Many reasons to join the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce

We salute small business in the Cowichan Lake area!

We salute small business in the Cowichan Lake area!

Their commitment and hard work have made small business the main driver of job creation, and the real power of our local economy.

As we celebrate Small Business Week we should reflect on the role business plays in our communities, as for a community to grow we need to have a variety of businesses to meet the consumer’s needs. Every dollar that is spent locally helps to ensure that we keep the businesses that already exist, and allows others to see opportunities to start new businesses thus providing competition and more variety to the consumer. The Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce is proud to support and promote our members and their businesses.

When you shop local, you support local business thus lending to their success and enhancing the economy for all. Shopping locally benefits everyone and just makes sense.

There are sure to be those that do not realize the importance of their local Chamber of Commerce. Many are probably not aware that Chambers of Commerce across the country are registered as Boards of Trade through Industry Canada. The Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce plays a vital role in the communities of Cowichan Lake and the business owners need to support their Chamber so that we can continue to support them.

The Chamber Board of Directors continues to actively promote our area’s businesses and is to be congratulated for its dedication to our members in the communities. The challenges of the economic downturn has forced some our members to change their business practices requiring more innovation in  networking with Social Media which helped to expand their business and increase their visibility, they have taken advantage of the promotional advertising opportunities available at the Chamber that is for members only. Whereas some of our members have decided to relocate, share space, or down-size, and some have closed their doors during the slower seasons to cut down on cost, and for some it has been permanent.

Our membership remains fairly consistent at approximately 130 and the board recognizes that our members need advocacy while at the same time do all they can to keep the membership fees as low as possible. Through fund-raising events we leverage every dollar we receive through membership by approximately a factor of nine.

It is becoming harder and harder to maintain this level of fund-raising and to do so we need businesses to come forward and volunteer to assist in organizing some of the activities. Membership renewals will be sent out in the coming weeks. Members will notice that there is a change in the category listings and a slight increase in the 2012 membership fee structure. Even though there will be an increase in membership we still have the lowest cost among the Chambers throughout the Cowichan Valley, on Vancouver Island and perhaps the province.

In order to keep our cost as low as possible and for all of us to prosper we need to stand together as one business community. We want to continue to grow our membership and hope that those businesses in the area that have not joined will reconsider. Our Chamber meets regularly with other Island Chambers and Chambers of the Cowichan Valley to exchange ideas, and identify issues of concern to business and ways of addressing those concerns. As a Chamber of Commerce we represent and advocate for all business whether we are working with the local politicians or taking our concerns to the provincial or federal level of government.

The larger the number of members, the better the leveraging power and stronger voice we will have with government.

Within the Chamber we have various committees; perhaps the three that are the busiest are the Membership, C.L.E.A.N., and Programs & Events Committees.

The Membership Committee is always working and promoting our members and keeping them informed of the current benefits available to them. As well as welcoming new members. Part of the annual membership fee goes directly to BC Chamber of Commerce, and through the BC Chamber comes benefits such as: group insurance, gas savings, business education and training programs, point of sale services to name a few; a complete list of membership benefits can be found at www.bcchamber.org.

Last year we saw a restructuring of the EDC; to the Cowichan Lake Economic Advisory Network or C.L.E.A.N. This committee is made up of some local politicians, Chamber Directors and members from the Cowichan Lake communities. They have met regularly and researched some possible business ventures that could bring growth to the area.  The Chamber’s commitment is to continue to work on and research opportunities that will improve the economics of the lake area businesses and communities.

The Programs & Events Committee plans and organizes the various events that the Chamber hosts throughout the Cowichan Lake area. We also have members that sit on other committees such as Lake Days, Lady of the Lake Society and the Town Decorating Committee to name a few.

Members of the community are always welcome to volunteer to assist us in implementing the various events, to find out more please call the Visitor Centre at 250-749-3244.

The Chamber is involved within the community and its mandate is to continue in this role. The following is a reminder of some of the upcoming events that the Chamber is working on. Our 17th Annual December Madness weekend will be held on December 2 and 3; an exciting event for all members of the family. This is also the start of the Seven Days of Christmas Shopping Passport in Cowichan Lake, where residents of the Cowichan Lake have the opportunity to start or finish their Christmas shopping and with the passport collect stamps from the participating businesses for a chance to win the grand prize, a thank you for shopping local. Watch for more information about this event in future advertisements. On December 10th 2011 we will be holding our Annual Small Business Christmas Dinner & Auction, over the years this event has become very popular and is usually sold. Tickets will go on sale in November, don’t be disappointed; purchase your tickets as soon as they become available.

Through projects we have managed to help promote our businesses locally. The Visitor Centre is the focal point for those who visit our communities and it is at the Centre that visitors can find information about the area attractions, trails, accommodations and other business services, as well as re-location information; thus far 2011 has seen more than 17,000 visitors come through our doors. The Visitor Centre also has computers where anyone can search the internet or do word processing. The capability is there for printing, photocopying, businesses services such as business cards, rack cards, typing, data entry to name a few and a 10 per cent discount is offered to the Members of the Chamber. Through funding assistance from the Town, Area F and Area I Directors we are able to keep the Visitor Centre open year round. With the completion of the Mesachie Lake Kiosk, the Cowichan Lake Area Postcards and the Promotional TV Screen the opportunity to promote our member businesses has increased. Contact the Visitor Centre at 250-749-3244 for information on the advertising spaces that are available. We are currently working with groups from Sooke, Port Renfrew, Duncan, South Cowichan, and Lake Cowichan on creating a map and a promotional video of the newly developed Pacific Marine Circle Route. Promoting of the communities on the PMCR will in turn enhance the tourism and business economy of the Cowichan Lake Area.

On the horizon also is the chamber’s biggest fund-raiser of the year; the 11th Annual Spring Fling Dinner and Auction, April 18, at Centennial  Hall.

Tickets will go up for sale in early March. Space is limited, so please purchase your tickets as soon as they become available.

There is so much happening in our community and many great people making sure those events are carefully planned and successful. All are encouraged to continue supporting each other, working together and making Cowichan Lake a destination second to none.

Be assured the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce is doing its very best in supporting all of its member organizations and businesses. Success can be yours if you reach for it.

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