A news release on January 26 could be the makings of the first steps towards a long-considered move by the Radium Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce (RHSCC) and the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce (CVCC).
Both chambers have agreed to investigate amalgamation of the two chambers, and will be working diligently on this process over the next several months.
Susan Smith and Kent Kebe have been directed by their respective boards to research the business viability of an amalgamation by drafting a business plan.
“It is something that the chambers have been talking about for many years,” said Kent Kebe, manager of the RHSCC. “All the pieces of the puzzle can be put into place now. But we still have hurdles to overcome.”
At a CVCC luncheon on January 5, Electoral Area G Director Gerry Wilkie brought up the topic of the two chambers and their agendas.
He discussed the practicality of having two facilities 20 minutes from each other with the same or similar mandates.
“It’s interesting to hear the chambers are looking at amalgamation,” said Wilkie. “Through the Regional District we are already looking at how we might provide better integration of our services among the three municipalities and several distinct communities in the Upper Columbia. There has always been a good deal of social and economic interaction among these communities all sharing in common the wonderful bio-physical environment in the Upper Columbia.
“I think the chambers will find that integrating their services can be a positive change.”
The preliminary vision for chamber duties is that the Radium organization will be focused primarily on tourism initiatives, including Information Centres and valley-wide events.
The CVCC will be focused primarily on business initiatives, including advocacies, economic development, policy and education.
There are 332 unique members between the two organizations at this time.
However, both chambers believe that the cost of being a member of both facilities has prevented businesses from joining both chambers.
“We are in the process of doing our due diligence – this will only happen if it makes sense for the membership of both organizations – and it will only make sense if the membership will receive greater value for their membership fee,” Smith, executive director of the CVCC, said in regard to new or lowered membership fees post-amalgamation.
“It is our intent that all of our members will benefit from the broader scope of services and coverage that a single organization will bring.”
Rather than reducing staff members, the chambers’ goal is to increase service levels by having staff focus on their area of expertise and strength while they save money on the economies of scale from an infrastructure perspective.
While the amalgamation process is certainly something that will not happen overnight, a possible time-line for the business plan’s finalization is in the fall of this year.