Cranbrook chamber creates meaningful connections

Kristin Parsons and the Cranbrook chamber staff excel at community engagement

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Kristin Parsons speaks enthusiastically about the Cranbrook chamber's upcoming events

Kristin Parsons, the executive director of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce, has recently been elected to the board of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce. — Marie Milner photo

Kristin Parsons, the executive director of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce, applauds the collaborative relationship that exists between the mayors of Cranbrook and Kimberley. She said the Cranbrook Kimberley Development Initiative demonstrates a successful collaboration that’s beneficial to both communities.

“As well,” she said, “our council has been very forward-thinking in buying the Tembec lands, which will bring sustainable investment and jobs to the community. That’s something that surprised and impressed me about this community. The opportunities for this area and the region is one of the reasons I decided to move here.”

Parsons arrived in Cranbrook in November 2018, and she brims with passion, energy and enthusiasm for her position with the chamber.

“We want to honour and maintain the strong heart of the chamber,” Parsons said, “and we want to move forward in the direction that the board has given us, by building a stronger understanding of the needs of the business community. Our team is new and we want to knock it out of the park.”

Go team

Long-time office manager Laura Kennedy retired on August 1, and Parsons will miss her wealth of knowledge about the community and the chamber membership. “But,” she said, “it’s exciting to go forward, building on Laura’s hard work and passion.”

The chamber now has three new employees. Helen Barron, the membership engagement co-ordinator, focuses on the needs of the members and ways to bridge service gaps. She is compiling a wish-list of ideas from the membership in order to enrich the services offered.

Emma Inman is the visitor services administrator. She works closely with Cranbrook Tourism, which, Parsons said, “...is doing a fantastic job of driving traffic to the chamber. We’re the ones greeting and informing the visitors, and Emma makes sure we’re on the same page with Cranbrook Tourism.”

(L to R) Helen Barron (membership engagement), Emma Inman (visitor services) and Chantel Masse (events) have joined executive director Kristin Parsons on the staff at the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce. — Marie Milner photo

The chamber’s new events co-ordinator, Chantel Masse, is busy with the chamber events planned for the fall and winter—more on those events later.

Parsons has a deep appreciation for the work of the chamber’s volunteers, whom she describes as “dedicated and amazing.”  She is working with Cranbrook Tourism to bring in SuperHost and Destination Ambassador training for the volunteers and the tourism-related businesses in Cranbrook. Details will be posted to the chamber website when they become available.

So much accomplished

Since the first of the year, Parsons and the chamber board have worked hard and produced significant results.

  • January: The chamber created a Government Affairs Committee to focus on advocacy. It’s made up of three board members and multiple members from the business community, for a balanced perspective and input.
  • February/March/April: The committee created three new policies: a Species at Risk Policy, a Wildfire Interface Policy and a Remediation Standards for Legal and Illegal Substance Affected Properties Policy.
  • May: The Cranbrook chamber presented its three policies at the B.C. chamber AGM. All were approved.
  • May: To guide its future achievements, the chamber board created a five-year strategic plan based on its past accomplishments.
  • June: With the help of volunteers, the chamber held its fourth annual Business Walk, collecting information from members of the business community. This information provides insight into what types of services, advocacy and education are needed.

Ramping up for fall

“We have an exciting calendar of events for the fall,” Parsons said. Here is what she said about the events that have been planned to date:

  • September 10: The B.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Cranbrook chamber will host ministers from various government sectors for a discussions about our policies. We get to pick the policies that most affect our business communities, sit down with our chamber associates and really talk about what’s going on and why it’s important. We haven’t had that opportunity before.
  • September 18: A representative from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) will be here to talk with our members about the energy sector and what is in store. NOTE:  A special meet-and-greet has been arranged for members of CAPP and the community.
  • September 21 to 23: For the first time, we will present a policy at the Canadian Chamber AGM—the Remediation Standards Policy.
  • October: During Small Business Week, we’re combining our luncheon with our small business showcase. You’ll pick up your lunch and network with the vendors, and then from 1:00 to 3:00, we’ll run seminars. This will be a sellout event, for sure.
  • November: The president and CEO of Interior Health is coming to speak with us. Changes in health services have a trickle-down effect on the business community—on housing, education and employment as well as health care availability for employees.
  • December: A representative from Angel Flight East Kootenay will be our keynote speaker, talking about its first six months of operation. (Save-On-Foods has announced that all SOF stores in the region will raise funds to support Angel Flight.)

“We’re trying to add value for our members,” Parsons said. “We’re cognizant that we couldn’t be where we are without the work and accomplishments of the employees and boards who were here before us, and the members who inspired them.”

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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