Denis Mahoney officially becomes chairman of the St. John's Board of Trade at the board's annual general meeting Jan. 31 - with a swearing-in in February - but it's something he's been preparing for for a while.
As a partner in a local law firm - he's on the management team for McInnes Cooper - "I know a little bit about what it means to be involved in business in the province," he said.
"My type of work as a labour and employment lawyer gives me the privilege of working with a number of very significant and successful businesses in the province, small-, medium- and large-size employers, in a wide variety of industries from the service sector to the oil and gas and mining."
"So I have a really good insight into the business environment in the province, and to some of the challenges that face business from time to time."
Big on volunteering
From an advocacy point of view, he says, he's been volunteering since he was "knee-high to a grasshopper."
"I've often found that I volunteer with organizations with which I have an interest in the work that they do, and so I've been, as a labour and employer lawyer. I've been the past chair of the Employers' Council. I was chair of the business coalition working with business, labour and government in the strategic partnership initiative, and so I worked with a lot of business organizations talking about business issues."
He's been volunteering with the board of trade for four years.
"I've learned an awful lot through the Board of Trade about the business issues that we're working on on behalf of the business community when we advocate, whether it's with the City of St. John's, whether it's the provincial government, whether it's the Government of Canada."
Chief among those business issues, said Mahoney, ties into the province's population.
"It's labour market challenges. We are a large province with a very small population. It's an aging population, and the demands for our workforce today with the success of our economy is greater than the supply of qualified people," he said.
"We are continually challenged to find ways to source the required workforces for a wide variety of workplaces, whether it's the service sector, if it's the food, restaurant business, if it's the major projects - whatever the sector is, it's not limited to any one particular area, it's a systemic issue in the province, and to me the labour market challenges we face in the province are significant."
The province also needs to "protect our prosperity" in the long term, he said.
"We've come from difficult times. We're now seeing success in the business community that we haven't seen before, and there's an awful lot we've learned, and we're competing on a global scale, but at the end of the day we have to diversify our economy, we need to rebalance the spending inside of government, and we need to take a long-term view to the success of our economy to provide for future generations."
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