As the Pemberton and District Chamber of Commerce welcomes the new year, it’s also preparing to welcome a few new faces to its board of directors.
Ahead of its annual general meeting, set to take place at Big Sky Golf on Jan. 12, “The chamber is very excited for 2018, as we have some dynamic new board of directors from different sectors in the region that will be sworn in at the AGM,” wrote chamber president Graham Turner in a newsletter.
New directors joining the board include Doug Hartman, senior accountant at Kufuka Fitness and Mountain Glass, into the role of treasurer, as well as Steve McCloskey, chief technology officer at Base Wireless and Blair Kaplan, social media and communications guru at Blair Kaplan Communications Inc.
“It’s quite nice to not have just individuals step up, but the actual businesses that they represent as well,” Turner said.
With the skills of these new additions covering several different areas of expertise, “the only person we don’t really have (on the board) right now is someone from farming and the agriculture side,” Turner said, “but we can always add that later.”
Jacaranda Kruckewitt, CAO at Murphy Construction, will also be stepping into the role of secretary. She’ll be taking over from Shirley Henry, who’s stepping down from the board after 22 years of service with the Pemberton Chamber.
Henry “has such deep roots in the community,” Turner said. “The work she and George, her husband, have done in the community over the past 50 years is just incredible.”
However, Henry will continue to remain involved in the community through her work with Tourism (Pemberton). “I don’t think she’s going too far, she’ll be wanting to help us get our feet on the ground. She did a lot of work,” Turner explained.
An update to the board of directors is just the latest amongst several new initiatives the chamber has on tap for 2018.
After forming an Economic Development Task Force and receiving a grant to fund the first stage of the project in 2017, the chamber is currently working towards the creation of a community data portal.
“We’re just about to get a project manager together at the beginning of January and put out a (request for proposal),” Turner explained. “We’ve got the one $10,000 intake to get started and we put a second grant proposal in as well to continue the data portal, as well as work with our task force a little bit.”
Upon completion, the portal, containing information like the size of the population and how many schools exist in the community, could be a useful tool for several different community stakeholders to reference, Turner said. Whether it’s the municipal government or not-for-profits for grants, or potential investors looking to do their research, “You really need a place to go for data,” he said.
An increase in accessible, available and reliable data could also help the community better understand what, exactly, is its biggest economic drivers. “I think we can assume things, but even the latest census data, where construction is pretty much driving everything around here right now, but then there’s real estate, and we always say that forestry and farming is Pemberton’s number one industry, which I’m sure it is, but without the data it’s (hard to know for sure).”
Along with this numerical data profile, Turner would also like to see the portal include a community profile. “Whether you go on and have the Wellness Almanac feeding into there, and different stories about the community groups in Pemberton — something that really pulls us all together. As an investor, I think people aren’t just looking at the price of dirt these days, they also want to know where the schools are good, is it safe here — to have the safety rating of Pemberton and the crime rate, there’s a lot of amazing things about Pemberton, but how do you show that on a data portal? We’re hoping to have something quite unique.”
In addition to chipping away at the portal, the chamber has another project currently underway to make it possible to pay for a membership online. The chamber team is also continuing to push for improved tourism infrastructure, while 2018 has been designated for the return of the business achievement awards; an opportunity for businesses in the region to be recognized annually for their success.