Regional chamber receives $30,000 for next year

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
November 25th, 2010

A donation of $30,000 from the Grand Forks District Credit Union has solidified the development of a new regional chamber of commerce. Despite this generous contribution, committee members raised concerns over future funding and membership as they forged ahead with their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23.     While both Christina Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Greenwood Board of Trade have indicated they will continue to operate, Winton anticipates that most businesses will become direct members of the regional chamber. David Evdokimoff, president of the dormant Chamber of Commerce of the City of Grand Forks and member of the regional committee, expects that the Grand Forks group will dissipate.   “We don’t have anything in Grand Forks, and there are not a lot of people stepping up to the plate on it,” said Evdokimoff. “So this (the regional chamber) is going to happen.”   Discussions about the proposed budget raised concerns about the number of members needed to create a functional chamber and questions about reliance on government funding for their operations.   “It doesn’t make sense to duplicate,” said Brian Fletcher, committee member and owner of Chain Reaction. “This is one of the big advantages. (Small chambers) can’t afford (an office) because we’re not big enough. A regional chamber will bring us to (a threshold) that we need. The funding needs to change. That’s been the millstone around the chamber’s neck for decades. You go cap in hand to the city and depending on who’s sitting on council the results can vary. So you have no sustainable long-term funding.”   Although Winton agreed with the difficulties working with local government, she advised the committee that they will need to continue to ask for government’s funding support at some level.   “We can tap into the whole area – areas C, D, and E,” said Winton. “So we’re not just relying on one (city).”   Supported by Community Futures Boundary (CFB) through this process, the committee consists of members from across the Boundary. Sarah Winton, project co-ordinator for CFB has been developing the group’s business plan and co-ordinating their board development. Winton reported that there are still modifications needed for the plan which she will be presenting for discussion at their next meeting scheduled for Dec. 3.   Winton also reported to the group that the governance consultant, Kerry Rakuson from Nelson, will be coming to work with the board in January to complete their incorporation requirements.

CFB also announced that they will be starting a business expansion and retention survey in Grand Forks talking with local businesses. Winton said she and three other staff will be knocking on doors soon to ask businesses to help them gage the current state of the economy in the area. If the project is successful, they will be taking it to other areas of the Boundary over the next few months. 

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