The Estevan Chamber of Commerce had a strong year in 2013, executive director Michel Cyrenne said during his State of the Chamber Address at the chamber's annual general meeting on March 19.
The chamber spent the last year advocating for members with all three levels of government, in an effort to encourage policy that benefit members and encourage further business and economic development.
“At the municipal level ... we have been having significant discussions with council and the City's new management team,” said Cyrenne. “We are asking to see an improvement in strategic planning, financial planning and transparency.”
The chamber also held several events that were well-received by members and the community.
“We host events for our members for three reasons: to showcase the local business community, to celebrate the local business community and to assist members of the local business community,” said Cyrenne.
An economic development plan was finalized last summer, and it has three key categories: investment attraction and retention; labour recruitment and retention; and business growth, development and retention.
“Note retention in each of those,” said Cyrenne. “In any economic development aspect, that is absolutely a key component.”
This year will be a busy one for the chamber. It's the final year for the chamber's strategic plan, Cyrenne said, so board members and staff will meet to discuss objectives for the next three years.
Other key priorities for the upcoming year will include advocacy, new and existing events, the new economic development plan and the Estevan Hotel Association.
Their inaugural Estevan Energy Expo will be happening in June. It will not only promote local oil, mining and electrical generation companies, and all that they do for the community, it will showcase Estevan for the industries.
“Estevan has a strong brand as Saskatchewan's energy capital,” said Cyrenne. “We need to build upon that brand, we need to promote our successes and achievements so people around the world will know the great things taking place in our community.”
The chamber will also switch to quarterly luncheon meetings instead of monthly meetings, and they'll try to bring in more high-profile speakers for those luncheons. There'll also be three training seminars, and three after-hours events, which will allow business owners to host colleagues at their place of business.
The chamber will also continue to push for changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, so that it is easier for local businesses to recruit foreign workers.
Financial statements were released during the annual meeting. The chamber incurred a deficit of $93,000, but that reflects the $104,000 transfer of assets and funds to the Souris Valley Museum. The museum is now operating independently of the chamber.
If not for the transfer, the chamber would have boasted a slight surplus of about $10,000.
The board for 2014 was also sworn-in by Estevan RCMP Sergeant Cate Rigaux. Aaron Ludwig, Sheila Guenther, Catherine Welta-Eagles, John Williams and Caryn Halbert are new board members elected for this year.. Several others are returning from last year.