By Collin Gallant
Southern Alberta Newspapers
A new regional Chamber of Commerce may better connect businesses operating in Brooks and Medicine Hat, officials with the business lobby said Dec. 6 after groups in the two cities moved to join.
A Southeast Alberta Chamber of Commerce would be the eventual result, and could eliminate some legwork for companies operating in both population centres, though the operating plan for representing businesses in both cities is now being determined, say officials.
“There have been conversations about how we could assist and different options of what that looks like, and this is where we’ve landed,” said Lisa Dressler, executive director of the Medicine Hat and District Chamber of Commerce.
“We’ll be working with some key leaders in that community … to talk about what the transition will look like and making sure that we have a good understanding of their expectations.”
Earlier this month local chamber members gave authority to the incoming board to apply for a larger area of interest as defined in their provincial registration.
That would expand the area of operation from Medicine Hat, Cypress County and Redcliff business members to also include those in Newell County and the City of Brooks.
The combination comes after discussions between the two groups, and a successful motion at the Brooks Chamber in mid-November to dissolve.
Since the legislation governing chambers of commerce doesn’t allow mergers or amalgamations, one must cease operations and another apply to expand its operating region.
The effect is the same however, said Dressler, and now the local office will hold meetings with interested leaders in Brooks.
“Our intention is to hire someone in Brooks as soon as possible,” said Dressler. “(It would be) someone who lives in Brooks to work with businesses there and find out what they’d like to see in terms of events, whether there is still interest in having a trade show, and getting a better understanding of their needs.”
The local chamber estimates between 150 and 175 former members of the Brooks Chamber would join the expanded southeast organization.
However, the net change in membership is difficult to determine as some firms are members of both Medicine Hat and Brooks chambers, but would require only one membership going forward.
“This could simplify the process for those members,” said Dressler. “We want to ensure continuity for our membership here. The biggest thing (existing) members will see is the opportunity to gain a little more exposure in the Brooks region, and vice versa. It does expand that lens of what’s available, and the ability to expand in the Brooks region with the same (chamber) services that our membership is used to.”
The Medicine Hat and District Chamber had 800 members this fall, and recently began creating more localized working committees to address issues and co-ordinate in specific ares, such as Redcliff and downtown Medicine Hat.