Above: Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce President Simon Boersma talks to Morinville News about the Chamber’s 70th Anniversary. See our video interview with Boersma below.
by Stephen Dafoe
William Lyon Mackenzie King was Prime Minister of Canada in 1947, the same year local business owners got together to start a Chamber of Commerce. Morinville had a population of 735 people then. Today Morinville has more than 13 times the population it did seven decades ago, and a greater variety of businesses, including an increasing number of nationally-recognized brands.
But for Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce President Simon Boersma, the more things change, the more they stay the same with respect to serving the community’s business needs.
“It’s amazing how the community has changed. Looking at some of the [old] pictures we’ve seen on Facebook lately — you see dirt roads. You see lots of machinery dealerships. We’ve seen a change in the community. Smaller business [and] more businesses. But the public stays the same as a whole.
“We still have people that have needs, and the Chamber can meet those needs through the local businesses. People stay the same, and that’s what’s neat about it. We are still a community. We can walk down the street, and we can greet people by name, and that is the wonderful thing about Morinville.”
Boersma said the Chamber currently has 183 members. By contrast, he said the Town had issued 255 business licenses in Town and 270 to out of town businesses.
As such, Boersma wants to put an even greater regional focus on the celebratory year, creating a float that will travel the parade route at the annual summer festival in Morinville before hitching up for a road trip of parades in the region.
Looking to grow the membership
But beyond waving and throwing candy, the Chamber is hoping to capture the benefits of membership.
“Starting from the beginning of this year, what I’ve been looking at is going regional,” Boersma said. “One of our biggest goals is ensuring we cover the full region. That region being right up to Legal, going into Bon Accord, Gibbons, and getting some of that Sturgeon County area along with the town. We know a lot of the businesses within this community are also doing business within Sturgeon County and Vice versa.
“It’s one thing to see an upgrader go up into our community. It’s another thing to see many small businesses arise in the area that we may not be aware of — or they may not be aware of the Chamber that we have right her in our community or our region.”
Familiar events with an anniversary touch
In addition to a focus on regional membership growth, Boersma said Chamber staples remain in the 70th Anniversary Year, albeit with a celebratory spin.
The annual Trade Show will take place in April, and the plan is to split the arena and curling club, with machinery and automotive dealerships in the rink and the other businesses in the curling club.
The Chamber is also still doing it’s Business Directory, currently underway, as is a plan to move the Chamber and Visitor Information Centre from Perras Place to the lower floor of Town Hall adjacent the library.
Small Business Week will see the return of the evening Chamber Gala this year, and the Chamber will be doubling up on it’s China Trip with an orientation event held in March for potential travellers.
For more information visit MorinvilleChamber.com.