Elkford chamber stays on track with local business values

by Brielle Will —

In large part, the role of the Elkford Chamber of Commerce is about supporting and promoting the business community and encouraging new businesses to come to Elkford.

The year of 2012 will be a busy time of growth and development in Elkford, and Kootenay Business spoke with Cindy Gallinger, president of the Elkford chamber, to find out more.

Local business growth

A major goal for the chamber is staying involved and maintaining a strong membership to ensure a vibrant business community.

Recently, the Elkford chamber lobbied some big employers into the area, and rather than pushing for more big-box stores, they were encouraged to support locally with safety awards programs, said Gallinger.

“The more sustainable our businesses are, the more enticing it is to encourage employees to reside in our town,” Gallinger said.

An eventful town

The Elkford Chamber of Commerce has a partnering agreement with the District of Elkford to co-ordinate events throughout the year.

The major ticket-selling occasions in town are Wildcat Days, Volunteer Appreciation Day, the Wilderness Classic Sled Dog Derby and—conceived of just this year—Winter in the Wild, which was held in February.

Winter in the Wild activities included a sno-ball tournament, a torch relay and parade, free night skiing, a dinner and dance, a turkey draw at the curling rink and skating in the outdoor area.

From the first to the last month of the year, the chamber stays involved with many other affairs such as public forums, the Winter Craft Fair, Remembrance Day and the information centre.

A sense of community throughout the Elk Valley

The number of new employees being hired by the local mines and the many suppliers has created a housing shortage in Elkford.

As a result, the districts of Elkford and Sparwood have undertaken a joint housing strategy with Columbia Basin Trust (CBT).

“The chamber hosted one of these meetings and everyone is anxiously waiting to see the results,” said Gallinger of the project, which began last summer and should see a thorough analysis in the coming months.

Another venture is the Elk Valley Regional Economic Development Task Force, which was spearheaded by Elkford’s chief administrative officer, Corien Speaker.

The committee is made up of the CAOs from Elkford, Sparwood and Fernie, as well as chamber presidents and managers, and representatives from both Teck and the B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation.

The main goals of this task force are to champion, support and articulate opportunities for projects and initiatives that contribute to regional economic development in the Elk Valley, as well as to create a network and increase communication among individuals and organizations involved in economic development in the Elk Valley.

Furthermore, the hope is for the task force to stay connected with activities of other regional economic development initiatives that influence the Elk Valley.

“The role of the chamber of commerce is not just to plan events and ask people to donate a prize or volunteer for events,” added Gallinger. “Elkford has a lot to offer, and we hope to be able to offer more.”

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