Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual gala fundraiser at the Prestige on Saturday night.
The event is an opportunity for the local business community to mingle and enjoy dinner together; bid on some auction items donated by fellow business owners (proceeds go to the Chamber); and hear an update on the advocacy work the Chamber has been doing on their behalf in the past year.
Chamber president Justin Pelant said the organization has continued with an initiative started last year to organize sector-specific round tables that identify barriers to their business growth. He was particularly pleased with a recent discussion with people in the building/development sector, which led to the Chamber bringing their concerns to Nelson city council and staff.
“We’re very pleased with the dialogue we have with [Nelson] council and look forward to upcoming meetings with directors from the RDCK,” Pelant said, noting the Chamber also does advocacy on a provincial and federal level.
In the coming weeks, the Chamber will launch a “think local first” marketing campaign, which will highlight how businesses in the area give back to local foundations and non-profit organizations.
“Shopping local means more jobs, more payroll and more local business for the tax base,” Pelant said. “When you spend out of the region, nothing comes back home. We can help keep a strong regional economy by thinking local first.”
Another focus for the Chamber of Commerce is its ongoing work to turn the former CP Rail station into the Regional Visitor Gateway. Since 2010, the organization has invested more than $1.5 million into the project.
“We’ve created more than 20 construction jobs, not to mention the economic benefit to building material suppliers,” Pelant said, adding that the finished building will showcase area businesses, investment opportunities and cultural diversity.
Mayor John Dooley commended the Chamber for its work in the community and highlighted some of the projects he’s looking forward to seeing move ahead, including the Kootenay Co-op’s Nelson Commons mixed-used development and Shambhala Music Festival’s restoration of the Savoy Hotel.
“These are going to be two marvellous anchors on either end of Baker Street,” he said. “I’m excited about the future of our community.”
He added that Phase 1 of development for Granite Pointe Village, a mixed use development at the golf course, may soon come to fruition. And there’s hope Air Canada will improve service to the Castlegar airport.
“We need to continue to have economic growth in our community,” Dooley said. “If we’re not growing, we’re dying.”