CORNWALL, Ontario – In their Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Tuesday, April 27, the Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce explained their shift towards a more value based approach to its membership.
Greg Pietersma, who became the new Executive Director for the Chamber at the start of 2020 explained that he undertook a review of Chamber operations when he began his new job, which included interviews with 40 community stakeholders.
“There was a consistent feeling of a lack of value for the membership and that was repeated often. This was not unique to this chamber,” he said. “Every now and then you need to stop, look at the way you operate, and see if you still support your current members and reflect the current times.”
As a part of this goal, the Chamber began to reduce its physical footprint by cutting ties with ServiceOntario, and selling off their building on the corner of Second St. and Sydney St.
Furthermore, the Chamber has begun creating tool kits for entrepreneurs, which is on its new website that was also launched in the past year.
Chamber President Shannon Lebrun explained that the Chamber has also taken steps in the past year to provide administrative services to local organizations including the Business Improvement Associations, Heart of the City and CREATE.
“Putting us in the heart of these organizations will keep us more informed on activities that can affect our businesses,” Lebrun said.
In terms of the pandemic, the Chamber highlighted how they began from the start to offer support services to all businesses seeking aid, including non-members.
Most recently, the Chamber entered into a partnership with Chamber member Choice Taxi to provide free trips for residents to COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
Going forward, the Chamber hopes to continue to re-grow membership, which had been in decline since 2010. The Chamber’s goal is to reach 700 members by 2025. Currently the Chamber has just under 500 members.
The Chamber also seeks to become more financially stable in the next few years, with the goal of breaking even by 2023 and being fully sustainable by 2025.
Johnston Beaudette Chartered Accountants which the Chamber had contracted to audit their books gave the Chamber a clean audit and noted that expenses had been reduced in 2020 by 29 per cent and that long-term debt had shrunk as well.
The Chamber acclaimed a new Board of Directors at the end of the meeting which include the following: Shannon Lebrun – President corus Entertainment, Kelsey White – Vice-President BMO, Lynn Chauvin – Secretary/Treasurer Chaucor, Shannon Gareau – Director Ramada Inn, Bill Kingston – Director Cornwall Newswatch, Bill Makinson – Director Cogeco / YourTV, Kristin Davey – Director The Happy Popcorn Co., Gina Scandrett – Director ZipGrow, Sue-Anne Heitmann – Director Fairy Sweet Gourmet Bakery, Rizwan Mustafa – Director Sheep’s Head Bistro, and Cherry-Ann Dupres – Director Cornwall Truck Maintenance.