by Stephen Dafoe
The Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has decided to skip the annual spring trade show from its roster of events this year due to a lack of attendance last year.
Chamber President Shaun Thompson said the plan is to go to an every other year format and take this year to rethink and brain-storm.
“We will not be doing a trade show this year as attendance for the trade-show has been in the decline,” Thompson said. “We will be doing it every second year, and this will give us time to come up with some great ideas to revitalize our trade show.”
The Chamber hosted their 15th Annual Trade Show last spring during the organization’s 70th anniversary. It was the second year in a row that the business organization reduced to a two-day show from the standard three.
But attendance at the 2017 show was two-thirds that of the previous year, which had seen – according to the Chamber at that time – record crowds due to being the first year with no admission charge.
Rethinking their model for a trade show is something the Board believes will reinvigorate the formerly annual event.
“We want to make sure we have a great turn out to showcase any business that is apart of it,” Thompson said. “We have a great board, and I am very excited to see what our next trade show looks like.”
Chamber Manager Dianne Mineault said the trade show had been one of the Chamber’s fundraisers and that one of the issues was a lack of volunteers and hours available to prep for the show.
“The biggest difficulty was in having someone that was dedicated to go out and sell the booths,” Mineault said. “The other part was the actual volunteers for set up. The biggest thing was we didn’t sell enough booths. It [the show] wasn’t exciting, so people didn’t come.”
The departure of the Trade Show this year and on an every other year basis will leave the organization with the need to find other funding sources on off years, including 2018.
“This year we need to try and recoup some of the money that we are going to be losing, and we’re doing that by having many more educational sessions for our members,” Mineault said, noting the sessions would be open to everyone in Morinville and Sturgeon County. “We are hoping to get more sponsorships – sponsorships for our luncheons and sponsorships for the golf tournament.”
The Chamber is also doing its annual business directory as a fundraiser again this year, as well as two Chamber trips to China and one to Ireland. The latter will be a partnership with two other Chambers, Leduc and St. Albert Chambers.
“We’re trying to have a trip to Ireland. It’s been a little slow,” Mineault said. “The deadline is the end of February. We’re not getting a lot of participation.”
Mineault said that fundraising projects are necessary because without that additional funding, Chamber memberships for businesses would have to be double what they are now.