic.

With the support of several community-based organizations, the Chamber will present a special celebration called “Business Unusual” on January 28 at the deCoste Performing Arts Centre in Pictou.

“Our purpose is to celebrate and showcase the amazing things businesses, organizations and individuals have done to help our community during the darkest days of the pandemic,” says Jack Kyte, Chamber executive director. “Our Board of Directors set aside our traditional business achievement awards program to enable us to tell these stories of resilience and adaptation that have happened since March. It has been inspiring.”

With COVID-19 health and wellness restrictions now in place, the project committee has had to be innovative as well. The result is a hybrid event with a safely distanced in-person audience at the deCoste and an unlimited at-home audience via a live stream. The planning committee is also hoping to work with business partners and organizations to arrange multiple watch parties.

“We love hosting the Chamber Awards each year and were anxious to help the Chamber pivot and deliver a new type of event, says Troy Greencorn, executive director at the deCoste. “This is also a great opportunity to showcase the capabilities of the deCoste and create work for local video and streaming talent. These hybrid events, with part of the audience onsite, and part experiencing the event remotely, are going to be part of our operations for the foreseeable future.”

The planning committee for the event includes leaders from both the corporate and not-for-profit sector, reflecting how closely both are linked in the community, particularly in times of crisis. Committee members represent the Aberdeen Health Foundation, Healthy Pictou County, IGNITE Atlantic, The Pictou County Regional Enterprise Network, Advocate Creative Group, St. F.X Centre for Employment Innovation and The Advocate newspaper. ACOA has stepped up to assist with technical support for the event.

“I had been feeling for some time that our community needed a pep rally,” says Michelle Ferris, Aberdeen Health Foundation executive director. “The chance to talk about the ways health, business and community work together and to celebrate the ways we have pulled together is important. From my perspective, we have to draw every ounce of positivity out of these past months as we can.”

Through live presenters and locally produced videos, the Chamber will share a dozen inspiring stories and recognize the individuals and groups behind them. The idea for this format came from reading The Pictou Advocate’s “Shine On” articles, featuring amazing COVID stories during the worst days of the pandemic.

Acclaimed futurist Nik Badminton will be the keynote speaker for the event. He will share his views on the lessons that can be taken from the pandemic and what comes next, helping to imagine the regional and national economy after COVID-19. Badminton is based in Toronto and has worked with an incredible list of clients, including the United Nations, Microsoft, Bank of Canada, Price Waterhouse Cooper, Virgin, Bayer and more.

A limited number of in-person tickets will be available for purchase through the Chamber of Commerce. Through a sponsorship from The Advocate, complimentary tickets for the streamed broadcast will be provided.

“We want to maximize access to this event. These are stories that all in our community should know,” says Kyte.