After the former Chamber of Commerce crashed and burned so spectacularly a few years ago, there has been a void in the business community in Tumbler Ridge. But the former Chamber has been dissolved, and a new Chamber is in the process of being formed in Tumbler Ridge.
The first tentative steps towards forming a new organization came Wednesday, March 24, when representatives from the Municipality, from the BC Chamber of Commerce, and from the local business community met in rooms four and five to discuss starting up a new Chamber of Commerce.
Economic Development Officer Ray Proulx represented the district. While the District will not be involved in the Chamber in any way (a Chamber is an autonomous body, representing the business community), he says that a Chamber would be good for the town. ?A Chamber is probably the most surefire way for the business community to strengthen itself internally, and it is the business community who drive the local economy. Anything we can do to make them stronger will help the community as a whole.?
Proulx is worried that some people might misunderstand the District?s gesture as attempting to assert some form of control over the Chamber. It?s not. ?We don?t want to create the perception that the municipality controls or dictates what the Chamber does. They will be an independent body. What we?re doing is just initiating the dialogue, and seeing what happens.?
Proulx says that getting a business organization up and running is one of the District?s top priorities. As an incentive, he says the district is willing to kick in all the money collected for business licenses to kick-start the Chamber. ?Last year, that amounted to about $25,000,? says Proulx.
?Based on past experience and common sense, it?s difficult to run a Chamber without funds, so we thought we?d put them ahead, financially and give them a bit of leverage to raise their own funds. The reason the first Chamber folded was because of lack of funding. We?d like to help them out in that regard.?
Susan Munroe, District 12 Representative for the BC Chamber of Commerce told the audience that there is no one universal model for how a Chamber operates. ?A Chamber is what you, the local businesses, make it.?
She suggested that a temporary board be struck to start working on laying the groundwork for a new Chamber, but many people in the room were hesitant to jump in with both feet. For some, it was past experiences. For others, it was the fact that many people in the business community weren?t at this meeting, for a variety of reasons. For still others, it was the thought of joining an organization where the community?s voice could be lost, and it was suggested that instead of joining the Chamber, an Independent Business Organization be formed instead.
At the end of it all, a five-member committee was struck instead, to start doing research, contacting local businesses about the next meeting and to answer questions about the benefits of joining the BC Chamber rather than forming an independent society.
The next meeting will be April 7th at the Community Centre in Rooms 4 & 5 at 7:00 pm. At that point in time, the plan is to elect a temporary board and begin the process of incorporating a Chamber. Owners of local businesses–large or small–are encouraged to attend.