February 15, 2016, marks the beginning of Chamber of Commerce Week in Kelowna, officially proclaimed by Mayor Colin Basran, joining other communities across BC. Chamber week is an opportunity for Chambers of Commerce throughout British Columbia to showcase their work on behalf of business communities across the province.
This year, Chambers are celebrating the theme of "Empowering B.C. businesses" - a theme that highlights how Chambers strive to empower and grow each business in their community. Every day, Chambers actively strengthen local businesses through networking events, mentorship opportunities, professional development activities and other unique programming. Whether hosting events and business awards, supporting young entrepreneurs through mentorship programs, providing community-tailored support such as hospitality training in tourism communities, or organizing unique travel experiences for companies interested in learning more about different international markets, Chambers are sharply focused on empowering each and every member business to succeed. Simultaneously, the Chamber network - B.C.'s largest business organization - is advocating for policy changes to further drive local businesses' success.
Right now, for example, B.C.'s Chambers are leading efforts to advocate that the provincial government maintain a low tax rate for credit unions, which provide a key source of local business financing for communities right across B.C. This is significant because for 44 communities in B.C., there are no alternative lenders. Keeping that credit union tax rate low is critical to seeing sufficient dollars flow into community businesses, both to launch start-ups and to enable established businesses to secure growth financing. President & CEO of the Canadian Credit Union Association and local panelists will speak more to this at her address at the Ramada on February 26th.
Chambers are also leading efforts to establish permanent inter-municipal business licenses. These licenses provide business owners with the geographic flexibility that many need, particularly in areas such as the construction trades. Right now, inter-municipal business licenses are moving from a pilot project to a permanent fixture in four Lower Mainland communities; the Chamber network hopes to further build on this success, with a vision of one day having a single cross-B.C. business license.
These are just two positive changes that the Chamber network is leading for B.C. businesses. Among many areas of impact, B.C.'s Chambers have been a leading voice: * encouraging balanced budgets at all levels of government; * calling for a made-in-B.C. value-added tax to support businesses in investing in their own growth;
* calling for solutions to B.C.'s skills gap; and
* encouraging municipalities to actively support local economic development. All of these policy pushes, together with Chambers' local efforts, empower B.C.'s businesses and drive British Columbians' success.
So as B.C. celebrates Chamber Week and the many ways that B.C.'s Chambers empower local businesses and strengthen our communities, maybe this is the time to pop in to the Kelowna Chamber and ask us what type of membership is right for your business, or join in on some Chamber Week events, and see what it's all about.