BC Chamber president and CEO Val Litwin at the CVCC/Lions Hall Tuesady, March 6th

BC Chamber comes with praise for local organization, boosts BC-wide message

Val Litwin promotes BC Chamber in talk to local members

The BC Chamber came with high praise for the local Chamber of Commerce at their recent annual general meeting.

BC Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Val Litwin was in the Valley last week to encourage the local Chamber and promote what the provincial organization is doing. He said the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce does a great deal of good in this community.

“Not all chambers are created equal; not all chamber leaders are created equal,” Mr. Litwin remarked at the AGM, held Tuesady, March 6th at the Columbia Valley Chamber/Lions hall. “You really have a special community and a special chamber here.”

He applauded the work done by the local team on projects such as the transit system coordinated by the Chamber after the loss of Greyhound service to the Valley.

Mr. Litwin brought the company message to Chamber members, citing the benefits of the provincial organization and assuring attendees of the hard work the provincial Chamber is undertaking on behalf of the members.

“The BC Chamber is still B.C.’s biggest and broadest business network,” said Mr. Litwin. “Our network is non-virtual. We don’t have 36,000 likes on our Facebook page. We have 36,000 businesses we support: entrepreneurs, leaders, captains of industry that we work with day in and day out.”

The BC Chamber of Commerce is shifting from the slogan ‘the voice of business’, to ‘knowing what’s on B.C.’s mind’, reflect the changing demographics of its members, Mr. Litwin reported.

“It speaks to the fact we’re collaborative, we consult, we’re not directional, we’re not one way. We work with the regions, we work with government. So it’s really a two-way street. This really speaks to what makes us different, what makes us unique.”

In recapping the recent provincial budget from a Chamber perspective, Mr. Litwin said they were pleased to see housing and childcare addressed in the budget as those are “chokepoints” for businesses’ ability to grow and invest. But they were concerned with policies that negatively affect business.

He listed some of the BC Chamber’s accomplishments over 2017 and into 2018, including launching a new web platform to connect members, advocating to lower the tax rate, agri-food policies, removing the PST on electricity, and having the ear of politicians in Victoria.

“We’ve got a voice, we’ve got their ear. I think they’re finding the way we advocate, the way we show up with good data; we do a hug over here, a spank over there,” said Mr. Litwin. “We’ve been very enouraged by how willing they are to engage with us.”

The CVCC elected a new board of directors. Andrea Tubbs has taken on the role of president, with Peter Smith as past president. Mark Digney remains as treasurer, Laurie Klassen as secretary. Dee Conklin stepped in as first vice-president. Directors include France Andestad, John Newton, Pascal Van Dijk, and Rod Turnbull. Five new directors joined the team: Nicole Morgan, Dave McGrath, Clarissa Amaro, Wendy Rockafellow, and Tara Morgan, who took on the second vice-president position.

Susan Clovechok, executive director of CVCC, presented members with a report on the local chamber from 2017. While membership had dropped slightly over 2017, 23 new members signed up last year and Mrs. Clovechok says they are on track with new members in 2018.

Looking forward, the chamber will be hosting more local familiarity tours this year for front-line tourism staff, planning something “completely different and special” for the 20th annual Business Excellence Awards, work to make the Columbia Valley Transit system more feasible, and continue to promote Valley businesses.

Mrs. Clovechok also tearfully acknowledged the support of Kathy Tyson, visitor information manager, citing how she stepped up to take on the Business Excellence Awards when Mrs. Clovechok was facing a family tragedy.

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