Long time Ponoka Chamber member Theresa Turner is flanked by new president Barry Grant (left) and past president Andrew Middleton after presenting her with a bouquet for being with the chamber for 30 years.

New Ponoka chamber president to focus on membership

Plus, over $2 million spent during Passport to Christmas

It isn’t a change in direction, more like a shift in where the spotlight will be placed for the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce.

Barry Grant, who was acclaimed as president at the chamber’s AGM Jan. 16, talked about concentrating on pinpointing the needs of members.

“We can’t do the same old thing and just go through the motions,” he said in his address at the Legion.

“I want us to reach to the current membership and ask what things we can do to help them improve and our effectiveness. Whether that is doing more marketing, bringing more speakers, more training sessions using our own local members as experts.”

Some of that outreach to members will come through social media and surveys, though Grant admitted there have already been some good ideas brought forward that a small chamber like Ponoka simply can’t do. However, he added there are a lot of businesses out there that need to be given reasons to join.

Grant is looking at a long-term goal of increasing membership from the present figure of around 160 to the 200 mark and it will all be about building relationships and working together.

He also updated the membership on the organization’s financial picture, noting there was a $170 profit made in 2017 on close to $51,000 in revenue while the 2018 budget is also designed to break-even with revenue set to rise by just $1,350.

“This is a budget that is meant to meet the needs of the membership. And, while year to year revenue was down in 2017, so were expenses,” Grant said.

He also talked about the looming trade fair, set for Apr. 27 and 28, that will have a Harry Potter theme this year.

“It will be about the wizardry of business and that there is magic everywhere,” Grant said, adding booth sales are moving ahead and one of the big draws for kids will be the game of Quidditch that will be put on by an Alberta club.

Along with Grant, the rest of the executive was acclaimed with Mike Ro as vice-president, Pam Baron as treasurer and seven directors being Susan Bussiere, Judy Dick, Melodie Helm, Inger Laing, Dan Lea, Gord Lodge and Jimmy Palliotto. There are a few openings available for those interested in getting involved. Contact Grant at the chamber if interested.

Over $2 million spent during Passport to Christmas

While going over the previous year, past president Andrew Middleton spoke on the continued success of the chamber’s Passport to Christmas promotion.

“This year was a great success with 49 participating businesses that took in just over $2.6 million in sales,” he said.

Of those sales, $2.33 million were from 7,728 in-town passports, where the total number of passports was 8,682.

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