Building community partnerships is a priority for the new president and board of the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce.
“Creating common visions and goals for the betterment of Sooke’s businesses can only help boost our growing area,” Karen Mason, elected chamber president last month, said.
“We will also be working closely with the B.C. and Canadian chambers of commerce to bring their experience and knowledge to share with businesses in Sooke and the surrounding districts. I truly believe that a vibrant business community equals a vibrant community overall.”
Following a few years that saw critics of the chamber question its relevance in the community, 2019 saw the business organization begin to raise its profile with a series of initiatives.
It hosted business strategy seminars, launched a social media contest, and co-hosted the 2019 federal election all-candidates meeting.
The chamber is also seeking the return of $28,000 in municipal funding it gave up in 2016, without any expectation of the economic development responsibilities that became earmarked by Council as a condition of that funding.
“It wasn’t reasonable,” Mason said.
“Economic development is a whole career set — a six-figure-a-year job. There was no way that a group of volunteers at the chamber, without experience in economic development, could or should have been expected to pull it off.”
The funding request is still before district council.
Mason said a properly funded chamber of commerce will help to turn the corner for Sooke businesses.
“The chamber is often the first place that people coming to Sooke may visit, just to find out where everything is and what services are available. We act as an advocate for business and for the entire community,” Mason said.
“I’m really hoping that the council and the community as a whole will see the value of the chamber moving forward. We offer training and resources to business, bring in speakers, help with networking and are always there to advocate for our members and the community.”
In addition to Mason, the new board of directors includes Tim Ayres, Sandi Bowers, Les Haddad, Mike Menard, Terrie Moore, Bev Petow, and Brian White. Britt Santowski is the executive directior.