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Fort Macleod Chamber working for community

LINDA HENNING, GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
The Fort Macleod and District Chamber of Commerce has been in Fort Macleod since 1888 which brings it to 130 years.
“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future,” John F. Kennedy said.
On Feb. 12, Chamber president Becky Housenga made a presentation to council outlining the activities of the Chamber over the past year.
The Chamber’s vision is a strong local economy serving as the voice of business in the community and district, recognizing that a healthy community is a requirement for a healthy business, and vice versa.
The executive has increased its efforts to promote, support, advocate and guide the business and civic communities in the Fort Macleod area to nurture positive business and community growth.
To this end, the Chamber hosted the traditional events that help bring the community together for fun and entertainment: the annual antique show and sale in June, the Taste of Fort Macleod in September, the electoral forum in October, the business awards banquet in October, as well as the Christmas Shopping Spree and Midnight Madness on the eve of the town’s famous Santa Claus Parade.
New focus groups formed to provide more value to the membership.
The economic development committee has a mandate to investigate opportunities and challenges for all businesses, with the goal to grow and develop the existing business community and attract new business, improving the community as a whole.
This committee, through discussions with the town, has prompted the review of the development process, and the need for updated planning documents, to name a few. More information on this committee will be coming.
The downtown core committee will be discussing beautification and improvement of the area; and hosting various events throughout the year to attract locals as well as those from outside our town, making it a destination.
The attractions and retention committee is mandated to develop an information program for businesses to use in attracting workers and professionals to the town to live. Their recent success in attracting a new physician is just the first step.
A joint discussion about economic development for Fort Macleod has been planned for March, including representatives from the Chamber focus committees, the town and Community Futures. Linda Eriksen of Alberta Economic Development will lead the conversation to understand the goals, the challenges, the opportunities and how to get them completed.
Advocating for Chamber members started with discussing irritants raised by membership with CAO Sue Keenan in order to get answers, and sometimes solutions.
The Chamber sent a letter to neighbouring chambers, MP John Barlow, MLA Pat Stier and the Alberta Liberal MPs against the federal small business tax reform.
Members, including those who have businesses in Fort Macleod but live in the MD of Willow Creek, were polled about their thoughts on the sale of the electrical distribution system, following up with a letter to town administration.
Through the expansion of the committees within the Chamber, it has been successful in doubling the volunteerism within membership.
Personal development and networking has been encouraged by supporting webinars, workshops and educational programs to our executive and assistant; encouraging the vice-president to participate in a University of Calgary continuing education course on economic development fundamentals and then to attend the economic development conference.
The business co-ordinator and liaison has attended webinars and joined groups within the Alberta Chamber of Commerce to support her position.
Also, the Chamber president joined an advocacy workshop sponsored by the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce which included a pre-budget consultation with Finance Minister Joe Ceci, and Environment Minister Shannon Phillips.
The Chamber’s primary consideration is the affect on town and businesses with continued monthly meetings with Town of Fort Macleod CAO Sue Keenan, keeping both sides informed of activities by sharing and discussing the best way to approach common issues. This process is working very well.
To continue the success in its commitment to members the Chamber held, for the first time, an executive planning session to create goals for the year and to clarify roles and responsibilities of volunteers and paid staff.
The Chamber is looking forward to a new year with a new council to create unified growth and development in the community. You will be hearing more from the Chamber in the coming year, and members hope to hear from you about how the Chamber is doing.
Contact the Chamber at fmchamber1888@gmail.com.

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