Chamber shines at gala dinner

TOP LEFT: Mayor John Dooley. TOP RIGHT: Chamber of Commerce president Chuck Bennett. BELOW: Auctioneer Reg Clarkson. -  Sam Van Schie photos
TOP LEFT: Mayor John Dooley. TOP RIGHT: Chamber of Commerce president Chuck Bennett. BELOW: Auctioneer Reg Clarkson.
— image credit: Sam Van Schie photos

Nelson Chamber of Commerce held its annual gala dinner and auction on Saturday.

The sold out event, held at the Prestige Lakeside Resort, is the Chamber's biggest fundraising events of the year. More than 100 local businesses donated items to sell in silent and live auctions.

Chamber president Chuck Bennett gave a speech highlighting the businesses organization's work over the past year.

He said he was particularly proud of the ongoing work to revitalize the CP Rail building at the foot of Baker Street. And that the Chamber continues to look for new ways to support business development and recently began holding sector-specific meetings to understand the challenges of people working in different areas of business.

Bennett also introduced the Chamber's new Think Local First 3/60 promotional campaign, which it launched this month in partnership with local media organizations. The campaign challenges people to pick three local businesses and spend $60 at each.

"We can not take our local business community for granted," Bennett said, extending the 3/60 challenge to everyone in the room. "We must be leaders. If we don't support each other, no one will."

Next, Mayor John Dooley took the podium to talk about what the City has been working on.

He said upgrades to the downtown power grid are nearly complete and will result in more reliable power for businesses in the city's core.

The mayor said he's meeting with developers interested in some of the city's vacant properties. And that he looks forward to work beginning on the old Extra Foods building, which is now owned by the Kootenay Co-op.

Dooley said the City is working hard to attract West Jet to fly into the Castlegar airport to improve reliability of air travel.

Finally, the mayor invited business owners with shops along Baker Street to talk to him about opportunities to improve the exterior of their buildings with support from the City.

"We want to lift Baker Street. We want your buildings upgraded and we're going to help you do it," Dooley said. "Come to my office to find out how."

After a buffet dinner, the live auction was led by funnyman Reg Clarkson.

Money raised at the event will be used to fund the Chamber's economic development campaigns and providing ongoing support for businesses.

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