Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce president Jason Ryll said the chamber is focusing its board and staff efforts on the things it can have an impact on.
“Our members will come first, that’s our priority,” Ryll told members at the monthly luncheon April 25.
“While the flash appeal of some larger projects around the province and larger developments might have more impact on the number of jobs created, especially north like the Port of Prince Rupert’s LNG developments, refineries in Kitimat, even Enbridge, we are focusing more on local issues and the business community here.”
One of the goals in the chamber’s strategic planning is to improve working relations and supporting the business advancements of First Nations in the region.
“We’re proud of our First Nations, and I for one would like to continue to encourage their business ideas and financial successes,” Ryll said, adding the chamber is doing that in smaller steps, such as tourism counsellor training, in partnership with the Cariboo Chilcotin Aboriginal Training Employment Centre.
The chamber has also had taxation discussions with Mayor Kerry Cook and city staff, Ryll said.
“I know it’s the number one issue, especially when it comes to the business community. We can always hope for lower taxes. We met about the concerns our members have brought to us.”
Ryll said the chamber would like to help the city in every way possible achieve its goal to become the “most business-friendly city” in the province.
“I believe if the city works more closely with us and hears what we have to say as the voice of business, it will help both of our organizations get where we need to be.”
He also told members the chamber will be soliciting a response from the business community in the near future, asking members to define “business friendly.”
“We want to know your opinion, what does it mean to you? We’ll carry that message forward.”
It may not happen overnight, or even during Ryll’s term as president, but it is a goal.
Another goal of the strategic plan is helping with the role of economic development in Williams Lake.
“Instead of picking it apart or making it an easy target, we see it as a community function that could use some support so through conversations with the mayor and staff, we’ve offered that support.”
Other supports have included training in succession planning, PST transitioning, and World Host.
The chamber runs the Visitor’s Information Centre and recently renewed its five-year agreement with Tourism B.C. to operate the centre.
“We have an agreement in place with the city to operate the Visitor’s Information Centre until we revisit our terms of the contract next year.”
As of May, the VIC will be open seven days a week for the tourism season, and will be offering more services.
“A couple of examples are the availability to obtain a fishing license at the centre, which has helped to better serve customers coming through the door.”
They also have a rent-a-rod program for visitors wanting to try fishing in one of the local lakes.
“It’s getting people engaged and offering services through the centre that are going to keep people here a little bit longer,” Ryll said.