Bow Valley Chamber elects new board

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The Bow Valley Chamber of Commerce elected five new board members during its annual general meeting on Friday (Feb. 15).

Janet Nystedt, a lawyer by trade and member of the chamber’s advocacy committee, was elected president and will take over the role from Brian McClure.

“I’m really excited about the new role,” said Nystedt, following her election.

“I have big shoes to fill because Brian has done an exceptional job in bringing the chamber along, so I think all of us are feeling very optimistic and looking forward to the challenge.”

Looking ahead, she said her top two priorities will be member retention and supporting the chamber’s two independent initiatives, namely Innovate Canmore and a health and wellness festival slated for October.

Peter Pilarski, vice-president for CIPR Communications, was elected treasurer, while Wendy Simpson, owner of Tapas Restaurant, was elected as the chamber’s secretary.

Cheryl Cooper, president and CEO of Vitallife Concepts Inc., and Gavin Hermacy, owner of Skiuphill, were both elected directors at large.

Expectations will be high for the new board as it begins its second year in business, which now includes 231 members and counting.

“We launched in January 2017, a year ago, with a mission to basically be the Bow Valley’s business champion,” said McClure prior of the board’s election.

Over the next 12 months the regional chamber hopes to increase membership to 350-400 members, with a particular focus on attracting businesses outside of Canmore through its “I belong campaign.”

“We are a regional chamber of commerce and if we look at other regional chambers of commerce they have 2,000 to 3,000 members, so I would expect that we would be moving towards that level of critical mass within that period of time,” said McClure in response to a question about where he sees the chamber in five year’s time.

Currently, 90 per cent of its members are located in Canmore, which is not particularly surprising given that it formed after the demise of Canmore Business and Tourism in 2016.

In 2018 the chamber, which represents businesses from Lake Louise to the western border of Cochrane, hopes to attract members from across its entire jurisdiction and has already managed to pull several businesses from Calgary that do business in the Bow Valley because membership fees here are significantly cheaper.

Currently, it costs $125 to $825 per year to join the chamber, depending on the number of employees a business has. There is also a $30 one-time enrollment fee.

Through it’s membership fees, the chamber generated approximately $33,000 in revenue last year, representing just under 50 per cent of its total income of $73,435.

On the flip side, the chamber spent approximately $25,000 on programs representing about a third of its total expenses of $72,215. Tallied up, the chamber ended the year near even with a net operating income of just over $1,200.

Among its most successful programs this year was the launch of Innovate Canmore, which received $25,000 from the Town of Canmore in fall to pay for a feasibility study to establish a 4,000 square foot tech research and development facility in The Shops of Canmore, a new multi-commercial development slated for the corner of Bow Valley Trail and Benchlands Trail.

Among other highlights, the chamber held its first Bow Valley Business Excellence Awards in October, which saw more than 150 people attend and nine businesses recognized with awards.

The chamber also held five conversation cafes covering topics such as taxes on small businesses and municipal politics, as well as learning events about topics such as cannabis legalization and the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta. The chamber also focused its advocacy work on five main topics this year, including changes to the federal corporate income tax, provincial carbon tax, new labour laws, minimum wage and the legalization of marijuana.

For more information about the chamber visit www.bowvalleychamber.com.

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