By Jennifer Hoegg and Jason Malloy
Businesses from Hants Border to Lawrencetown now have one voice in the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce.
At the Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting Feb. 23, members voted to expand the chamber’s territory to cover the areas previously served by the Western Kings Board of Trade and Central Annapolis Chamber of Commerce. A vote to change the organization’s name also passed.
Under the chamber’s bylaws each motion required a majority vote, which was indicated by a show of hands. Reaction to the decision was enthusiastic and the chamber’s new logo debuted to a round of applause.
“I think (the expansion) is going to be a big success, but it’s going to take a lot of work,” said outgoing president Andy Woolaver.
Jill Easson, Berwick and area economic development co-ordinator, said it was sad to say goodbye to the tradition of the Western Kings Board of Trade, but she expected the new chamber to do well.
“I think this is going to provide a lot of good opportunities for the businesses in the Western end of the county,” she said after the meeting. “It’s really important that we get engagement from the new territory, because the board is excited to work with the new business community and bring value to the new membership.”
Incoming president Scott Roberts said Eastern Kings officials have been speaking with their colleagues to the west for a couple of years about hosting more events together.
“This really, in some ways, is a natural evolution of that,” he said.
The newly formed group represents and advocates on behalf of about 500 businesses.
“An individual business owner might find it very, very difficult to have his or her voice heard on an issue that is important to them,” Roberts said.
“The chamber can amplify that voice.”
Kings North MLA Jim Morton said he has long considered the Annapolis Valley one location and sees the expansion as a positive step for the region.
“I think some of the boundaries that we have are artificial in nature. Sometimes they may create competition where collaboration could be more useful,” he said.
Woolaver noted the revamped chamber has an “adjusted board composition from Western areas,” including the addition of a director from Middleton, John Bartlett, and a director from Greenwood, Lt.-Col. Heber Gillam, to the slate.
It is renewal time for the chamber members. The Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce has had about 370 members the Central Annapolis Chamber of Commerce had about 70 and the while the Western Kings Board of Trade had about 50.
“It’s really important that we get engagement from the new territory, because the board is excited to work with the new business community and bring value to the new membership.” - Jill Easson, Berwick and area economic development co-ordinator
Roberts said the chamber has to continue to show value to its membership.
“Prior to the merger, the Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce, we were concerned every year whether or not we’re going to be able to maintain our membership,” he said. “We want to make sure we are proving value. We have to go out there like any business, we have to earn those memberships every year.”
The new chamber has to file the paperwork with Corporations Canada and staff anticipates it will take between two and three months before the final approval is granted.
2012 Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce
President: Scott Roberts
First vice-president: Ray Savage
Second vice-president: Susan Hayes
Secretary: Cris Shirritt
Past president: Andy Woolaver
Lt.-Col. Heber Gillam