The Executive Director of The Bonnyville & District Chamber of Commerce says they have big plans for the Lakeland in 2022.
On February 8, Executive Director of the chamber, Serena Parsons made a presentation to the Town of Bonnyville at the regular council meeting.
The presentation to Council was to talk about what the chamber does and why they are important to the economic development of our community.
“We do represent 258 business members within our community that includes almost 5000 full and part-time jobs in our region,” Parsons said in the meeting. “We have many partnerships throughout the region. We do so much with the local chambers of commerce, as well as Community Futures Lakeland. We do believe that we need to rally as networks and come together to make the biggest impact for our communities and our businesses in times of need. Unfortunately, those times it may have been in front and center over the last two years, events that we had in 2021.”
Parsons outlined, “Despite its challenges, we were able to host our first annual Christmas Chamber Christmas Craft Show and Expo in partnership with the Festival of Trees, which I loved and I can’t wait to see the growth of that event and to speak with a ton of people about some amazing ideas. That we have to grow both events. Of course, we did some small business week members feature videos we were able to bring back the Corporate Challenge Golf Scramble and our chili cook-off.”
Although putting events off during the pandemic was challenging The Bonnyville and District Chamber of Commerce still gave back to the communities it loves.
“We also gave back $5,771 for local charities and businesses through events and programs,” Parsons said. “And under advocacy in 2021, we launched a new chamber website.”
The chamber was front and center for COVID-19 response by volunteering their services to our community and launching a rapid testing program in partnership with the Government of Alberta.
“We currently have 40 businesses registered for that program and have distributed up until our last lot over 12,000 tests to the area,” Parsons said.
The Bonnyville & District Chamber of Commerce was committed during 2021 to enticing people to shop locally.
“We launched a shop local campaign and introduced chamber market which is an online e-commerce platform to the Bonnyville area,” Parsons said. “We participate in weekly calls with the Alberta Chambers of Commerce to help identify gaps and services. We also participated in several advocacy meetings with Premier Kenney directly, as well as various minutes ministers to relate the impact COVID-19 and the restrictions they had on businesses. So of course, everything that we do is for our community and our local businesses. So we’re still working on all of those things, and bringing all of those things back in 2022 with the addition of many other things.”
Big Plans for 2022
Parsons told Council during the meeting that The Bonnyville & District Chamber of Commerce has big plans for the Lakeland in 2022.
“Between now and in the spring we have four webinar events scheduled that will be happening, the most recent coming up on February 23,” Parsons said. “We also have workshops for our businesses that they can participate in. We are having a business network support meeting on February 17. And I want to thank and I see many councillors already involved there and registered for that. So thank you so much.”
According to Parsons, the network support meeting is “A business roundtable where we can talk and network about issues and challenges and what we need to happen. We’re hoping to have representatives from industry, of course, municipalities, as well as many businesses. So far we have great registration. We have had challenges with that in the past and especially throughout COVID. But I really think that people know the importance of such meetings now on those networks, and we’re really happy to bring that back.”
Parsons says The Bonnyville & District Chamber of Commerce has already begun planning for a district oil and gas show.
“We are in full swing planning right now. And so excited to bring that back to our region on June 15 and 16,” Parsons said. “And thank you so much to, of course, the Town of Bonnyville for your continued support of that event.”
Yesterday, the Alberta Government announced the abolishment of the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP).
“Everything that we’re going to be doing this coming year, we’re looking at doing it in person and right now the REP program is done so we’re really happy to hear about that,” Parson said. “And we’ll be talking to businesses about how that is going to impact them.”
During her presentation, Parsons voiced to Council how important The Bonnyville & District Chamber of Commerce is in the Lakeland community.
“So one thing I always say is that we work for our members, which is absolutely true,” Parsons said. “But we are first and foremost dedicated to our community and the economic development of the Lakeland region. So that is what we are here to do and what we continue to do and what we have a lot coming up for 2022. We have a speaker and workshop series happening between now and this spring – four incredible speakers and four workshops to help businesses with workforce development. We are so excited to be able to offer more programs and events to promote networking and communication between business, the municipalities and the community – one of which is our Business Support Networking meeting happening on February 17 via zoom. However, the hope is continue with these events in person in the future.”
When the presentation was complete, at the regular council meeting, Mayor Elisa Brosseau thanked Parsons on behalf of the Town of Bonnyville for the insightful information.
“The chamber does work really hard for its members and it definitely shows in the programming, the events, and the advocacy that you do so thank you so much,” Mayor Brosseau said.