Empowering B.C. businesses

125 Chambers of Commerce to showcase their hard work on behalf of businesses across the province.

This op-ed by the BC Chamber of Commerce was submitted to The Echo for publication by the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, February 15th marked the beginning of Chamber of Commerce Week, an opportunity for B.C.’s more than 125 Chambers of Commerce to showcase their hard work on behalf of businesses across the province.

This year, Chambers are celebrating the theme of “Empowering B.C. Businesses” — a theme that highlights how Chambers strive to empower and grow each business in their community.

Every day, Chambers actively strengthen local businesses through networking events, mentorship opportunities, professional development activities and other unique programming. Whether hosting events and business awards, supporting young entrepreneurs through mentorship programs, providing community-tailored support such as hospitality training in tourism communities, or organizing unique travel experiences for companies interested in learning more about different international markets, Chambers are sharply focused on empowering each and every member business to succeed.

Simultaneously, the Chamber network — B.C.’s largest business organization — is advocating for policy changes to further drive local businesses’ success.

Right now, for example, B.C.’s Chambers are leading efforts to advocate that the provincial government maintain a low tax rate for credit unions, which provide a key source of local business financing for communities right across B.C. This is significant because, for 44 communities in B.C., there are no alternative lenders. Keeping that credit union tax rate low is critical to seeing sufficient dollars flow into community businesses, both to launch start-ups and to enable established businesses to secure growth financing.

Chambers are also leading efforts to establish permanent inter-municipal business licences. These licences provide business owners with the geographic flexibility that many need, particularly in areas such as the construction trades. Right now, inter-municipal business licenses are moving from a pilot project to a permanent fixture in four Lower Mainland communities; the Chamber network hopes to further build on this success, with a vision of one day having a single cross-B.C. business licence.

These are just two positive changes that the Chamber network is leading for B.C. businesses. Among many areas of impact, B.C.’s Chambers have been a leading voice:

• encouraging balanced budgets at all levels of government;

• calling for a made-in-B.C. value-added tax to support businesses in investing in their own growth;

• calling for solutions to B.C.’s skills gap; and

• encouraging municipalities to actively support local economic development.

All of these policy pushes, together with Chambers’ local efforts, empower B.C.’s businesses and drive British Columbians’ success.

So as B.C. celebrates Chamber Week, don’t miss the opportunity to swing by your local Chamber, sign up for some Chamber events, and celebrate the many ways that B.C.’s Chambers empower local businesses and strengthen our communities.

Contact the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce by calling 250-342-2844 or visiting www.cvchamber.ca.

Contact the Radium Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce by calling  250-347-9331 or visiting www.radiumhotsprings.com/chamber-of-commerce.