Chamber holds AGM appoints new board

Above: Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce Past President Shaun Thompson (left) passed the chair to new President Matthew Lee as Executive Director Roberta Pawluk looks puzzled in the background in this playful moment ahead of the Sept. 13 Chamber AGM – Stephen Dafoe Photo

by Stephen Dafoe

The Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce has a new president, vice president and board of directors, with some returning and some completely new faces.

Long-time Chamber President Shaun Thomas, co-owner of Sobeys Morinville, steps into the past president role. Servus Credit Union Manager Matthew Lee is replacing Thompson at the helm of the regional business organization. Joining as Vice-President is Sarah Hall of the Morinville Adopt-a-Family, and returning director Allan Ottway is secretary/treasurer.

Capital Vision Care’s Leighann Hoetmer, JLS Decals & Signs/RV City’s Jasmine Monpetit, Atlas Premium Homes owner Larren Monti, Meadows of Morinville’s Kelly Johnston, ATB Financial’s Renee Alexander, and iCandy Optical Ltd. owner Lisa Piche are the Chamber directors.

Chamber Executive Director Roberta Pawluk called the change in leadership bittersweet.

“When I started here four and a half years ago, it [the Chamber] wasn’t in the greatest shape,” Pawluk said. “Shaun and I have worked tirelessly to increase our profile. He is wonderful. I couldn’t have asked for a better boss. He gives to this community. He gives back. He’s very passionate about Morinville businesses and Morinville as a whole.”

Although excited about new members and new ideas at the Chamber board table, Pawluk said she is pleased to see Thompson staying on to guide new president Matthew Lee for the first year of his term as Chamber president.

From The Ground Up

Thompson, who has been on the Chamber board for eight years and president for six, said it has been a lot of fun doing what the Chamber has been doing during a regrowth period.

The now-past president said the work was only possible with fellow board members and management.

“We all do things as a team, and I think we’ve done a lot,” Thomson said, noting the first two years of his time as president focused on learning the lay of the land and then making some changes within the Chamber office.

“We got a new executive director, and I think from there, started building a good structure,” he said. “Not everything has been perfect, but we’ve made sure to debrief and made sure to better each event year after year.”

Thompson said a lot of groundwork has been accomplished thanks to past directors, current directors and the executive director.

Some of that groundwork has been reaching out to and working with Alexander First Nation. “I think there are a lot of things we can help each other with, and they are 20 minutes away.

At one point, the Chamber believed it had 238 members when, in fact, they only had 139. Today, that number is up to 170 active members.

Thompson has enjoyed his time as president but is looking forward to passing the chair to Lee, Hall, Ottway and the other board members.

While Thompson is staying on as past president for a year, he is also on the board of the Morinville Food Bank and has been for the past two years.

Building From A Strong Foundation

Although new to the Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce Board, Servus Credit Union Manager Matthew Lee has been in banking for the past 22 years and served on several non-profit boards in the past, including a stint as treasurer of a church in Edmonton.

“I really feel that Morinville is at a great opportunity for growth, and when I say growth, I’m not just looking at business, but residents,” Lee said. “I see business growth, but I’m also looking at opportunities on how we can increase our community engagement.”

Lee said he’d like to see additional festivals and fairs and sees the Chamber’s role in part to support businesses but also to support the families who support those businesses.

With a history in banking, Lee said he has seen how local businesses impact communities and how communities can help businesses-something he does not see as exclusive to each other.

“Shaun had to kind of tear down the house as the president and rebuild the foundation,” Lee said. “And I think that foundation is solid. You look at the financials and where they were and where they are now. It’s really come around. The foundation has been built up, and I think the next steps that we have are building that community engagement and really looking at how we can entice more businesses to set up shop here in Morinville.”

Lee said he wants to look at what is unique to Morinville that puts it on the map that will increase the community profile and bring people from inside and outside the region.


Left: Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce Past President Shaun Thompson and new President Matthew Lee. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

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