Chamber update in charming Castlegar

Castlegar's public art and beautiful parks complement a thriving business sector

Tammy Verigin-Burk is the executive director of the Castlegar & District Chamber of Commerce.

(L to R) Tammy Verigin-Burk, Susan Stewart and Anna Kaytor of the Castlegar & District Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Centre. — Photo courtesy Tammy Verigin-Burk

Outdoor displays of international sculpture, an expansive, made-to-order park and beautifully crafted horticultural displays have contributed greatly to the attractiveness of Castlegar, B.C.

“The Sculpture Walk and Communities in Bloom have made our town beautiful beyond belief in the past few years,” said Tammy Verigin-Burk, executive director of the Castlegar & District Chamber of Commerce. “The City also created our Millennium Ponds and Splash Park, and they’re attracting tourists and  people from all over the West Kootenay and other areas.”

Some of those people have decided to make Castlegar their home, creating a growing need for both basic and lifestyle-enhancing goods and services. Their “shop local” commitment has resulted in an increased number of vendors arriving to meet those needs.

The chamber of commerce supports many initiatives in the business community, including several that occur annually. On the third weekend in April the annual West Kootenay Trade Show will take place in Castlegar’s recreation complex, and it’s expected to break attendance records just as it did last year. The date for the show was moved from March to April in the hope of better road conditions and easier access for vendors and guests.

“It’s a way that businesses can promote themselves en masse,” said Verigin-Burk. “Many vendors stated they were astonished with the number of sales they made right on the trade show floor last year.”

Also on the calendar

The Castlegar chamber and the city council will team up in May to do Castlegar’s first-ever Business Walk, meeting with business owners on their turf to learn about their challenges and successes. Verigin-Burk said she’s confident that the Business Walk will become an annual event.

In June the chamber will salute the business community with a gala evening.

“Our Business Excellence Awards Gala is an event that honours all businesses,” said Verigin-Burk. “Awards are presented and we promote a climate where people can network and celebrate all businesses.”

The chamber’s annual general meeting is held in December, and a monthly Business After Business event provides opportunities for chamber members to socialize, network and get to know each other and their trades. The chamber is now partnering with member businesses in promoting and presenting educational sessions.

It all comes together

Verigin-Burk said that the chamber’s main focus for 2016 is to support business retention, growth and succession planning.

“More than 50 per cent of Castlegar’s businesses have had their doors open for more than 20 years,” she said. “We want to make sure that we support these businesses to create succession plans and we want to be a big part of the growth of new businesses.

“We have a strong relationship with the City and the RDCK as well as the business community. We’re a liaison as well as the voice of business. The only way things get done is when everyone works together.

“We play a pivotal role in supporting our whole region, not just our town. We’re always looking through a regional lens at how we can support our entire area. Our community takes pride in the whole region—we’re Kootenay people.”

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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