MORRISBURG – Following an annual general meeting that showed great results for last year, the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to an even better year this year.
“Our membership has grown,” outgoing board president Cindy Ault Peters said. “Going forward, the new board will have lots of wonderful ideas, I’m sure. But we also have plans in place to continue our current work plus bring to life some ideas that were put on hold during the restrictions. The chamber will continue to support, advocate, and promote our members. Our mission is to help businesses grow and thrive.”
Roughly 20 people attended the recent South Dundas Chamber of Commerce AGM. The in-person event was held April 7 at the Upper Canada Playhouse. Peters made her last speech as board president, reviewing the events of the past two years under the COVID-19 pandemic, and remarking on plans going forward in a post-Covid-restrictions’ world.
“With the loss of major events for the chamber, and the community, our budget was certainly impacted. But we, like all of you, pivoted – and carried on,” Peters said. “We continued to raise awareness of local businesses, promote shopping local, and support our members with resources and tools to get through the challenging times. We continued to advocate with various levels of government and worked with both the Ontario and Canadian Chambers of Commerce to ensure we had the information and funding opportunities to quickly share with our members. We were one of the first chambers to implement the Rapid Test Kit distribution, available to any business throughout Eastern Ontario. That program was a tremendous amount of work to organize and maintain, but it was well-received by many businesses, and played a small part in keeping Covid numbers low in our region.”
The South Dundas Chamber of Commerce’s office manager, Tracy McMillan said the focus for the chamber is its business members. She said the chamber will focus on its mandate of businesses helping businesses.
“Plans are being made to return to in-person networking events, trade shows, and building a partnership with the North Dundas Chamber – with one of the biggest perks being a reduced price for our members to also join their chamber,” Peters said. “We will be revamping our website, increasing our promotion of members on social media, and implementing a member-to-member discount program.”
With the pandemic restrictions lifted, the Chamber is already planning its first back-to-in-person trade show event at the end of this month. The Spring Trade Show is set for April 29 and 30 at the Morrisburg Arena. At the time of writing, there were roughly 30 participants signed on to participate, McMillan said, adding that the plan is to “keep it simple.”
“I look forward to passing on the reins to a new, amazing team of directors, and seeing continued growth and opportunity for our members,” Peters said.
The new board of directors includes Loralee Carruthers, Scott Hodgson, Barry Keicks, Kathy Moger, Randy North, Brad Parks, and Rhonda Van Beilen as directors. It also includes the following executive committee members: Jim Cooper (president), Anita Milne (vice president), Loretta Thomas (secretary), and Kaitlyn Geurkink (treasurer) with Peters acting as past president.
“We want to grow. We want to move. And I think what’s going to be very important is everybody is going to have the chance to use their voice and put forward ideas of what the chamber can do,” Cooper said, noting that he’s already met with potential new members.
McMillan said the chamber exceeded its membership goals in 2021, going from 106 members to 120. She said the plan is to continue adding to the number and to continue exceeding the previous year’s membership goals.
“The theme that I have put forward is a fresh start,” Cooper said, noting that he’ll be meeting with the new executive for the first time this week.
Cooper said he has many ideas and he’s looking forward to working with his board colleagues, as well as the community’s businesses. With the focus being South Dundas business, Cooper said he’s already begun visiting business owners in the municipality to find out what they like or don’t like about the chamber, as well as to get their ideas for moving forward. He said he intends to eventually meet with all chamber business owners in due time.
“We need a fresh start. We’re going to start over on everything,” he said. “It’s going to be different than where it was before. There will be some things that we will continue to do that we’ve always done in the past, but there are going to be new ways of doing it, and that’s a big part for me. I want to visit every single member of the Chamber of Commerce and do a one-on-one with them.”
To learn more about the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce, visit the website (southdundaschamber.ca) or follow via Facebook and Instagram. McMillan can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (613-543-3982). Her office hours are from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.