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Newmarket chamber aims to empower businesses to 'shift'

Chamber of commerce starting new annual event that will 'bring together bold thinkers, bold ideas and give businesses a tool to grow and develop'
Famed chocolatier Tareq Hadhad will be the keynote speaker for a new Newmarket Chamber of Commerce conference in May.

The Newmarket Chamber of Commerce is launching a new summit to empower and inspire business leaders in York Region.

SHIFT 23 will feature a variety of interactive talks on market trends, talent retention, strategy and best practices for local businesses. The May 25 event is aimed at creating a "shift" in the industry idea of a conference, according to the chamber. 

Chamber president and CEO Chris Emanuel said it became apparent during the pandemic that businesses need to be able to change.

“No matter the time, all businesses need to be looking at how to pivot and shift to ensure relevance,” Emanuel said. “We want to bring together bold thinkers, bold ideas and give businesses a tool to grow and develop.” 

The event at the Paramount Event space in Vaughan will include speakers highlighting “stories of business and human resilience.” 

There was not an event space in Newmarket able to accommodate such an event, Emanuel said, adding that the chamber expects a large turnout for this one.

“We’re pretty optimistic that year one is going to be pretty big,” he said. 

The keynote address will be from Tareq Hadhad, a chocolate maker and founder of Peace by Chocolate, who originally came to Canada as a refugee from Syria in 2016. The Hadhad family's experience has been shared in both a book and film.

“Tareq will share his family’s difficult but remarkable journey that led to a new life and an award-winning business,” the chamber said.

Other speakers will include Abacus Data founder and CEO David Colleto, who will speak on new market trends and growth strategies. 

Other speakers are still being finalized, but there should be approximately 15 in all, Emanuel said.

“It’s literally a jam-packed day full of bold ideas and thinkers,” he said. “We just want to make sure that everyone leaves the day energized and equipped with ideas to take their business to the next level.” 

The plan is for this to become an annual event.

“I see this becoming kind of the cornerstone of a chamber offering and growing each year,” Emanuel said. “I’m optimistic about the potential.” 

Information and tickets are available through