Monday September 01, 2014

Chamber installs latest president

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Don Rae

The Yorkton Chamber of Commerce has to stay focused on issues which are important to both business and community growth.

At least that is the vision of the Chamber’s new president Don Rae.

“I just want to continue to see the community grow and flourish,” he said.

Rae said he ran for a spot on the Chamber back in 2010, because he saw it as a way to give back to Yorkton.

“Being a businessman in town, this in my hometown now. The community has been good to me. … The community really embraced us … Any community I’ve been in I want to give back to it. This is one way I can,” he said.

Rae said he sees a major part of his role as president is to make sure businesses see value in membership.

“I think it’s getting out there and working hard for our members,” he said.

That hard work includes lobbying both the city and the provincial government because the decisions both levels of government make “do affect our growth and what happens in the city.”

Of course at the Board level there will be members of all political parties, but Rae said he believes they hold the needs of businesses above political lines.

“Most people on the Chamber set their political loyalties aside, which is what we should do, as we work for what’s best for members and the community as a whole,” he said.

In terms of local politics, Rae said he believes the current Chamber and the current City Council can work together on common issues.

“I’m very comfortable with Mayor (Bob) Maloney,” he said, adding he knows the others on Council too, and believes they can all be talked to reasonably on issues. That may not always mean reaching a consensus, but the ability to discuss issues is there.

Rae also thinks it’s important to keep the momentum of growth the city has experienced in recent years going. He said every time a new business opens in the city it spurs further growth.

“More, or bigger stores, they attract interest. They attract people from outside the city to spend money here,” he said.

That said Rae admits the recent growth has been more than he had anticipated.

“I think I am a little bit (surprised),” he said.

So why does the new Chamber head think the growth has occurred?

“It’s kind of a mind set all over the province,” he said.

That mind set has been more business oriented, and has created a new generation of people launching business.

“Young entrepreneurs coming back (to the province) excites me,” offered Rae.

Rae said the Chamber’s current Board reflects youth in business.

“It’s great to see young entrepreneurs and business people come on board,” he said. “I look forward to their ideas and energy.”

And where does Rae think the Chamber’s combined energies need to be focused?

“Housing is a critical thing,” he said.

While some people might question how housing is a business issue, but he said people looking to relocate, or start a new business in the city have to see there is affordable housing for staff.

Even among established businesses, housing is something that is important to staff, added Rae.

Rae looks at the new hospital proposed for the city in the same way.

“Helping promote and lobby for a new hospital is going to be critical,” he said.

Rae said when a business looks to locate in the city, schools, recreational facilities and health care are all critical factors because those are the things staff look for.

When it comes to education Rae said the Parkland College Trades and Technology Centre to be built this year is a big part of the picture.

“I think totally they made the right decision,” he said.

“Number one it’s going to bring a lot of talent into the community,” adding hopefully a lot of the graduates can be retained by local businesses.

Another issue Rae is interested in is air service to the city.

“I want to bring some ideas forward to enhance the airport,” he said. “I think that would be a plus for us.”

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