Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce was recognized Thursday, Oct. 25 for being a “powerful voice for business in the community” by B.C. Chamber chair Maureen Kirkbride.
“Although you are a relatively small chamber, the quality and consistency of your policy and advocacy work is second to none in the province. Particularly, your efforts in support of the Prosperity Mine have set a bench mark for your peers across the chamber net work,” Kirkbride said while speaking at the chamber’s regular monthly meeting held at Signal Point.
The Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce received honourable mention in the Chamber of the Year category at the BC Chamber of Commerce annual meeting earlier this year. Kirkbride told members Thursday she was adding her own thanks and congratulations for a “very well deserved” reward. Praising the qualities of executive director Claudia Blair, and her commitment to the chamber movement, Kirkbride acknowledged Blair’s willingness to share knowledge. Kirkbride also talked about the role chambers play to make communities better places to live and do business.
While local chambers can advocate for business at the local level, the BC Chamber of Commerce advocates for businesses on a provincial level, and at a national level through the Canadian Chamber, she said.
“It’s difficult for the provincial government to hear small business or even a single community, but there’s tremendous power that comes from being part of an organization that speaks on behalf of 32,000 businesses.”
And government is listening, Kirkbride added, and suggested chamber recommendations have resulted in a “plethora” of government policy changes.
“In response to a request by the BC Chamber this fall, the provincial government announced this Monday it would work with the chamber and its members in developing a small business accord, to hear suggestions and reduce red tape to make B.C. the most business-friendly jurisdiction in the country.”
Earlier this year the BC Chamber told government, small business needed more access to training, and at the BC Chamber’s AGM in Penticton, Premier Christy Clark announced the creation of a $3.1 million micro business training program aimed at delivering skills training to owners of businesses with fewer than five employees.
“Acting on a concept prepared by the BC Chamber in 2010, the provincial government last year announced the establishment of the Municipal Auditor General’s office. Its mandate is to ensure local governments are accountable and able to provide services in a competitive and cost effective way,” Kirkbride said.
The BC Chamber has also pushed for the government’s need to return to balanced budgets, and rework the approval process for large projects to streamlining the immigration process, she added.
“No other organization can point to a similar range of concrete changes to such a broad range of issues.”
Many of the suggestions the BC Chamber puts forth, have in fact, come due to the action of local chambers. When asked if the BC Chamber’s approach will change if there’s a change in government after May’s election, Kirkbride said it won’t.
“BC Chamber is an apolitical policy based organization. We will continue to work with all elected parties and government officials to bring forth challenges that our members tell us are important.”
As communities look to diversify their economies, the BC Chamber can play a role in shaping public debate on the province’s future. Early in October, the BC Chamber partnered with the BC Business Council to launch the BC Agenda for Shared Prosperity, an initiative designed to look at the economic and social development issues affecting the prosperity of the province.
“It is driven in large measure by what can only be described as a troubled state of public discourse on the economy. It will come as no surprise to anyone in this room when I say that our political culture in B.C. is polarized and has been polarized for decades. Ideological warfare has silenced the civil conversations we need to have about the critical questions facing our economy.”