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Ponoka chamber brainstorming ways to increase member engagement

Annual general meeting: financials presented, elections held
The Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce held its annual general meeting Dec. 14. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)

A roundtable discussion was held during the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting (AGM) on Dec. 14, inviting members to pitch ideas on how to increase attendance at meetings.

President Sherry Gummow, re-elected by acclamation, stated responses to a membership survey in the fall indicated members found the meetings times inconvenient and they wanted more relevant speakers.

Although meetings were changed from 1 to 2 p.m. once a month to bi-monthly evening meetings, and a few new speakers were brought in, attendance continued to hover around 20 regularly-attending members, said Gummow.

As a non-profit organization, the chamber needs to hold a minimum of eight meetings per year, plus an AGM.

Suggestions included holding more informal networking evenings, bringing in entertainment rather than speakers, and holding fun activities such as a version of speed dating to get to know other members.

The chamber’s financial statements were presented. While the chamber uses an accountant to do their bookkeeping, an audit was not conducted.

Member Jim Hamilton noted the financials were a bit hard to read as presented.

Gummow responded there were some issues switching the accounting from Quickbooks desktop to Quickbooks online and not all the information transfered well.

“We will work to fine-tune the presentation for future,” said Gummow.

While the revenue from the chamber’s two major events of the year, the trade show and the business awards night, weren’t on par with pre-COVID-19 levels, it was stated the chamber wasn’t in a bad position for their “first year back.”

“The cash in the bank is sitting very comfortable,” said Barry Grant, past president.

After two years off, the trade show didn’t go as well as hoped, said executive manager Heather Bendera.

She added most chambers saw similar reductions at their trade shows, with vendors not having enough staff, supply chain issues, or vendors simply being wary of COVID.

Gummow added with the chamber awards being held in a smaller space this year, some of the usual fundraising for the evening wasn’t possible. The chamber intends to bring back the “horse race” and silent auction for the 2023 event and hold it at the legion.

The chamber also received less government funding in 2022 compared to 2021, when COVID recovery grants and loans were being handed out.

The chamber board has decided to remove the kiosk from the arena, as it’s been more trouble than it’s worth, with its internet connectivity issues, said Gummow.

It was noted the kiosk was implemented through grant funding, so getting rid of it wouldn’t really be a loss, but there is a yearly expense associated with operating it.

The Drumheller chamber and tourism board had some interest in taking over the kiosk.

It was announced that as of January, 2023, the chamber’s membership fee would increase by five per cent. The projected revenue from membership fees for 2023 is $30,000.

Chamber members voted to accept the 2023 budget with a projected profit of $45.

The rest of the chamber positions, elected by acclamation, were as follows:


- Vice president, Diane Rose, and

- Treasurer, Pam Baron.


- Amber Yuzwak;

- Kasey Uebelhardt;

- Eric Uviland;

- Frank Salisbury;

- Lana Johnson and

- Christina Komives.

Emily Jaycox

About the Author: Emily Jaycox

I’m Emily Jaycox, the editor of Ponoka News and the Bashaw Star. I’ve lived in Ponoka since 2015 and have over seven years of experience working as a journalist in central Alberta communities.
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