It has been a busy 7 months…
There are 255 businesses in the valley who belong to the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce. The CVCC staff, board of directors and various committee members have all been busy to best represent the membership and support the CVCC mission statement. Some of our key accomplishments this year involve education, advocacy, networking, and special events.
Education – In the area of Education the CVCC has 2 key initiatives. The first being the Community In Service training developed in partnership with the College of the Rockies a made in the valley customer service training where we talk about the importance of great customer service, how it affects our local economy and how to practice great service. The course also touches on on-line reputation management, selling skills, and local tourist information. We pack a lot of information into an 8 hour program. The second educational initiative is the promotion of the very affordable small business training seminars offered in a webinar format accessible from our website. Small Business BC has something for everyone whether you need to prepare a business plan for financing, create a marketing plan or deal with human resource issues or try to figure out how to prepare and understand your financial statements. Small Business BC offers these courses at a very affordable price and if you own or manage a business in the valley you would be well served to take a look at the long list of available courses. In addition, we hosted Daniel Craig from Destination BC as he facilitated 2 sessions dealing specifically with Online Reputation Management. Contact the CVCC office for more information about anything related to business training we have a wide variety of resources and programs available to our members.
Advocacy – When it comes to advocacy we have had a number of opportunities this year to advocate on behalf of our membership. We held our usual luncheons where we invite local politicians to discuss their achievements and goals for the upcoming year. We also had our Member of Parliament David Wilks present the federal budget and Minister Bill Bennett presented the provincial budget. The President & CEO of the BC Chamber John Winter joined us for lunch in April and spoke about the role of the BC Chamber and the strength of their policy and advocacy work. And this year’s hot advocacy topic for the CVCC has been the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the recent changes made by the Federal Government. Upon notification of the moratorium on April 24th we contacted our MP David Wilks and asked him to meet with members who were affected to hear their concerns. All of our Food Services sector members were invited to meet with Mr. Wilks and 4 members were able to attend the meeting. When the changes to the TFWP were announced our executive director met with Mr. Wilks to review the changes, we then invited CVCC and Radium Chamber members who have temporary foreign workers to attend a meeting 11 chamber members attended the meeting and contributed to the discussion about the impact, advocacy and mitigation strategies. For a copy of the document contact Susan at the chamber office. A number of items resulted from that meeting: (1) our executive director attended a business roundtable meeting with Premier Christy Clark in Kimberley along with 30 or so other business owners and representatives. Susan asked the Premier to consider 2 things: apply resources to deal with the backlog of applications resulting from the changes and to consider changing the 9 month work experience criteria to 3 months. In addition the document that resulted from the local meeting went to the BC Chamber to support their advocacy work related to the TFWP. The mitigation strategies are also being worked on and we have applied for funding to run a job fair in the lower mainland targeted at new Canadians living in the lower mainland who may be unemployed or underemployed. We expect that the staff shortages realized this summer by many of our members will continue to cause difficulty particularly since we are seeing an increase in visitor numbers this year, real estate sales are up and generally our economy is recovering but if we are not able to fill positions and provide the level of service that we have all come to enjoy in the Columbia Valley our economy will suffer therefore your chamber is committed to working hard to make sure that businesses are able to provide the high level of service that their customers and clients expect.
Economic Development – Effective April 1st, 2014 the Columbia Valley Community Directed Funds awarded the CVCC the contract to act as the first point of contact for Invest Kootenay. Invest Kootenay is a tool for both investors looking at investing in the Kootenays and for businesses seeking investors or to sell their business. We are responsible for working with both groups and assisting wherever we can to promote investment in the Columbia Valley. Invest Kootenay is a piece of the economic development puzzle that the CVCC is very proud to support and facilitate on behalf of all businesses in the Columbia Valley.
Tourism Marketing – Our Tourism Marketing Committee meets every week and usually there are at least 10 members around the table discussing tourism marketing and how we can best promote our membership in a collective fashion to potential visitors. We started the year with a Media Familiarity weekend where we invited 40 representatives of various media outlets for a weekend of winter fun. All their accommodations and chosen activities were free in return for promoting the Columbia Valley on their particular media outlet. We had bloggers, radio morning show hosts, TV personalities, and daily newspaper reporters all Tweeting and Facebooking about how great the Columbia Valley is and then they went home and continued promoting us to their audiences. The next project was the first ever community profile in the Experience Mountain Parks magazine that we hand out to everyone who stops in our visitor centre destined for the National Parks. This publication historically has only provided information about the national parks and communities within them. With distribution throughout Alberta and BC we saw this as a great opportunity to promote the Columbia Valley and all that we have to offer. Members were given the opportunity to advertise at discounted rates, along with our committee, the Columbia Valley Golf Trail and the Radium Destination Marketing Organization helped out with funding and stories. All in all we were very pleased with the result and know that over 300,000 visitors to BC and Alberta will have the opportunity to learn more about the Columbia Valley. But the committee isn’t done; in April we were notified that the Guinness Book of World Records had awarded the Whiteway with the distinction of being the Longest Ice Skating Trail in the World measuring at 29.98 kms (beating the previous record holder by over 20 kms). Upon hearing of the award the Tourism Marketing Committee got to work and applied for funding for a marketing coordinator so that this amazing opportunity to promote the Columbia Valley wouldn’t be missed and we would have a focused strategy to promoting this success. We successfully applied for funding from the CVCDFC and quickly followed up by hiring Ali Carter to create the World Record Tool kit. We invited all the key stakeholders to a facilitated brainstorming session, created a feedback survey for those not available to attend the session and Ali continues to consult with key stakeholders including Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club, District of Invermere, local politicians, DMO representative and all the members of the Tourism Marketing Committee. So far we have a Facebook Page, a tag line and in progress is a Wikipedia page, webpage content, a special event as soon as the ice is in, and we are making some minor changes to the video that the Tourism Marketing also facilitated the completion of this year. If you haven’t seen the Take me There video go to our website and have a look it is truly something to be proud of, it captures the breathtaking beauty of the Columbia Valley made even more spectacular by the moving song Take Me There especially written and performed for this project by local musicians Ben and Shilo Cameron.
And if that isn’t enough the Tourism Marketing Committee is also working on another familiarity trip targeted specifically at Corporate Event Planners. This fall we will be inviting 40 event planners from Alberta to come and experience the Columbia Valley as if they were attending a conference. They will stay at various accommodators throughout the valley, have a variety of dining and cultural experiences, attend a plenary session targeted at their industry and participate in adventure activities designed for corporate team building. The committee also applied for funding support from the CVCDFC and was successful in being granted funding to provide transportation for the participants from Calgary and a keynote speaker for their “conference”.
In May we held a very successful golf tournament at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort’s Mountainside Golf Course. The funds raised will be going towards some much needed renovations at the Chamber/Lion Hall so thank you to all those who supported this very fun event, If you didn’t make it this year make sure you have it on your calendar for May 2015. Also in May we attended the BC Chamber AGM where 39 policy resolutions were adopted. To read the adopted policies please go to our website and follow the links. This year 3 new member benefits were added and if you don’t already take advantage of the wide variety of benefits we strongly recommend that you contact our office for more information.
- First Data announced as new provider of merchant services.
- Chamber of Commerce Group Insurance will now offer RRSPs
- NEW Hotel discount provider adds car discount
We continue to operate 3 Visitor Information Centre locations: the main centre on the highway which operates year round and 2 satellite locations one in Fairmont Hot Springs (on behalf of the FBA) and the other downtown Invermere. All 3 locations have been very busy reporting significant growth in visitors over last year.
And now we are planning several other projects:
- August 18th – First Nations Human Resources Roundtable hosted by our MP David Wilks – watch your inbox for an invitation to contribute to this important conversation.
- August 11th – Membership Survey launch – we want your feedback. We are committed to serving the business community of the Columbia Valley in a meaningful way and can only do that with input from the membership and community at large.
- September 30th The CVCC Board of Directors is planning a day long Strategic Planning session members are welcome to participate and contribute to this important process for the organization.
- October 9th – Financial Boot Camp presented in partnership with KRIC – By the end of the 1/2 day session, entrepreneurs will be able to speak more confidently to their accountant and banker about their financial statements. Most importantly, business owners will have an increased knowledge of the financial health of their business and the tools to manage financial decision-making.
- October 23rd – The Annual Business Excellence Awards at Copper Point Resort . Voting is now open and bookmarks are available for you to hand out to your customers and guests to encourage voting. You can stop at either Chamber to get the bookmarks or call us and we’d be happy to drop some off at your business.