Columbia Valley chamber 2017

The Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce is focused on valley-wide economic development

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Susan Clovechok (right), executive director of the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce, checks out a coach that should soon be engaged to shuttle Columbia Valley residents between the valley and Calgary.

Susan Clovechok (right), executive director of the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce, checks out a coach that should soon be engaged to shuttle Columbia Valley residents between the valley and Calgary. — Photo courtesy Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce

Economic development continues to be a priority for the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce (CVCC). Susan Clovechok, executive director of the CVCC, embraces opportunities to learn the needs of the business community and the potential resources for satisfying those needs.

Clovechok sits on the Columbia Valley Community Economic Development Commission, an advisory commission struck by the Regional District of East Kootenay to provide advice on economic development initiatives for the Columbia Valley. Through the District of Invermere’s successful application to B.C.’s $100-million Rural Dividend Fund (RDF), the Columbia Valley received $159,600 to be applied to economic development efforts.

On April 25, 2017, Community Futures East Kootenay presented the CVCC board of directors with a cheque for $5,000 to support the Columbia Valley Transportation Initiative. According to Clovechok, the CVCC needs to raise $20,000 to provide administrative support for regularly scheduled transportation to and from Calgary. This project was initiated by conversations with seniors in 2016, and through a series of stakeholder consultations will soon be a service available for all community members.

Mark Digney, Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce board member/treasurer, accepts a cheque from Sarah Bennett, Community Futures East Kootenay board member, and Keri Sanderman, investment fund manager, Community Futures East Kootenay. — Photo courtesy Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce

The service will be provided by Olympus Stage Lines, current holder of contracts with BC Transit and Interior Health for the weekly medical bus service to Cranbrook. The Invermere Hospital Auxiliary has committed to providing a further $5,000 to be a marketing partner.

Focus on business

After a successful first Business Walk in November 2015, the CVCC will hold its second Business Walk in June 2017.

“We had 125 businesses participate, which gave us good representation for our business community,” said Clovechok. “One of the biggest gaps that we saw was succession planning. It’s really important that people develop their exit strategy before they need one. It’s sad to see businesses simply close, with no buyer—it leaves a hole in the community.”

The reach of the Business Walk may be expanded somewhat this year, with the addition of an online option for participants.

Clovechok applauds the efforts of the Columbia Valley Tourism Marketing Committee, a committee of the chamber made up of a group of volunteer tourism stakeholders who are collaborating to promote the Columbia Valley as a whole.

“The community consultation they’ve done has been outstanding,” said Clovechok. “There are usually 60 to 80 people at their update meetings because this is important to this community.”

The CVCC board’s strategic plan states: “Through the collaborative and advocacy efforts of the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Columbia Valley has a thriving economy and an engaged business community.” The initiatives that Clovechok is spearheading all support that vision.

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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