Kimberley chamber review 2016

Increasing membership and recognizing achievements has been the recent focus for the Kimberley Chamber of Commerce

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(L to R) Bronte Dickson of Kootenay Business magazine presents the Professional Services Award to Sun Life Financial’s Karly Berry and Rachelle Colthorp, with Kimberley chamber director Thomas Datt

(L to R) Bronte Dickson of Kootenay Business magazine presents the Professional Services Award to Sun Life Financial’s Karly Berry and Rachelle Colthorp, with Kimberley chamber director Thomas Datt. — Photo by Liz Royer for Kimberley Daily Bulletin

For chambers of commerce in Canada, October is often one of the busiest months of the year. Small Business Week happens during the third week of October, and in Kimberley, B.C., a couple of the chamber’s biggest annual events are held around that time.

The Kimberley & District Chamber of Commerce held its third annual Business Expo on October 20, this year partnering with the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of the Business Expo is to educate entrepreneurs about the supports that are available to businesses in the region. Those support agencies include the Business Development Bank of Canada—originator of Small Business Week—College of the Rockies, Community Futures, Women’s Enterprise Centre, Kootenay Aboriginal Business Development Agency and many others.

Just a couple of days later, the Kimberley chamber held its Business Excellence Awards gala, where the best and brightest businesses in Kimberley were recognized for their exceptional business practices.

Janet Johanson, left, of Bear's Eatery, recipient of the 2016 Food & Beverage Excellence Award, with Tamara Duggan of Tamarack Dispensaries, recipient of the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year Award — Photo courtesy Janet Johanson

Mike Guarnery, executive director of the Kimberley chamber, is now taking a deep breath before plunging into the winter schedule of events.

“The Inter-Community Business Licence should be available as of January 1,” he said, referring to a joint initiative of the Cities of Kimberley and Cranbrook. The new licence will allow businesses to operate in the two communities under one business licence. “This will make it less expensive for businesses, and it will keep the administration costs and work down for them and the municipalities. It’s a good deal, especially for tradespeople, caterers and such.”

Winter and the holiday season bring with them some popular events for Kimberley’s community at large as well as the business community. Thousands of people come out for the Platzl Light-Up, organized by the chamber and scheduled for November 19, and winter markets are popular throughout the season.

“We also have an official winter market, sponsored by the chamber, on the Alberta Family Day weekend in February up at the Kimberley conference centre,” Guarnery said. “That event fills up quickly—people register through the Meet Kimberley website. This event includes anyone with a home business and those who are farmers market vendors. It’s a busy, high-traffic event.”

The market is facilitated by chamber directors who volunteer for the setup, unloading and carrying of goods for the vendors. “That can be a real bottleneck time,” said Guarnery, “with everyone arriving and trying to get their goods inside and arranged, and the vendors really appreciate the help.”

Guarnery said that there have been quite a number of new businesses opening in Kimberley, and some have already joined the chamber. There are now six retail outlets in the old Fields mall.

“We want to expand our profile with Imagine Kootenay,” he said. “It is a good product that we use to help promote businesses that are for sale—we use the Imagine Kootenay website to make that information available to people outside the area. It’s expanded from just investment to include employment and lifestyle, and we want to make sure we get the word out about using that site.”

The Kimberley and Cranbrook chambers of commerce are planning further joint projects. They have bid to jointly hold a chamber executive conference next year and have discussed a proposal to host the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM at the Kimberley Conference & Athlete Training Centre in 2018. This collaboration is an example of future joint projects of the Cranbrook Kimberley Development Initiative.

In early January the Kimberley chamber board will review its targets from 2016 and formulate goals and a strategic plan for 2017. Its constant focus is to increase membership numbers, and the chamber does that by demonstrating the value of chamber membership and providing events and training opportunities for its members and potential members.

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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