Cornwall Ontario — Paul Desnoyers is a Chartered Professional Accountant, Certified General Accountant and Partner at CKDM Chartered Accountants. He is the Treasurer of the Cornwall & Area Chamber of Commerce, Treasurer of Team Cornwall, and a Director at St. Joseph’s Continuing Care Centre.
Paul Desnoyers answers five questions for the Seeker. This interview was conducted by Jason Setnyk.
1. Members of the accounting firm you belong to take an active role in the community through memberships in various clubs and participation in many not-for-profit organizations. What have you learned about your community by actively participating?
At CKDM, we encourage our staff to take an active role in our community by joining local clubs or volunteering some time with not-for-profit or charitable organizations. It’s a great way to meet new people and make a positive difference in our community. As a Treasurer and director with various organizations in Cornwall, I’ve had the chance to meet and interact with a wide cross-section of Cornwall’s business community. It’s shown me that Cornwall’s business community is active and healthy. As an accountant, volunteering my time with these organizations has also given me the opportunity to give back by offering some of my financial
and accounting expertise. Organizations like Team Cornwall wouldn’t be able to operate without volunteers, so being able to donate a small amount of my time gives me a great sense of pride and accomplishment.
2. You were a guest speaker at BizFest, and you did a work shop entitled “Getting Comfortable with Online Transactions”. Tell us about your experience at BizFest, and the value of an event like that in our community.
Having been a speaker at BizFest the last two years has given me a first-hand view of the power of an event like this. The goal behind BizFest has always been to allow entrepreneurs, small business owners and motivated employees to gather together in one place to share, learn and experience something new. Joey Gault, Chair of BizFest, and driving force behind the idea, saw a need to motivate and energize people in the small business community. The Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce seized this opportunity and created the multi-day event in order to provide those people with an event that would both energize and motivate the entrepreneurial spirit and allow people in Cornwall’s business community to share ideas, learn new skills and renew their drive to grow and succeed. The response from attendees has been outstanding. Any entrepreneur can attest to the fact that the time and effort required to operate a small business can sometimes be exhausting. It’s also easy to fall in a rut and feel like you just aren’t moving forward. BizFest was created to re-energize our community’s entrepreneurs and small business owners so that they can walk away from the event feeling renewed and having learned important new skills that can help them reach that next level of success. I’m confident in saying that we’ve achieved that goal and people in our business community have benefited greatly, and will continue to benefit from the event in the future.
3. The Government of Canada announced that effective June 1st 2012, the amount of duty-free exemption on goods purchased in the United States would be increased to $200.00 after 24 hours and $800.00 after 48 hours. The Cornwall Chamber of Commerce was somewhat concerned about this. What are your feelings on this issue? Have there been repercussions for local businesses here in Cornwall so near the border?
The Chamber of Commerce has been very vocal in its opposition of this change. Most people would agree that it is entirely counterproductive to the idea of “Shop Local”. It is an additional challenge that our local businesses must deal with to remain competitive. Do I think that people in Cornwall and other border cities in Canada will start flocking to the US to buy their groceries, clothing and other goods? No, I don’t think so. But nonetheless, it provides additional incentive to shop across the border and not locally. I think the more important factor in this discussion is the large disparity between prices in the US and prices in Canada. We’ve
seen this in the news recently with discussions surrounding the revamping of trade duties and tariffs. Prices in Canada can be as much as 40% higher than prices for the same items in the US. This is the reason people shop in the US. Products cost less, plain and simple. If our local businesses are to remain competitive in this economy, they need to be able to conduct their business on level playing field. It will be very interesting to see what comes of this discussion and how it will impact our local and Canadian businesses.
4. What has been the biggest accomplishments for Team Cornwall in 2012? In 2013 what are the biggest issues that need to be tackled to keep moving our City forward?
Being a part of Team Cornwall has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Working alongside our other Team Captains has allowed me the see how many people in this community truly care about our city. It’s people like the members of Team Cornwall that make me proud to live and work in Cornwall. They work tirelessly to promote and attract new people and businesses to the city. Team Cornwall has had many significant achievements in 2012, but two of the more important achievements have been the hiring of Amanda Asselin, our new Communications and Development Coordinator and the re-launching of Teen Cornwall. Having Amanda on board has vastly improved our ability to communicate with our membership as well as help us find new sources of funding to continue our efforts in promoting Cornwall as a great place to live and work. Secondly, we are very proud to have re-launched and re-branded Teen Cornwall, in partnership with Kawartha Credit Union. Teen Cornwall is an initiative that will provide scholarships to local high school students that demonstrate the attributes of an Ambassador and show a real interest in living and establishing a career in Cornwall. We also hope to host events for students throughout the year that will give them the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the community and at the same time allow them to meet and interact with the leaders of Cornwall’s business community.
The City of Cornwall will face challenges in 2013 just like it has in every other year. Issues such as the location of the Customs facility and the delicate economic climate we live in will provide plenty of challenges for our business community as well as City Council. I believe the most significant challenge will be maintaining the level of growth we have been experiencing in the last few years. We’ve benefited greatly for the influx of distribution centres to our community. As great as this has been for Cornwall, we need to remain focused on welcoming new, diverse investment in Cornwall. We have a strong and willing workforce in Cornwall and we need to ensure that we can provide people will stable, good-paying jobs. I have no doubt in my mind that our community can achieve this goal.
5. Does social development go hand in hand with economic development? Furthermore how do you think Arts and Culture fits into the economic development of the City?
It should be clear to most that social and economic development are very closely related. Where the concept gets cloudy is the question of how to maximize both? In the last decade, Cornwall has experienced some significant job losses with the closures of businesses that employed several hundred people. We’ve managed to rebound quite well, especially with the increase in jobs in the distribution centre industry. In my opinion, the next few years will be the most trying as we deal with deeper and deeper cuts to government funding. The first areas to experience cuts are usually social services, therefore our Council will have to work diligently to ensure that while we continue to focus on economic growth, we also do our best to maintain the level of social services that our community needs and relies on.
I believe that Arts and Culture can have a huge impact on both the social and economic development of a community. Embracing arts and culture allows people to express and entertain themselves and, for some, make a living. Creating an atmosphere where the arts are welcomed and encouraged allows people to develop their creative and Innovative sides. Fostering this type of environment helps to create and motivate the entrepreneurial spirit, which in turn leads to job creation and economic growth. Some consider arts and culture to be a pastime or hobby, but for many it is a calling, a passion. Allowing people to follow their passion can only have a positive impact on both social and economic development.
Thank you for this interview Paul, and we here at the Seeker wish you all the best!