Chamber Achievements Shine
From Building Connection to Pushing Policies, Chamber Makes Your Business their Business
As the year draws to a close, the Trail & District Chamber of Commerce reflects on 2022’s achievements, all made possible by the collaborative efforts of local businesses and organizations.
Photo: Fowler Photography
Sherwin Catindig, Pillar Partner representative from The Josie Hotel, Smoke Eaters Associate Coach Dustin Korlak, Chamber Executive Director Erika Krest, and Smoke Eaters Broadcaster Ben Phillips gather to celebrate the Trail Smoke Eaters’ Tourism Award at the 2021 Business Excellence Awards Gala.
Throughout the year, the Chamber has used storytelling to increase visibility for local businesses, and spearheaded a number of projects that establish the South Kootenay as a supportive environment in which to do business. Executive Director Erika Krest is pleased with what’s been accomplished this year.
“From my point of view, the goal with all the initiatives, events, and activities that we embark on is to pave the way for businesses to cross-promote, collaborate, and build connections with each other,” she says.
With the Chamber’s return to in-person gatherings this year, connection was definitely at the forefront. The Business Excellence Awards Gala, held this June as an outdoor cocktail-style event, celebrated the best of South Kootenay business and created a dynamic that provided business owners and managers a better opportunity to mingle and network.
“We were proud and excited to be included in the gala presentation; it was fun,” says Farren Westlin of Ralcomm, one of the Chamber’s Pillar Sponsors who handed out the locally-designed award plaques. “Recognizing the success of people and businesses speaks to a proactive community that cares and celebrates greatness.”
Pillar Sponsors support the Chamber’s mission to grow business through interactive, fun #ThinkLocalFirst promotions like the ‘This is Our Business’ Photo Contest, which encouraged amateur and professional photographers alike to get shutter happy in the region from July through December.
“I think our local businesses are a huge part of what makes our community our community, so capturing them and putting them on a pedestal is important,” says photo contest facilitator Charlotte Truant of Lota Love Photography. “Plus putting a face to your business encourages your customers to connect more, so why not partake in the fun?”
With over 900 small-to-medium-sized enterprises in the region employing the majority of the area’s professionals, efforts like these are crucial. Initiatives like the Disloyalty Card, which encourages residents to taste a variety of local coffees throughout the fall and winter, offer a fun way to provide support. So does this month’s #ThinkLocalFirst Shopping Bag Campaign, which has citizens filling their stockings with local offerings and reusing the branded tote bags all year long. Michelle Gardner, property manager at Waneta Plaza, the Pillar Sponsor behind the holiday campaign, reminds shoppers that their business matters.
“We have a number of charming locally-owned businesses, and they need community support in order to thrive,” says Gardner, who is now leading the Chamber Board of Directors as the new president after outgoing Doug Jones stepped down in May.
The board didn’t miss a beat, continuing to actively review, develop, and endorse policies and take action to strengthen the local economy. Advocating for the business community remained critical this year, as new policies regarding COVID-19 continued to impact certain industries. For example, restrictions and lack of clear guidelines resulted in the non-ticketed wedding and event industry seeing an approximate 70-90% loss in revenue, as they didn’t qualify for most government-provided financial aid.
Danielle Peet, founder & lead planner of Wild Smile Events, took the opportunity to share her concerns with Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy in February at the Chamber’s bi-annual meeting. The Chamber supported her industry’s bid to find a place at the table by presenting a policy resolution at the BC Chamber’s Annual General Meeting in June.
“Getting support through the Chamber’s connections has been so beneficial,” she says. “It’s been reassuring to know they’re standing by our side.”
Krest points out that satisfying members and fostering teamwork and collaboration are some of the organization’s core values.
This year the Chamber worked with many other value-aligned organizations to positively impact the community, such as coming together with Trail’s IncrEDIBLE Farmers Market to bring back the Kootenay Teen Chef Club (KTCC). “When Food Business Coach Mandi Lunan approached us with this idea, we recognized that it could be an important tool to assist South Kootenay youths and budding entrepreneurs in learning new skills,” says Krest. “Raising future entrepreneurs is a job for all of us. The Chamber is happy to provide a platform for nourishing thoughts and ideas.”
Those are words to live by as we enter a new year with hope in our eyes and ambition in our hearts. The Chamber encourages business owners and residents alike to follow along, keep in touch, and mark Chamber news as important as there is much more in store for 2023.
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