The Burns Lake & District Chamber of Commerce moved to a new location at the beginning of this year and is already moving full steam ahead with its plan for the community and its members for the year.
Chamber manager Randi Amendt told Lakes District News that since moving to their new location at 132a Francois Lake Drive, the chamber has been working on their plan for 2021/2022.
“The chamber is focusing on being more innovative to better support our businesses. We will be reaching out to our members individually so we can provide them with support catered to their specific needs. We offer many benefits and we want to make sure each of our businesses is aware of what we offer,” she said.
The chamber currently has a total of 136 members of which 16 joined in 2020 alone and there has already been one new member in 2021. This year, the chamber would be focusing on ensuring that its members know the different benefits that they have to offer.
“The members who get the most out of our chamber are those who attend meetings and participate in the activities we host, who use our chamber as a source of support and information,” said Amendt.
One such program from the chamber that has seen growth each year with member participation, is the local gift certificate program.
In 2020, the chamber had sold $31,285 worth of gift certificates by mid-December and by the end of the year, they sold a total of $41,225 gift certificates; almost $10,000 more than 2019.
“The Lakes District Local Gift Certificate Program happens year-round, it began in 2015 and is growing stronger each year. We currently have 22 chamber businesses participating and to date, we have kept $252,534 dollars in our community. Many businesses and locals purchase gift certificates for Christmas bonuses or presents. They are great gifts when you just don’t know what to give someone,” said Amendt.
On Feb. 16, 17 and 18, the chamber will be hosting an open house where the staff and the directors will be at the office to talk to people who stop by.
“By spreading the open house over three days, there will be less traffic at any one time and we can follow Covid protocol. We encourage people to stop by and say hi, check out our new office, see what the chamber has to offer businesses and the community,” said Amendt adding that the chamber will also be hosting its annual general meeting in spring however the date is yet to be decided.
Planning for several other events has already begun. The chamber will be hosting their annual Pitch-In Day (community garbage clean-up) in early May and people can contact the chamber for more info or to sign up. They are also planning a Canada Day celebration of sorts.
“Of course, the activities will depend on where we are with Covid by then. Our breakfast with Santa was such a hit at Christmas that we are hoping to do a Canada Day breakfast this year,” she said.
The chamber will open nominations for the 2021 Business Excellence Awards in August, host the annual Fun, Frost & Family Festival for the third year in a row in November and have also been in talks with the fall fair committee to potentially collaborate with them to combine the trade show with the fall fair.
The chamber will also be hosting the community market this year in July and August.
Last year, the village decided to not renew the Visitor Information Centre operating agreement with the chamber, effective Dec. 31, 2020 as a result of which the chamber had to move to a different location and will no longer be handling the visitor centre for Burns Lake. However, that hasn’t stopped the chamber from staying involved in the community. In fact, the chamber recently hosted the Bunrs LakeAll Candidates Forum for the municipal by-election to keep the community in the know and help make an informed choice when voting.
The chamber directors are also working on finding a permanent place to relocate the office in summer.
“Our ideal space would be big enough for two desks, a generous parking lot, a room big enough to hold six people for small meetings, located on the main street with adequate storage space,” said Amendt.