Last year was a rough one for the rechristened Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce but the organization is ready to face 2016 head on and employ new strategies for success.
Executive director Judi Best told those who attended the chamber’s March 23 annual general meeting 2015 started with 224 chamber member businesses and peaked at 240. However, seven businesses were lost due to them completely closing their doors.
“It goes without saying 2015 was a tough year for the chamber,” said Best.
As of March 23 the chamber was back at 249 members.
The Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce also saw a decrease of city/county municipal funding of just under $2,000 for 2014 to 2015. Grants and marketing dollars also changed. “Again, I suspect due to the economy,” said Best.
In 2016 the Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce will not be hosting the Wetaskiwin Summer Festival, due to the “significant losses” it saw last year.
Two of the major components, ticket sales and midway riders, were down.
To combat all of the challenges the chamber saw last year the doors closed two days a week, leaving it open for three rather than five days a week. Staff members also took cuts to their hours.
While it has already found its new home the chamber lost its office in the Visitor Information Centre after the City of Wetaskiwin canceled the service agreement for the Visitor Information Centre.
For 2016 the Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce is working with the Alberta Chamber of Commerce to create an updated 2016 to 2018 strategic plan.
Best says the chamber is focusing on educating businesses on the benefits of being a member partner. “We developed affordable member partnerships for events.”
With the economy still struggling 2016 will be another tough year for businesses and residents. The Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce plans to keep businesses moving ahead by remaining an advocate for businesses, promotes new business opportunities and promoting shop local concepts.
Best feels part the the chamber’s new strength will come from its re-branding; hence the name change from the Wetaskiwin and District Chamber of Commerce to the Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce. Along with changing its name the chamber redesigned its logo.
Best explained the re-brand is to keep the Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce moving forward as a leader in the community. She added the chamber’s initial identity had become a liability and was holding the organization back.
In 2015 the chamber of commerce saw a net deficiency of $20,000. In 2015 revenues totalled $265,000, program expenses were $154,000 and operational expenses came in at $131,000. Two years ago in 2014 the Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce had a net deficiency of $28,000. Revenues were at $256,000, program expenses totalled $139,000 and operational expenses came in at $145,000.
Looking at the Wetaskiwin Summer Festival, 2015 had a net deficiency of $30,000 over 2014’s $2,000.
At $66,000, the year 2015 had increased $3,000 in revenue from the year prior but expenses had jumped to $96,000. Expenses in 2014 were $65,000.
From 2014 to 2015 the chamber’s cash assets grew from $11,000 to $16,000. Receivable decreased from $72,000 to $36,000.
Under liabilities, payables and accruals grew from $13,000 to to $15,000 and deferred revenue decreased from $68,000 to $53,000.