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Ponoka Chamber sees increase in earnings

There were some changes to the executive lineup of the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce this year.

There were some changes to the executive lineup of the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce this year.

The group held its annual general meeting Jan. 21 at the Kinsmen Community Centre and two events over the year stand out for the chamber; the Trade Fair and the Business Awards Gala.

The fair earned $45,385, with expenses of $31,544 and the awards night earned $19,539, with expenses of $11,040. While the earnings of those two events increased, the chamber also had other expenses; this brought its total net income of 2013 at $-93.94.

Cash assets are sitting well however, with $24,890 in the chequing account and $36,860 in a GIC savings account. Executive manager Les Jaster said the GIC fund is there as a reserve for emergencies.

“We just keep investing interest back into the GIC,” explained Jaster. “That is a rainy day fund.”

“It was actually a real good year for us,” he added.

Two new executives have joined the executive to help co-ordinate the affairs of the chamber, Cindy Gabert and Justin Graham are both new to the position. The chamber executive is comprised of chamber president Jim Hamilton, in his second year, Inger Laing as vice-president and Pam Baron as treasurer. There are six other directors who complement the executive: Judy Dick, Julie Evans, Melodie Helm, Dan Lea, Andrew Middleton and Theresa Turner.

Hamilton said he wanted to hear from chamber members. “Tell us, your board of the chamber, what we’re not doing and what you would like us to do.”

Despite no comments from members, Hamilton feels it was important to give people an opportunity to speak up, but he also feels the board is operating well.

Wetaskiwin MP Blain Calkins also attended the meeting.

Chamber briefs

The chamber received a request from one member to host a survey on the Business Hours Bylaw that restricts the hours liquor can be sold at stores and off-sales establishments. Hamilton said one business has closed since the bylaw was passed last year and town councillors will be assessing the bylaw in a Feb. 11 meeting.

He said the chamber hosted a Monkey Survey last year but the results were almost inconclusive. “It was slightly in favour of not having the bylaw…But it was virtually a 50/50 vote.”

Results from the new survey will be passed on to council.

Chamber bylaws to be reviewed

The last time the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce reviewed its bylaws was many years ago.

“Our bylaws basically came over sometime in the Arc and basically have never been looked at since then,” joked Hamilton.

He and Jaster have started the process of reviewing the chamber’s rules but, “It’s a huge undertaking. Even to change the bylaws, we have nothing in there to change the bylaws.”

The Board Trade Act will be used to assist with changing the bylaws and Hamilton asked members to provide their feedback on some of those rules. Jaster, Hamilton, past-president Greg Braat and director Dan Lea have formed a committee to review them.

Acknowledging business award winners

Past winners of the Chamber Business Awards will soon have their names recognized for posterity. The chamber will have plaques made up for the different categories such as the Small and Large Business Awards. Plaques will have winners’ names engraved on plates on these plaques, explained Hamilton.

Passport to Christmas popular with Ponokans

The chamber’s Passport to Christmas program, which promotes shopping in Ponoka, saw an increase of people using local businesses.

There were 6,189 passports handed in for 2013, up 433 from 2012, explained Hamilton. “That relates back to $1.8 million being spent in Ponoka that people used the passports for.”

Plans for the trade fair

Last year the farmer’s market was open in the small rink of the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex, alongside the chamber’s trade fair. This year the market will not part of the fair. Hamilton said the chamber will offer tables at a low rate, to entice vendors similar to those found at the farmer’s market.

The 2014 trade fair is planned for April 25 to 26.