Executive Director for the Chamber, Sherri Bohme says the main purpose for the Chamber of Commerce is to advocate on behalf of local businesses.
Advocating for local businesses includes hosting political personalities, forums, round table discussions and networking events for members. “Our primary purpose is advocacy, we can advocate on behalf of our business community. There’s also the extra benefits, our networking opportunities, Business of the Year Awards, and trades shows. But, first and foremost we exist because we are an advocacy group for our business community,” explains Bohme.
2015 the Chamber saw their best year ever with revenue of $31,544. Bohme explains the revenue goes into reserves, “for years, like this one, we’re not expecting to have that kind of revenue,” Bohme says the Chamber is expecting a drop in membership for 2016, due to businesses closing, people moving away from the area, and general cut-backs. “the economy the way it is, this year we’re looking at using some of that revenue to give back to our members. For instance, we do cost-recovery for luncheons, like our AGM, it’s membership money that covers the cost of the luncheon, so our members can register for free and come for lunch and listen to our guest speaker.”
The guest speaker for at the AGM was Darlene Gates, Cold Lake Conventional Operations Manager at Imperial Oil. Bohme notes it was the first time the Chamber hosted an oil industry speakers and is hoping to be able to host more speakers from the industry in the future. “We are very strong in our relationship building and with relationship building it becomes easier to advocate for your members. We have such great relationships with our regional partners, as well as our provincial partners and the government of the day, no matter who that is. We have close relationships with the municipal councils, with 4-Wing, and industry.”
A common misconception is that the Chamber is run by the City or associated with the City, Bohme says this is not the case, “we are not part of the City. We are not an arm of the municipality, we are an anatomist entity. We are a not-for-profit, separate organization.”
“In a slower economic time, it’s really important to be able to belong to an organization, like the chambers. It gives you the opportunity to be part of networking, it’s you out there promoting your business with the vehicle of the chamber. We have access to advertising and things that can help you out.”