Businesses in the Glaslyn area now have a greater voice with the formation of the new Glaslyn and District Chamber of Commerce.
The new organization is in the middle of its first year of operation, having incorporated officially on Jan. 1, 2012.
It’s a first for the area and recognized by the Saskatchewan Chamber for being the first new Chamber of Commerce to be established in the province in 10 years.
According to the Chamber’s board chair, Gerry Stroshein, the establishment of the organization was brought about due to the efforts of local businesses in the area.
“A group of businesspeople of like minds got together and said ‘we need to form a Chamber,’” he said.
Stroshein said it was prompted by a general desire by the business community there to be more organized and more involved in the activities there.
“There were a few things that were going on that probably the business community should have been a part of and should have been involved in,” said Stroshein. He said having a Chamber in place would provide for that.
“My experience is the Chamber is the best organization to be the voice of business, so we believe there are some opportunities for growth in our community, new business opportunities, attracting new businesses, helping retain existing businesses.”
The organization spent last year getting organized and doing community consultation before officially launching this year.
He said a group of about six people got together and put down a business growth plan for the community, and a public meeting was held in August of last year to roll out the idea for a new Chamber.
That got unanimous support and encouragement to proceed.
Membership forms and fees were set out and just after opening Jan. 1 the organization followed up with further meetings with businesses and groups.
Already the Glaslyn Chamber has 24 member businesses, said Stroshein, meeting their target for the first year.
There has been interest expressed by a few more, he said, though things have slowed down lately due to the summer season.
One thing the Chamber wants to do is start promoting the businesses both in Glaslyn and in the region, including rural businesses. Stroshein said they are looking for anyone who is a legal entity, including farm owner-operated businesses.
There are benefits for those smaller entities that join, as the Chamber has a group insurance plan that Stroshein describes as excellent for businesses under 10 employees.
A number of issues businesses face in the area are unique to the Glaslyn Chamber. One challenge is how to attract the people who come through the community on the two highways that intersect there.
Not only is Glaslyn located on Highway 4 between the Battlefords and Meadow Lake, but also intersects Highway 3 from Turtleford all the way to Prince Albert.
“What we need to do is set up ways to encourage the traffic to stop and do business in our community,” said Stroshein. The Chamber is already working with local businesses to encourage more local shopping and design campaigns to raise the profile of the businesses.
The Chamber is still very much in its early stages of operation. It does not have an employed staff, and is operating out of Stroshein’s own office inside the village office in Glaslyn. They are operating with a six-member board.
Already the organization is looking towards the next few months of growth, as they plan to hold their first election for board positions, to replace the interim board.
This fall, said Stroshein, a budget will be developed and some fundraising planned to help establish the organization. Stroshein also says the Chamber plans to keep fees at a reasonable rate so more businesses are encouraged to join.
The organization is also planning to bring in speakers, having already brought in someone to do a presentation to the business community on the Chamber’s group insurance plan, and there will probably be more.
Another event the Chamber hosted was their Summer Solstice Sidewalk and Street Fair in Glaslyn June 21, with 21 businesses set up on the Main Street and over 200 people attending.
Stroshein says the organization plans to work closely with the village and the council on a community plan to encourage development and improve the commercial and industrial areas, and attract new businesses to the community. He says that process will continue over the next few years.
This all leads up to their first annual general meeting in January of 2013, followed by a chairman’s ball, to celebrate the first anniversary for the new Glaslyn and District Chamber of Commerce and promote it in the community.
“We’re really excited about the potential of our community,” said Stroshein. “We really want to promote our assets and really want to work with our municipal and provincial counterparts to make Glaslyn a growth community.”
A high point, so far, was the recognition of the establishment of the Glaslyn Chamber at the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce convention in May in Saskatoon, which Stroshein attended.
“It was quite an opportunity to get introduced to the crowd and we had a lot of people come up afterwards congratulating us,” said Stroshein.
Businesses in the Glaslyn area seeking more information about possibly joining the new Chamber are encouraged to contact Stroshein at 342-4305.