Cornwall Chamber of Commerce Shutters Fall Show as Crumbling Continues Under Lezlie Strasser – July 25, 2013

Lezlie Strasser - Director Cornwall & Area Chamber of Commerce
Lezlie Strasser – Director Cornwall & Area Chamber of Commerce


CFN–  Karma is a bitch they say.   They really do.   But what is Karma really?  Surely if you do the right things enough times mathematically things work out?

Of course the opposite would be true to.   If you don’t perform best practices.  If you are not good at your job.  If you consistently make poor choices or consistently get plastered at lunch you just don’t get the best results?

And in business if you spend more than you make you generally don’t move forward.

A good Chamber of Commerce is a huge opportunity for local businesses to work together to help a community grow.   However when any group goes sour, gets corrupted, or falls into the control of a few that practice exclusivity you get to be at the bottom of the Communities in Boom report by the CFIB.

Is the Chamber’s repeated failures all Ms Strasser’s fault?   Not really.  It’s more about the Business Culture or lack therof in Cornwall where most businesses really don’t  make business first decisions in many cases.  Cronyism, bullying, cliques are not the making of a vibrant business community.

Even the Chamber itself doesn’t use best practices.  A former Chair gets a cut rate lease in the Chamber building while getting contracts to provide services.    Is that best for the Chamber and its membership?

The thing about business though is that over the long term the client always at the end of the day decides where they will spend their dollars.

The Spring show which has been in steady decline with little to no innovation led the Chamber to go hat in hand and ask the city for a 20% discount on the rental fee of the Civic Complex; an odd move when you want the City to cut taxes?       Instead of facing the challenges of how to make the show better the Chamber decided to beg for a fee reduction which sadly they were given; most likely the Fall show being a factor.

The Chamber just pulled the plug on the Fall show.

Bizfest brain Joey Gault seated right of Mayor Bob Kilger

Bizfest has been their largest disaster this decade.  Originally a five day  event that was well supported by sponsors but not by the public the disaster lost money including the gaffe of their budget being passed without the largest line item being accounted for.

That led to a 3 day event last year and this year’s planned event will be a single event, but now sponsorship has dried up.

Now it’s easy to point fingers.   Some would say what could the Chamber do to be better?

Well here’s a partial list.

Be truly more inclusive.   The culture at Chamber events seems to be the same cliquesters or their younger generation.   IE you lose one Corus radio rep and replace that person with another.   The damage caused to the Chamber during the years that Scott Armstrong from Corus Radio and Rick Shaver from the Seaway News may not actually be able to be repaired.

When I first ran for the Chamber board I was thanked after and told that I had not won.  When I asked for a vote count they said they didn’t provide that information.

Thanks to yours truly that process has changed, but personally; in my opinion; I doubt the accuracy or integrity of the process.

Actually provide service to small business.   Why not support an incubator?  There’s a big Remax for lease sign on the Chamber.  WHy not take some of that space to help launch businesses in Cornwall?  Why not set up a micro finance program?  Why not at least have the debate?  Small business is the backbone of any Chamber of Commerce.  Where are the initiatives?  Even Bizfest was scheduled during weekday business hours.  How addled was that?

If something doesn’t work change how it’s being done.  If that doesn’t work change who’s doing it.

While a member of the board another director shared that it’d be too expensive to replace Ms Strasser as horrible as her performance was.   That kind of thinking feeds into the problem in that if Ms Strasser’s management was costing the Chamber money they’d never have the funds to replace her.

Have services contracted by the Chamber open to all members.  How would you feel if you were a real estate member or computer services firm and always saw Webtech or Remax getting all or most of the biz from the Chamber?

Mobilize in the community.  One of the biggest complaint of Pitt Street retailers is that they don’t benefit from Lift Off or events.

Sadly in this scribblers opinion the Chamber needs new blood.  No more Lezlie Strasser’s and Mike Metcalfe’s.   If the Chamber wants to thrive and grow they need new non-clique blood running things.    It’s why I won’t be a member until they clean house.

This Chamber’s future is bleak right now.   It seems that they can’t run events; don’t currently provide service to its members, are struggling to replace lost revenue from the Service Ontario outlet that the late Joe Gunn started over 25 years ago, and has been the cash cow keeping the Chamber alive all these decades.     The building itself is rumored to be on the market as well, but the current slump in Cornwall Real Estate doesn’t bode well for a large return; especially with all the building issues and flooding.

With a weak board should Cornwall business expect any changes soon?   Not really.

It’s sad.   Really we can do better.    We will need to do better if we want a strong local economy.   Is it time for Cornwall Business to truly start working together and supporting each other?

What do you think CFN viewers?  You can post your comments below.

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  1. If they would have focused on more positive aspects of business development instead of charging around threatening businesses with boycotts they probably would not be in this position. With Mike Metcalf leading the boycott efforts on behalf of his boss Lezlie Strasser, it’s no small wonder that the chamber leaves a sour taste in the mouths of most small business owners.

  2. Karma has come home to roost. It is in part due to the management of the Chamber, but not due to a lack of these good people trying.

    I would agree with management being on a time limit contract bases for renewal, new blood per say. Give them 5 years max….contracts up, get or re-apply. In other words, produce what we need or move over.

    This city has witnessed hard working skills and the best of the current staff abilities continually attempting to make silk purses out of a collection of sows ears.

    Cronyism in all areas as well as nepotism, thwarted by the Downtown Business Association, EVERY city council we’ve ever had as well as our city mayors over a long time, just have not cut it as far as ‘renewing’ themselves with aptitudes and attitudes fitting for progression as befits Cornwall needs.

    Any depth we could have had has got up and left Cornwall because of being tired of all the crap city hall has been producing for decades, particularly of late.

    Yes, Mike and Lesley, it is time to retire, but retire with grace.

    Though troubles have been within and some have felt tarnished or thwarted by your decisions, go with grace knowing that some of those decisions were forced upon you by DBA and limited via council. I at least believe you did do your best.

  3. I wonder if that is the same Mike Metcalf that used to be a teacher at CCVS back in my day in the 60’s era. LOL LOL. ROLF! If that is so then no wonder the chamber is in a rut. With Leslie Stousser and himself reminds me of a man I worked with here in Ottawa with all of his liquid lunches. Cornwall is in a terrible rut with the way it does business and when a mayor and his clique have done things to our Jamie Gilciq and God knows to who else then this is what they get in return. I have always said that what goes around comes around and sometimes it hits much worse than what you dish out to others. This has to do with very bad business practices with very bad business leaders.

  4. I have to say, I like Lezlie Strasser but, I never understood this chamber thing as of late.
    I have been at many breakfast meetings with my former employer where many predominant business people were in the room of all walks of Life, interests and business’s.
    Together they all have a common goal and can gather as what they do, be business people in the best interest of business.
    Why pay to be part and pay for a spot once a year at the complex?
    That seems like a bad business decision.
    In this day and age, what can the chamber possibly do that the internet can’t?
    If I were in business, I wouldn’t spend a dime there as they really don’t do anything and would toss my hat, right here, at CFN where the action is.
    I have seen radio in a demonstration but it’s nothing like getting THOUSANDS of hits like on a site like this!
    Much, much less than what the chamber can offer.
    For the “old school boys”, they can carry on and rub elbows but they are out of touch with the real world and hang their yearly plaque on the wall.
    Note, my Mom is 77 and on the internet now.
    If you want her dollars, get with it!!

  5. Turk businesses are done today on the net and I agree about posting ads on Jamie’s CFN and there is no better place than this paper to do so.

    I am a 62 year old woman and so so with the computer but I do like it. Your mom being 77 and on the net is remarkable. Nowadays it is the electronics where business is done. Newspapers done on hard copy are almost extinct and going there with the time. The computer is the way to go and you can do business all over the world. Jamie’s paper is the way to go and is not part of a clique nor favoritism. Jamie is Jamie – a very fine business man and likes Cornwall and area.

  6. The Chamber of Commerce still has a place in today’s business environment. It just needs to modernize and be more inclusive. Too many mean spirited old school business bullies are running the chambers with their own agendas.

    As far as doing everything in the digital world, there is still no replacement for real face to face conversations. It is a lot harder to be rude and abusive when the person you are talking to is only a couple of feet away from you. You can read sincerity and honesty in a person’s face and body language. You just can’t do that on the anti-social media sites.

  7. Either on extended liquid lunches, or permanent smoke breaks, hardly do you ever see Strasser doing her job and when she is, she hired a relative to replace someone who recently quit. Kind of another Kilger of sort.

    The click in this town is the truth behind why Cornwall always takes 3 steps forward and 4 back. The point being that if they would open their selfish eyes to the truth and take a step out of the picture then, maybe then we would move ahead.

    Take a good hard look at Lift-off, anyone who say’s they did great in attendance is as blind as a bat. Why did lift-off fail, well take a look at who was n the picture, yep the click. I feel bad for all of the people who gave their hearts to see it succeed only to see it fail, AGAIN.

    The Chamber has ran it’s course, the sooner people and business in this town see it then the sooner change can start, until then, failure will always show it’s face.

  8. Funny but I just finished ordering a toy for my granddaughter on-line…I,m 66

  9. Re: jules July 25, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    I wonder if that is the same Mike Metcalf that used to be a teacher at CCVS.

    NO Jules. Your Mike has since passed. He had a small apartment for many years at the corner of Windsor and Martin Streets. I use to live near by him. Smart man with a few personal issues that took him down.

    Take care.

  10. If you had a half a clue Gilcig and Jules you both would be very dangerous. You are not part of the Chamber of Commerce and that was NOT your decision from what I understand. Your membership renewal was declined because you have ZERO journalistic integrity. Your defamation of the Execuitive Director is going to get you shut down. Her leadership has nothing to do with the cancelling of the fall show and being that you are not part of the process I wouldn’t expect you to know. I can’t get over how ignorant you are. This on top of your just for fun “corrupt leader” poll. You disgust me.

  11. I figured this story would pop up today.
    She placed the blame on the citizens of Cornwall. Well I’ll tell you that 15 years ago I was in those shows and they seemed to be worthwhile but the bullying she pulled on the exhibitors was hilarious, to me. She’d be all boozy-breathed and snarly with that face (the horror) holding up entry and exit shaking people down for cash etc. before they could set up keeping the other 90% waiting in a log jam.
    Well some people were treated well by her. The Seaway News was there early. Holy Gilles Latour got in early with his crappy windows (shhhhh. Ti-Tard Gilles doesn’t want people to remember his retail sales days). Tim Ming was in early with his apprentice con-man Gilles a few years later. I moved away but can only imagine that she and that other retard her assistant kept pissing people off, raising prices, and going past the point of marginal return as they ramped up prices and made exorbitant profits and ruined the show.
    That show was a major event for entertainment purposes. No change in the economy affected the shows cause nobody bought anything as a result of them. The only reason to join that cluster{MODERATED} organization is ascension to the nirvanic state of mind that is Team Cornwall. I’ve seen that real estate Frost guy and Tony Luis enough on bus shelters and shit just want to pound them. I better calm down before the stroke sets in cause I don’t want to go to our wonderful new filthy hospital to die of infection.

  12. Author

    JohnQPublic I chose to not renew my membership in the Chamber. I stated clearly that I would not join again until it was cleaned up. Several of the board members I worked with left also. If I defamed the ED in anyway I would certainly hope that she initiated an action. She also can post freely here on CFN or send in a statement which we’d publish. Of course you not signing your name to your post gives you huge credibility Just ignorant slagging. Is that you Rick Shaver? 🙂

  13. @Admin
    You would see his nose through the cyberspace

  14. Reg wrote: If they would have focused on more positive aspects of business development instead of charging around threatening businesses with boycotts they probably would not be in this position.

    Thinking he is blaming the wrong people as far as boycotts are concerned.

  15. I don’t know what you are thinking Stella but I have proof that Mike Metcalf is definitely contacting businesses and threatening them with a boycott. Mike works for the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce. How much plainer does it have to be for you?

  16. Reg, it doesn’t get much plainer than that ! Boycotts could have two edges to them ! In “CFN’s situation, I have gone out of my way, not to deal with businesses associated with this “clique”.
    Just today, my wife & I ordered flowers from a CFN advertiser & we told them so !
    As far as the “Fall Show”, it was boring, repetitive & poorly executed. Same ol, same ol ! No draw power or appeal. It was done like toast.

  17. Wow this is hard pill to swallow. I am thinking of the businesses involved and the economy. Every year when the chamber had their show, the businesses involved and the downtown businesses profited. The thousand visitors that attended the show, purchased and would walk over to the downtown core, the mall and restaurants and spend. The Cornwall Square would get lots of traffic too.
    I have personally attended these shows as much as I could to encourage our local businesses and downtown. Everytime I was there, I saw Mike and Lezlie and the rest of the crew there. They are loyal people. With the lack of businesses signed up, I am sure that letting go of the show, was not an easy decision for them to do.
    If I would have sat on the chamber committee or worked there, I would have faught really really hard to save the show, if I couldn’t of saved it and had no choice to let it go, I would have worked hard on a plan of action quick enough to replace the show with something bigger and better for our community and economy. Cornwall People have confidence, help them, and certainly be positive. Believe that there is a reason for everything and the best is yet to come. Do not trash the CFN, the journalisms, and the staff at the chamber. Focus on getting something rolling, think of an event quite interesting and share your ideas. Use this site for suggestions instead of trashing people, nobody needs to get kicked in the chin when this kind of news get publicised. Common Cornwall people what to you have to suggest…Bring it on!!!!

  18. LOL LOL. John Q. Public I do not have a business so you know what you can do. LOL LOL. As for Jamie he is the best thing that ever went to Cornwall and that is the truth. Without Jamie so much would be still swept under the rug and never heard again and the people would continue to suffer not knowing who was doing it to them. Jamie is the best there is. As for myself I am not even a writer but just a blogger who tells it like it is.

  19. Mike M. is milking it.

    Good for a man of 72 to still be strutting but perhaps his bitter rather than better sides are showing of late.

    Obviously jealous of the success’s of CFN his tirade shows his angst in an unfortunate lack of gratitude for truth of circumstance in this community. Shows he is part of the problem for sure, causing the spin-off of failures of enterprises associating less and less with the Chamber as with the BIA and city council in general.

    Hard to trust when those in places high in their own minds have lost our trust over and over and over again.

    It all started at the top and has continued to roll down hill.

    Perhaps Mayor and council should be dropped in favor of the city being run by our city administrator until the next election.

  20. If John Q. Public is Rick Shaver I can tell you where to shove your Seaway News. My parents did everything to prevent your paper from coming to their door. It is the lowliest piece of toilet paper there is besides SF. It is a shame to have someone so boozed up to the gills to work in the Chamber of Commerce. OMG no wonder Cornwall is at the bottom of the heap. Just looking at that woman alone before I read the column told me that she is a drinker. You cannot run a business and be on the booze or else you will fail big time.

  21. Author

    TATFAM Cornwall will never move forward until we all start working together. It’s being proven again and again locally.

  22. If Cornwall is to go forward then the people have to change. There are many good people in Cornwall and they get hurt because of a certain few who want to rule everything and push everyone else aside. Things do not work out that way. Cornwall could have had many jobs gone their way in past years and even the present time. What many of you do not realize is that you are situated in between a lot of the big cities and very ideal for doing different kinds of businesses but it is the higharchy like the mayor, council as well as the clique and this Strasser woman who keeps things behind and hires family like Bare Ass does. When things like this happens then Cornwall does remain behind and only a good ole boy type of town.

    Jamie’s CFN is not in the clique and doesn’t go for such a system and wants everyone’s business and respects other people without having to take sides. Those of us who live elsewhere or are from elsewhere can see it as plain as day about what goes on. Cornwall is so small that it is like going to a farm and most people know everyone else which is so unlike here in Ottawa, Montreal, etc. Many people would love to leave a big city and settle down in a small place to relax and also raise a family than to live in a rat race but when they see how low people stoop to hire family or do business then that turns them all off of Cornwall or any other town that operates like Cornwall.

    It is all up to the people what they intend to do. You have to change the mentality in Cornwall. There are many good people in Cornwall and the surrounding towns and they get hurt for the bad ones. Things have to change for the better now. You have to be a drawing card for the city and not have Cornwall look like a hillbilly town with teenage pregnancies and low literacy, etc. Every citizen has to help change the system. Bare Ass is sick and you can see it in his face so don’t count much on him – he is on his way out. It requires everyone who live in Cornwall to make those changes for the good.

  23. Journalist or gossip queen? So far I can’t see anything but someone who spits non-sense just to create havoc within the Cornwall community. Why don’t you take your two cents and do something productive with it,Gilsig? Don’t you think it’s about time you own up to your “journalist” reputation and actually write something of fact for once? I’m so sick of hearing about you and your ignorant posse, who by the way, can’t even seem to get the persons name right? Really credible!!!

  24. Author

    K, I’ll bite Anonymous. Can you point to a single story we’ve have not been factual on please?

  25. Anonymous
    July 28, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    It has been 5-6 days now and you have not responded to

    July 28, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Put up or get with the program.

    If you are blind by purpose then you are indeed part of the shit going on in this town.

    Take the time to review and refute or shut the hell up already.

  26. Author

    Say what Diddlyscwatt?

  27. Admin

    My note was directed to ‘Anonymous’ requesting his/her followup to your statement.

    Obviously h/she can NOT find any wrong in all your truth and ‘journalistic’ talents.

  28. Author


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