Kamloops Chamber of Commerce executive director Deb McClelland (left) and Community Futures Sun Country general manager Debra Arnott at a recent meeting in Ashcroft to discuss the idea of a regional Chamber. Photo: Barbara Roden.

Regional Chamber of Commerce concept getting support

Process starting with communication, group building, and strategic planning

by Ken Alexander

Community Futures Sun Country general manager Debra Arnott says she is really excited about the prospect of having a Regional Chamber of Commerce for Ashcroft, Cache Creek, and the region.

Noting that Community Futures has been providing one-on-one support to small businesses and non-profit groups for the past eight months as part of the transition following the 2017 wildfire, she says they keep hearing people saying they want a Chamber of Commerce to support small businesses. Ashcroft and Cache Creek have had Chambers of Commerce in the past, but they no longer exist.

Community Futures took the lead and organized community meetings in both the villages to discuss options, including a Regional Chamber of Commerce. Arnott invited Deb McClelland, Kamloops Chamber of Commerce executive director, to attend both community meetings to share her expertise and many years of experience.

The Ashcroft meeting was held on October 10 and the Cache Creek meeting on October 16 , and both were smashing successes. There were 25 people at the Ashcroft meeting and 16 at the Cache Creek meeting, and the reaction at both meetings was much the same.

“It was extremely positive,” says Arnott. “Obviously people are ready to move forward with a regional Chamber of Commerce.”

Arnott says the District of Logan Lake has also approached her about getting some information. “I’m going to be meeting with them on Nov. 1.” Community Futures has included Clinton in all of the emails, Arnott notes, adding she is just awaiting an invitation.

“Hopefully, they will give me a call and say they are interested in participating.”

Arnott says that with all of the recent disasters in the region, including flooding and wildfire, businesses and their communities are collaborating in the region. “I think this is perfect timing to start pulling everybody together and start sharing resources.”

It was mentioned at the meetings that there is going to be a fee, and everyone nodded as it was expected, she says, adding it would be up to the membership to decide on a fee structure. However, that will come down the road, as Arnott says there are a lot of things to go through, including looking at the Business Act and going through the organizational process.

“Once all of this paperwork is in place, we will get everybody into the room and then have a discussion to start a strategic planning session.”

Arnott says she talked to BC Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Val Litwin recently about the preliminary discussions regarding a Regional Chamber of Commerce in the Sun Country region.

“He’s providing me that mentorship and guidance in how I should reach out. He said we were definitely on the right track by getting into the community and talking about a regional concept.” She adds that Litwin says they are there to support the concept.

After it’s all set up and structured, Arnott says the BC Chamber would come in at the six-month mark to meet with the membership. “That would give me a couple of months to go into the communities and share this concept and get some input from individuals.”

If people want to be involved in the whole process, they should let her know so she can include them in the email distribution list. “I’m going to be sending out some updates, so everybody is in the know.” For information or to get on the email list, contact Arnott at darnott@cfsun.ca.


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