Why is a chamber of commerce important? What does a chamber of commerce do? These and other chamber of commerce-related questions were the topics of discussion at the Mapleton Youth Action Council (MYAC) meeting held on March 6 at Studio Factor in Drayton.
Members of the Mapleton Chamber of Commerce were invited to the March MYAC meeting to explain the workings of the chamber. Representing the local chamber were treasurer Cathy Burton and vice-president Donna Hirtle.
After naming the chamber’s current elected board of officers, Burton said, “The Mapleton Chamber of Commerce has been dormant for 10 years. With prodding from Mapleton Township, the chamber is active again. At the Nov. 29 annual general meeting, the chamber signed up members at the door.”
Burton added, “The chamber is the voice of business in Mapleton. Business is not only store fronts or retail. It includes the agricultural sector.”
Hirtle explained the chamber is currently in a building stage. It is a member of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
“The chamber networks, encourages membership and hosts events,” Hirtle said.
“We encourage each other to bring more business to Mapleton. The chamber also unifies businesses and brings a voice to the township.”
In doing this, a healthy economy and a stronger community are created, attracting new businesses, new residents and new recreational opportunities to the community, she said.
Meetings of the chamber board are held on the third Wednesday of each month in various locations in the township including members’ homes and places of business.
To date, no meetings have been held that involve the full chamber membership.
Asked why a chamber of commerce is important, Hirtle read an email submission from chamber member Greg Durocher.
“A chamber of commerce is not just important, it is vital. A chamber of commerce is really the only true community advocacy group,” read Hirtle.
“The chamber spans over all different sectors of our community, from the social fabric, entertainment to recreation, as well, all of it is guided by the one element of our community that really provides all of the funding, business,” stated the email.
“The chamber unites the community with the sole mechanism that generates prosperity, business is the tool every community needs to be successful and having an organization that can help business prioritize, help the local government prioritize, we can be a better community, with more focus and better outcomes.”
MYAC members asked how youth, in particular MYAC, can support the chamber.
“Youth (are) vital to the chamber’s success, after all, we are in many cases working on issues, championing causes that will benefit future residents and businesses of Mapleton, and you are our future,” Duroche said in an email, read by Hirtle.
“A strong connection with MYAC might be an advantage for our business members looking for new employees, so we welcome you and encourage you to get involved with the Chamber through your employer and your community.”
An email from chamber member Dale Franklin suggested that instead of the youth heading to an out of town mall for purchases and services, they should consider whether or not it is available through the local business community.
Burton added, “We don’t want Mapleton Township to be a bedroom community or our youth to go to Toronto to get a job. Get a job here and raise your family in a small community. We need your help in getting the youth to stay here.”
Hirtle mentioned that it is important students further their education and she would like to see students come back to the community after graduation. Hirtle also noted that a good work ethic has been instilled in the community’s youth.
Burton noted that the parents of youth in the area have also instilled a service attitude in their children. How you give back to the community is important for potential employers to know when youth are seeking employment in the area, she explained.
The future plans of the chamber include the use of social media, websites and the Community News and Wellington Advertiser to get the chamber’s message out. The hiring of a part-time employee to handle memberships, do paperwork and develop relationships in the community is also in the works.
“We are taking baby steps and slowly growing,” Hirtle said. The chamber currently has 33 members.