The St. Paul and District Chamber of Commerce expects to run a deficit in 2021 according to the budget passed online via zoom on Feb. 18.
Financially, the Chamber took a hit in 2020 from not being able to host their annual Rodeo supper fundraiser. According to the financial report, in 2019 the St. Paul Chamber earned $7,578 from the Rodeo supper after expenses. In 2020, there was no expense from the supper but also no revenue.
According to Executive Director Linda Sallstrom, the 2021 budget was challenging to produce because there are so many unknowns, but they tried to stick close to the numbers they anticipate through COVID.
“Things like the rodeo supper, we put in as a wash. We do want to hold something but we can’t anticipate that actually taking place so that’s really been a challenge to do. When everything’s said and done, we do look like we are running a deficit,” said Sallstrom.
According to the budget presented at the meeting, which was supported by the membership present, the Chamber expects to run a $8,800 deficit in 2021.
“That does not take into consideration that we are continuing to have our bookkeeper scale back in her hours, as well as we’re continuing to get the salary wage subsidy,” she said.
President Brent Sandmeyer said they had tried to produce a very conservative budget and noted the $3,500 of revenues projected for the sign logo program is based off what is currently sold.
“If we sold one sign, we would increase that amount,” said Sandmeyer.
The sign logo program refers to the large blue signs at the east and west ends of the Town of St. Paul. The signs are a provincial program operated by the Chamber of Commerce. Businesses can rent space on the signs for a five-year term.
Membership to become yearly instead of by calendar year
An amendment to the by-law will see membership change from being based on a January to December calendar year to a 12-month period from the date of purchase. According to Sallstrom, one of the reasons for the change is because the online system used to renew memberships is not able to pro-rate the annual fee if someone becomes a Chamber member in June.
“It also pushes the work throughout the year. Right now our bookkeeper is doing all of those renewals in the month of December and this would allow her to do that throughout the year,” she said.
Sallstrom said they also like to encourage people to become members as soon as they start their business.
“Some businesses are choosing to wait until that new year and then sometimes we lose them, or we lose that continuity with them. So we’d like to get them on board as soon as we can,” she said.
There are four different levels of membership in the Chamber largely based on the number of employees in the business. Fees range from $105 for affiliates to $262.50 for companies with 16+ employees and government agencies.
Chamber continues to provide information
St. Paul and District Chamber of Commerce President Brent Sandmeyer presented his annual report which included a review of the Chamber’s initiatives in 2020. He noted that like businesses, the Chamber had to adjust their plans because of COVID-19.
“We had a lot of ongoing communication with our membership, lots of questions as lots of programs came out,” said Sandmeyer. He said although it was hectic, the Chamber was still able to provide a lot of information to area businesses as they navigated federal and provincial COVID-19 relief programs.
“We didn’t have any in-person learning events. We tried to do a few online but I think people were zoomed out. So we did provide some networking opportunities and we continued with the BSNs [Business Support Network meetings],” said Sandmeyer.
He said behind the scenes, the Chamber has been extremely involved in the regional tourism initiative and the St. Paul Elk Point Economic Development Alliance. Sallstrom said they have also been working on their labour market survey for the region and expect the results to be released in March.
Four people were re-elected to the board of directors by acclamation – Gisele Nielsen, Cindy Geertsen, Debra Poulin, and Ron Wirsta. The position of 1st Vice President remains vacant.