Re: Council rejects chamber funding request (News, Feb. 19; Online, Feb. 11)
I was disappointed to read several misconceptions regarding the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce. Thank you for bringing these misunderstandings to our attention and allowing us to address them.
There is a belief that the chamber only provides services to its members. To clarify, all of our events have served and will continue to serve all local businesses, whether chamber member or not.
The chamber serves business in the Greater Sooke Region. Case in point: the highly anticipated annual Business Excellence Awards Gala. Nominations are open to and accepted for all businesses from Sooke to Port Renfrew. This is also true for our Business Strategy sessions, networking events, golf tournaments, and political all-candidates meetings.
In fact, events like the golf tournaments and all-candidates meetings are open to the public, not just business owners.
It’s true chamber members get extra benefits, like a reduced price, exclusive communications, access to certain benefit plans and membership privileges, but the chamber works for the benefit of all of Sooke, whether business or community. A vibrant local economy, after all, serves our membership well.
The article also mentions the chamber’s former service agreement with the District of Sooke. As I understand, the $28,000 of funding to the chamber was to come from revenues generated through business license revenue.
This former service agreement allowed the chamber to deliver services beyond the mandate of membership. As detailed above, the chamber has continued the spirit of this service agreement, although it is true that we lost the ability to deliver on a number of programs we previously oversaw with the previous funding from the service agreement.
Our local chamber is comprised of one part-time paid employee and eight volunteer directors who all hold down full-time employment or run their own businesses.
This enthusiastic, well qualified and dedicated board is “getting our act together.” We are in the process of rebuilding a robust organization that values its solid partnerships with the District of Sooke and other Sooke groups for the benefit of the whole community.
Communities large and small across Canada have chambers of commerce which provide credibility that their community is open for business. Our goal is to do just that, and we strive to be the trusted information hub for new and existing residents and those seeking to open a business in our community.
We welcome any comments or questions about what the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce brings to our community.
Again, thank you for bringing these misconceptions to our attention and allowing us to address them. We are committed to continually improving the chamber, and we have clearly heard that we need to better communicate the scope of our program offerings to local businesses as well as to the community at large.
Karen C. Mason is the new president of Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce.