Slave Lake and District Chamber of Commerce Notebook

March 29, 2021 meeting

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

Shop local

In November and December, Slave Lake Veneer and Slave Lake Pulp approached the Chamber about gift vouchers for their staff, said Kimberly Hughes, Chamber executive administrator. Over six to eight weeks, $67,000 of gift vouchers were purchased as part of the program.

After this success, the Chamber is looking at ways to make the shop local program ongoing and “wide open to the community,” she added.

Customer Service

The Chamber and Community Futures plan to launch a pilot customer service training program, said Josh Friesen, Chamber president and Community Futures executive director. This has three parts – training, an ambassador program, and a local secret shopper program.

Many people working in the service industry don’t have the ‘soft’ skills they did in the past, said Friesen. These are necessary to provide “great customer service.”

Community Futures has signed over $32,000 to the Chamber to hire contractors to build the training.

Any businesses interested in the pilot can contact the Chamber.

Boston Pizza will sign up, said Tyler Warman, who owns Boston Pizza and is Mayor of Town of Slave Lake.

Advocacy Committee

“Advocacy has been on our minds now for two years,” said Friesen. “We are looking to create an advocacy committee.”
It will be established at the next board meeting and will advocate on whatever issues impact local businesses.

Strategic Planning

“We have a new board,” said Friesen. “Times have changed” and the board wants to “strategically align” with what members want. The plan is also to engage with nonprofits, municipalities, and other partners to come up with a three to five-year strategic plan.

“Heads up,” Friesen said, to the membership. “We want your input.”

Upcoming Events

The 2021 Business Excellence Awards will be Saturday, October 16, as a kick-off for Small Business week.

In 2020, the Business Excellence Awards happened before COVID-19, said Hughes. Instead of having them in February, the decision was made to move them to October to align with Small Business Week.

What about Riverboat Daze? asked Ali Mouallem.

“We should do something,” said Friesen. The board is going to discuss options at its meeting and bring suggestions to the next membership meeting.

Finances

In January and February 2021, the Chamber made a small profit $3,417.12.

The Chamber finished 2020 “just a little bit negative,” said Friesen. This was less of a loss than expected, considering that the main sources of income in 2020 were cancelled. These are Riverboat Daze and the trade show.

Part of the strategic plan is to answer the question “how are we going to make ourselves sustainable,” said Friesen.

Warman suggested that the Chamber look at ways other than events to make income.

Town of Slave Lake

“2021 has got a lot of question marks,” said Mayor Tyler Warman. However, the new budget plans for pre-COVID levels of service, but will be adjusted based on restrictions.

School divisions

All High Prairie School Division schools took part in Pink Shirt Day at the end of February, said Ali Mouallem, in his position as an HPSD trustee. HPSD has applied for critical workers benefits for about 300 employees. E.G. Wahlstrom Elementary School has ads on the radio. The school division is working on correcting WiFi dead zones within the schools. There are various Alberta School Council Association resolutions that the board will be voting on.

School board elections are in October, Mouallem added. If people want to run, there are positions available with High Prairie School Division.

Florence Gladue, trustee with Living Waters Catholic Schools, said she had pretty much the same report. There are two seats available for Slave Lake with Living Waters.

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