… a comment from the Claresholm Local Press.
Last week the Claresholm and District Chamber of Commerce held their business awards as part of Small Business Week, and it is a good time to look back on what the chamber has accomplished over the past year. Over the 25-plus years the chamber has been in existence, its membership levels have ebbed and flowed. Often when there are fewer members, and the executive starts some sort of membership drive, businesses ask, “What do I get out of being a chamber member?” The leadership of the chamber, that has been in place less than a year, has provided a multitude of answers to that simple question. On a basic level, the chamber provides a voice for business with various levels of government. Brad Schlossberger is the town councillor who represents the council to the chamber. However, that is a two-way street. He also represents the chamber to council. He attends every meeting and he is a standing item on the agenda of every meeting. If someone has something to discuss with him that they do not wish to say in front of a group of people, they can e-mail or phone him. Not only does he pass out his business cards at meetings, but his e-mail will be included on agendas. The Town of Claresholm is also represented by Brady Schnell, the economic development officer, who also attends chamber meetings. The chamber offers a group benefit plan that may be appealing to small businesses to offer their employees as well, in addition to other benefits such as deals and discounts on various services. Another exciting, and tangible thing the chamber has been doing for awhile now, is having education sessions and offering training opportunities to members. That has taken the form of guest speakers at meetings. Most recently, it was a successful business conference that provided information on a wide range of subjects as well as networking opportunities. The chamber plans to continue to offer training and education throughout the year. The chamber also organizes events that not only bring the community together but provide exposure to its members. The two biggest examples are the town and country trade fair and Old Fashioned Christmas. The trade fair has had up to 1,000 visitors come through the doors in past years, and that kind of exposure is rare for a business. The trade fair also offers the chance to network and see what goods and services are available in the community. Old Fashioned Christmas is a late night shopping event geared to showcasing businesses, mainly downtown, and what they have to offer. One last benefit, but by no means the final one, is the aforementioned business awards. These allowed customers to pay tribute to the businesses they frequent and the ones they believe provide exemplary service, get involved in the community, or endeavour to improve themselves. It is a long but not exhaustive list of what the chamber does for businesses in the community, and the community as a whole. They are always looking for new members so, if any of these benefits appeal to you, think about joining the chamber of commerce. The future looks bright. ~RSV
Reproduced with permission from the Claresholm Local Press.