Reflecting on chamber success

The sensation of being on top of the world is a good place to be. We’ve all been on the highs where you feel like nothing is impossible, everything is achievable and no idea is too big.

The sensation of being on top of the world is a good place to be. We’ve all been on the highs where you feel like nothing is impossible, everything is achievable and no idea is too big.

Riding the high or the top of the wave is exactly where I like to be…in fact it is exactly where most of us love to be.

Our chamber is surfing the crest of the wave and we have been for some time now. We have been enjoying some amazing successes in our business community and it’s been fabulous to receive the support our chamber board of directors and staff has enjoyed.

Success only ever comes when people play nice with one another and share the wave, face the challenges as a team and strive forward united with a common goal in mind. This is exactly what I have seen our chamber of commerce do in the past two and half years and the effort has not only come from within. Instead, I have witnessed a business membership, board of directors and staff come together, support one another as a team, recognize, reward and celebrate each other’s success.

Our chamber has had an outstanding 2010 with some incredible points to note. We have stood together and spoken for business on key issues:

n Liquor Distribution Regulations;

n Revenue Canada Taxation;

n Reduced funding for employment programs;

n Reduced funding the not for profit organizations;

n Taxation for business;

n Literacy programming in our community;

n Economic Development;

n Tourism;

n Business Licensing;

n Bylaws amendments

We were also able to launch a brand new website, provide a printed membership directory and we introduced 28 short videos to our 2010 Business Excellence Awards that featured the award nominees.

Several of our events, the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Festival, our Valley-wide Business After Hours at O’Keefe Ranch, our Business After 4 Trade Fairs in partnership with the Downtown Vernon Association (DVA), our Christmas Connections Luncheon and our electronic advertising all sold out in 2010! Our membership is strong with over 720 businesses supporting our association and on average we have 130 people attend our monthly Business After 5, also in partnership with the DVA.

Our board and staff participated in board governance training membership of more than 720 businesses, we created full time employment for an events coordinator and we represented our business membership at the provincial and national policy sessions at both the provincial and federal levels.

The most rewarding success, of course, was the moment our chamber name was called at the 2010 B.C. Chamber of Commerce AGM and conference where we were bestowed with an Honourable Mention for 2010 Chamber of the Year. This was a first in our 113-year history as an organization. Very cool indeed!

The year ahead looks to be another year of success and an opportunity to continue to put Vernon on the map. We have some amazing events and membership ideas that will continue to drive more value into your member investment.

Our brand new, very user friendly website will provide affordable advertising options. Our 2011 Business Excellence Awards have been moved forward to Saturday, March 5 as a result of too many events being held in the month of May. We wanted to relieve some of the pressure and demands on the business community so we selected a new date. Additionally, we will be hosting a business award nominee reception where we will recognize all nominees and announce the top three nominees in each business award category.

We will continue to work with seven chambers south of Vernon to host a Valley-wide Business After Hours which will be held in Lake Country in May. Our Business After 5 event will continue as a partnership with the DVA and the hosting opportunities are fully booked. We are now scheduling in to 2012 for that event.

We have introduced a chamber referral program for our members who assist us in growing the membership of this organization. Very soon you will hear about our ambassador program which has been designed to welcome new business to our community and thank them for their investment in our region.

Our breakfast series kicked off last week with guest speaker George Moen, CEO of Blenz, the Canadian Coffee Company. If you were not able to attend, you missed an amazing session with Moen on how to use social media to grow your business. The room was buzzing with energy and excitement about the information learned at that session.

We will again offer our printed membership directory and all of our membership information will be provided in electronic formats through our website and flash drives.

Lastly, a new general manager will soon be on scene as I am leaving the chamber to pursue other opportunities very close by in our community. Working with this organization has truly been a highlight of my career and one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifetime.

I have met the most incredible people through this job, had an opportunity to participate in committees dedicated to improvement and change wanting nothing but the best for Greater Vernon. It has simply been fabulous.

My board of directors have been amazing and my team has been nothing short of sensational. There are only four ladies in our office and together we managed to make this one incredible team capable of riding any wave. Dianne Skinner, Dianne Fowlie and Kim Bourke – you have just been awesome.

To our chamber membership and business community, thank you for the honour of working for you! It has been my sincere pleasure and I am sure I will see you all at future chamber events.

Thank you Greater Vernon!

Val Trevis is the outgoing general manager of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce.