It has been a year of change for the Kimberley Chamber of Commerce, says President Darren Close, but also a year of accomplishment.
The Chamber held its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday night at the Kimberley Conference and Athlete Training Centre, and the board reported to its members on the new focus and direction it intends to take.
It was also time to welcome new members to the Board. Joining those who have one year remaining in their term — those being Greg Bradley, Darren Close, Tamara Duggan, Schaun Goodeve, Kieran Hickey, Janet Johanson, Grant Sharam, Liana Shaw and Virginia Watson — are new board members Bev Campbell, Simone Desautels, Jaime Funk, Chantal Hack, Tylene Turner and Alison Walker.
“I think we have a strong board,” Close said. “New directors coming on board add to that strength.”
The biggest change for the Chamber is that it is no longer operating the Visitor Centre. Tourism Kimberley took over at the beginning of the year and are renting the Chamber-owned building.
Close says that turning over Visitor Centre duties does not alleviate responsibility to advocate for the tourism sector but frees up time to better support business.
The Chamber itself has found a new office and will operate out of an office between Our Place Restaurant and Trickle Creek Gallery on Wallinger Avenue.
“It’s a positive, visible location. It was a goal to be more visible, to be easily accessible.”
A new manager is also being recruited. Employees have gone down from three to one with the hand-over of Visitor Centre duties.
The Chamber wants to take a leadership role, Close said.
“We are the voice of business in Kimberley. We advocate and offer assistance and we want to hear from you.”
The Chamber has set goals for itself. They want to work toward increasing membership by 15 per cent each year, grow event revenue by 20 per cent in the next three to five years and build a reserve fund of $15,000.
“We have to be financially responsible. We must increase value to our membership to be sustainable,” Close said. “Events have to be run in a profitable manner.
“We want to be recognized as promoters and leaders of your business. We want to brag about your business and the opportunities available in this community.”
The Chamber has just completed negotiating their Fee for Service agreement with the City of Kimberley, and Past President Schaun Goodeve reported that it was an intensive negotiation and acknowledged the hard work of the City’s Director of Economic Development Kevin Wilson.
The Chamber will conduct a business survey as part of the agreement as well as take the lead on the Invest Kootenay business promotion.
JulyFest is being revamped, Goodeve said.
“We will be making money and lots of it. We have all kinds of ideas to improve it.”
Mayor Ron McRae also addressed the AGM, reaffirming the City’s commitment to the Chamber.
“I applaud the Chamber for moving through this time of change, for being positive and progressive,” he said. “I believe this is the right direction.”