Where Things Stand: Strategic planning session ends, time for teamwork
for Smoky River Express
Several voices can be heard extolling the virtues of one voice for the business interests of the Smoky River region, and I am one of them.
The Smoky River Regional Chamber of Commerce held their strategic planning session at the Town of McLennan office Sept. 12, with about a dozen people attending. Among them were Barb Gardecki and Val Viens, president and vice-president of the chamber respectively, as well as Ray Johnson, president of the McLennan Chamber of Commerce.
They all touted the importance of working together.
“I’m very happy that we took this first step,” says Gardecki. “I think it’s long overdue. We heard some good comments and some great ideas. It’s step that’s well worth taking and I want to see us all working together. I think we all have a lot more to offer as one voice, rather than two or three separate voices.”
Cooperation between the communities is imperative, says Viens.
“I would like to see our communities come together, grow together,” says Viens. “If we can get our groups together, we will succeed.”
Johnson welcomes the opportunity to work with the Smoky River Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“I am very excited that we have an opportunity to work together, towards a cohesiveness of developing and enhancing the local business community and presenting this Smoky River region as one economic force.”
Jennifer Moore, the economic development officer for Smoky River Regional Economic Development, was the facilitator.
With Johnson’s assistance, she engaged attendees in the SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – as well as helping to define the vision and mission statements.
But while the strategic planning session has ended, it is only the first step in laying the foundations for the Smoky River Regional Chamber of Commerce. The board of directors will continue to work on it in the weeks and months ahead.
It’s a process I am very happy to see. It’s essential for all businesses in the Smoky River region to work together and speak with one voice and make it “one economic force” as Johnson says.
Yes, businesses compete against each other, locally and regionally.
But their ability to act with a unified voice under an organization like the Smoky River Regional Chamber of Commerce makes them stronger as well.
A chamber of commerce is more than just a membership where an employer and their employees – not to mention the self-employed and home-based businesses - get health, dental and other benefits for joining.
It’s the platform for business owners to express their concerns to each other and to external bodies like the Alberta Chamber of Commerce.
For example, when an issue like deficiencies in transportation infrastructure affects the region, is it not better for all the member businesses to make their case through the chamber, up to the Alberta Chamber of Commerce and then to the Alberta Government?
Of course, the chamber will not be the only organization concerned about such deficiencies. But its voice is critical to draw the attention of elected officials and bureaucrats if it’s going to be resolved.
So, it is my sincere hope that all the businesses within the Smoky River region, as well as the McLennan & District Chamber of Commerce, will come together under the Smoky River Regional Chamber of Commerce and help it to become their voice.