September 28, 2020 meeting
There were 37 people at the the first chamber meeting since February. This may or may not be a record, but it is the most people since executive director Kimberly Hughes joined the chamber in 2017.
Slave Lake 2020 Labour Solutions
“Last year, we set out to do a survey of quite a few businesses in the area,” said Josh Friesen, executive director of Community Futures Slave Lake. The Labour Solution Series is follow-up to the needs brought forward in the survey. These educational sessions were to be in the spring, but were postponed until the fall. The bulk of these are online. (They were covered in Town of Slave Lake and the M.D. of Lesser Slave River notebooks in previous Leaders).
Non-profit strategy meetings will re-start
In January, the chamber started a non-profit strategy group, said Hughes. “That had been going very well until COVID.” It will be starting up again in the next while.
Chamber president Frankie Giroux said one of the requests from businesses in the survey was that nonprofit groups schedule their events on different weekends or work together to plan events. This is because in a normal year there will sometimes be four or five events on the same weekend This makes it difficult for businesses to sponsor events and participate.
Small Business Week (Oct. 18 to 24): “We are on the fence about hosting a meet and greet,” said Friesen. However, there are online events. One is ‘Reading Financial Statements’ which is led by Giroux, who is an accountant with Nash Giroux.
The chamber is looking for a local expert to lead a session on marketing.
Moonlight Madness: “We are still trying to figure out what that looks like,” says Giroux. “We’re looking for creative ideas.”
The Santa Claus parade will likely not be happening this year, she continued, because encouraging large groups to gather, even outside, is still not allowed because of COVID-19.
Alberta Labour and Immigration: money to disperse
Matthew Holden is a workforce consultant with Alberta Labour and Immigration.
The Prime Minister’s throne speech announced some money which will be dispersed by Alberta Labour and Immigration, he said. “I’d love to be able to spend it in the area.”
Alberta Labour and Immigration also has funding to pay for a portion of employee training. Another program works with a minimum of three partners for labour market studies, and other projects with the goal of retaining and ‘up-scaling’ the workforce.
“Due to the lack of events our profits have taken a big hit,” said treasurer Rebecca King. By the end of the year, the chamber will be running a slight deficit and have to use reserves.
(The chamber usually has Riverboat Daze and a trade show, which bring in a large portion of its income. These were cancelled because of COVID-19.)
Leah Jones, the Town of Slave Lake economic development officer, did a presentation on that topic. Town CAO David Kim was scheduled to give the talk, but he wasn’t able to make it.
“There’s a lot of excitement in the north (development-wise) and we want to be a part of it,” said Jones. “I’m not coming with the answers. I need community and business to help drive what the opportunities are.”
“This (economic development) is not a project,” she says. “This is about an ongoing effort. It’s a cycle.” Economic development is community-building, which goes into research, data mining and strategic industry development, Jones explained. This then goes into government relationships and direct marketing. The cycle then returns to community-building and starts over again.
The next Chamber meeting is October 26, 2020 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Slave Lake Inn and Conference Centre. It will be upstairs in the ballroom.