A Regional Chamber of Commerce is one step closer following a meeting on March 18 which saw representatives from Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, Spences Bridge, and Hat Creek get together to discuss the proposed Chamber’s purpose and mandate, look at ways to create a sustainable Chamber, talk about possible events, and start to identify sources of revenue.
“Everyone is still excited to be moving forward,” says Community Futures Sun Country general manager Deb Arnott, who is spearheading the drive to create a regional Chamber serving area communities. “This first meeting was to invite those who want to participate in and help set up a regional Chamber.”
A survey carried out earlier this year among area businesses and not-for-profits indicated that 82 per cent of the respondents would be interested in joining a Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Arnott explains that the next step—“It’s a big one”—is to start seeking possible board members. A nominating committee will be formed, and once that has happened they will be given templates to be used when reviewing and interviewing potential board members.
“We need at least 11 active board members,” explains Arnott. “We hope to get people who are spread out throughout the region.” Among the skill sets or background those at the meeting identified as ones they would like to see in potential board members were experience in marketing, finance, public relations, sales, or governance; someone with a legal background; someone able to advocate or lobby for the Chamber; strategic and critical thinkers; planners/organizers; and people who are currently business owners/operators.
“The committee will be doing a lot of work behind the scenes,” says Arnott, who notes that they are looking for at least three volunteers—ideally from different communities in the area—to sit on the nominating committee. It will report out at a general meeting in November 2019, at which time the nominations for the board will be announced and an election held.
At least three volunteers are also needed to sit on a bylaw task force. Arnott says that the plan is to have bylaws in place for the new regional Chamber—which has not yet been named—at the November meeting.
One of the board’s first tasks will be deciding on fees. “That’s a big job,” says Arnott. There is the possibility of seed money from the now-defunct Chambers in Ashcroft and Cache Creek, and members will pay dues, but attendees at the March 18 meeting noted the need for non-dues revenue, such as sponsorship. The Ashcroft HUB has advised that they will be able to provide office space for the Regional Chamber at no cost.
It was also noted that a model needed to be created that would work for the region. This could involve three or four different levels of membership, rather than a one-size-fits-all membership.
Possible events—and who they were meant for—were also discussed. It was clarified that events sponsored by the Chamber, such as seminars and workshops, would be for businesses, not for the community at large.
The ABC of a Chamber of Commerce is Advocacy, Benefits, and Connections. Attendees at the recent meeting said that they wanted to work together to promote the region and have a regional identity, while recognizing that rural businesses face unique challenges and opportunities. While economic development is not part of the ABC of a Chamber. the regional Chamber could decide to focus on that.
Arnott says that anyone interested in volunteering to sit on either the nominating committee or the bylaw task force should contact her at (250) 453-9165 or email@example.com by Friday, April 5.
“We want to have everything ready to go for the general meeting in November,” she says. “Let’s move forward.”