Boundary Chamber 2016

Under a new executive director the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce is focused on regional collaboration and growth

Kathy Wright became the executive director of the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce on September 1, 2015.

Kathy Wright became the executive director of the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce on September 1, 2015. — Photo courtesy Kathy Wright

Kathy Wright’s position as executive director of the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce has just been made full time. She said the job of a regional chamber is a big one and she’s pleased about the upgrade.

Wright grew up on Canada’s west coast and moved to southeastern B.C.’s Boundary region after 12 years in Alberta, where she worked in destination marketing for tourism in the Lesser Slave Lake area. She went to work for the Boundary chamber on September 1, 2015.

The Boundary chamber exists to support local businesses and tourism, and Wright is focused on making tourism a more regional effort than it’s been so far.

“My goal this year is to get the east and the west Boundary to collaborate more closely, get our visitor centres communicating more, and raise awareness of the Boundary as a region rather than as individual communities,” she said.

In terms of tourist attractions, Wright believes that the Boundary Country’s multi-use trails have some unusual, unforgettable features.

“Our trails offer so much throughout the region, and our trestles and tunnels in this area are a huge draw,” Wright said. “I do a lot of ATVing, and going over the trestles is such an adventure and gives you a new appreciation for the landscapes. Starting through a tunnel in pitch darkness and waiting to see daylight at the other end is always such a ‘Wow!’ Hiking or mountain biking or ATVing through tunnels is very, very cool. And just experiencing the solitude on the trails—along with the wildlife—is very special. We’d love to have more people come through to enjoy and appreciate our beautiful area.”

Hikers, cyclists and ATVers enjoy navigating the trestles and tunnels that are features of the exceptional trail system in B.C.'s Boundary Country. — Brian McAndrew, Vicom Design Inc. photo

The Grand Forks ATV club and other clubs in the area are doing an inventory of the trails and their features, and they’ve installed excellent signage and created some exceptional loops to ride.

The chamber had its three-year strategic planning meeting in January, and business walks for the Boundary communities are among its planned initiatives. Wright said the chamber’s board members are quite excited to do the first walk, which will involve representatives from the various communities as well as liaisons with the municipal administrations.

“I try to put myself in front of mayor and council at least every quarter,” Wright said, “so I can update them on what we’re doing.”

Wright has a few other objectives for the near future:

  • To increase the chamber membership, for which she believes there’s lots of potential;
  • To start a youth program with the Boundary region schools to get the region’s youth more involved in the business community and the chamber of commerce;
  • To implement a member-to-member benefits program to encourage mutual support for local businesses; and
  • To instigate more ways of encouraging people to shop local and to thank them for doing so.

“We’re holding a round table meeting with our merchants to remind them of the benefits of shopping local,” said Wright. “Shopping local keeps our businesses in business. It provides employment and improved lifestyle, it encourages community support, it keeps our professionals here, it keeps our money circulating locally and it celebrates our uniqueness.”

The vintage gas pump in front of the Midway Bunkhouse—home to one of two offices for the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce—is now a charging station for electric cars. — Brian McAndrew, Vicom Design Inc. photo

If Wright seems to have accomplished a lot in a short time, it may be because she has the unique ability to function well on very little sleep—she often works during the wee hours when no one else is up. The easiest way to contact her is by phone or email, as she divides her time between the chamber’s offices in Grand Forks and Midway.

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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