Wolseley is paving the way for small Saskatchewan towns, taking it upon themselves to create exposure and stimulus for the business community through a new Chamber of Commerce.
The Wolseley Chamber of Commerce is the first Chamber to form in the province in about a decade, becoming incorporated on Jan. 17, 2012.
“We met with (the Provincial Chamber of Commerce) only to find out that it has been so long since this has happened that they did not have a set process, so they’ve asked us to provide them with some of the process that we’ve gone through,” said Stewart Scott, chairperson for Wolseley’s Chamber steering committee.
“Smaller communities really have to look at ‘how do we survive?’ and I believe that having a strong Chamber makes a big difference. In many small communities the town council is trying to (run) the administration of the town, plus economic development, plus this, plus that- and quite frankly it’s too much.”
Scott says the Chamber hopes to alleviate some of the pressure on the town by adopting some of the responsibilities and roles related to economic development.
The Main Street Wolseley project, which aims to revitalize and develop the downtown area, was the inspiration for the new Chamber. Conversation and interested surrounded the materialization of a Wolseley Chamber in November 2011, and a five-person steering committee was established in December. The steering committee will be dissolved at the Spring Annual General Meeting (April or May) when a Board of Directors will be elected to take over.
Scott says response to the new chamber has been one of mixed emotion, with some residents and business owners feeling jaded, excited and some expressing a “wait and see” attitude.
Despite the array of feedback received, a survey conducted by the steering committee revealed that 87 per cent of the Wolseley business community indicated a need for a local Chamber, with only 13 per cent indicating that no, a Chamber was not required.
“We’re not worried about what went well and what didn’t with the old Chamber. We know what will work now and that’s what we’re focussing on now,” said Scott. “We can only go up from here.”
“We have a fantastic potential. The people with this Chamber are very progressive and are looking ahead and not behind.”
The Chamber of Commerce will represent the business interests and economic development of Wolseley and district while promoting the establishment of new business, local business networking and expanding the awareness of the Wolseley business community at the regional and provincial level.
The Chamber distributed a survey to a number of local businesses, from which results will help develop the core program development for 2012, which is currently being implemented.
The Chamber will work to support and encourage local businesses by providing them with a platform for advertising, marketing and networking.
“People or businesses looking to relocate do not know anything about the small towns and therefore never approach them. They always approach the enterprise regions, so part of our mandate is to increase our brand awareness at that level (and) make sure we get that kind of exposure,” said Scott, who has a background in economic development and business consultation. “Small businesses are the life and blood of our community and also of our province.”
Regular Memberships are available to businesses and receive all of the Chamber benefits and functions including the ability to vote at all meetings and to be elected to the board of directors. The Associate Memberships are open to individuals and students, providing membership privileges with the exemption of voting and becoming a director.
Membership investments (fees) vary depend on the size and type of business and the classification of membership.
The Wolseley Chamber of Commerce office will open its doors on March 1 at 515 Garnet St. South, Building A.
For more information or for a membership package call Stewart Scott at 306-698-2025.
Results are in from community survey
Through a community survey, it was determined that the following deliverables by the Chamber would be required in order to satisfy the expressed concerns of the business community:
• promote businesses work together
• provide a newsletter and website
• laisie with provincial and regional economic development agencies
• produce brochures and advertising for a brand image
• lobby economic development and municipal agencies to bring new business to town
• provide business information and statistics for our area on the website and advertising material
• provide networking opportunities
• work with developers
• plan social events for the business community
• be a resource for business publications
• provide business seminars and advice
• access to chamber group benefits
• arrange a mentorship programme