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PAB & Area Chamber holds first AGM in 4 years

From left: René Roy, Nadine Osmond, Tammy Porter, Rose Hautamaki, Roger Spencer, Todd Strickland. Not shown: Dave Harvey, Samantha Allen. – © Jaymie White / Wreckhouse Press

By Jaymie L. White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES — The Port aux Basques and Area Chamber of Commerce held their annual general meeting (AGM) on Monday evening, June 19, at the Railway Heritage Museum, marking the first AGM for the chamber since 2018.The meeting began with a report by President Todd Strickland. “I have been here in this seat for the last couple of years. I’ve been a member of the Chamber, as liaison for town, for the last nine and a half – ten years. It’s been a lot of changes in nine years. We are on our fourth employee since I’ve been here, we’ve gone through a lot of different board members, and unfortunately, at one point we were at all time low, I believe where we had three, maybe four board members that was getting us through just before COVID struck and COVID struck, and then we almost lost our employee.” Because the last AGM was in 2018, Strickland chose to focus instead on the last year, as opposed to going back to 2017. “The Port aux Basques and Area Chamber of Commerce provided two non-EI eligible youth candidates with a 26-week work experience placement. The program involved a four-day orientation and monthly workshops dealing with a variety of topics including personal development, job readiness, labor market information, job search techniques, and enhancement of the essential skills,” said Strickland. “This program enables youth from a variety of educational and social backgrounds to achieve their career and employment goals by returning to complete academic upgrading, entering postsecondary training and continuing in employment, or becoming self-employed. Both of these placements led to full-time work at respected places.” Small Business Week was the next undertaking for the Chamber. “Small Business Week was in October. Small Business Week should have been held from October 14 to the 20th. It celebrated local small business within our memberships, but due to Fiona, we put that aside and we just concentrated on what needed to happen in town,” said Strickland. The train station was used as a set-up where items that were recovered during Fiona could be picked up. “This was a place that you could come and pick up any last items that may have been picked up. So we had some tables set up and I’m not going to get into what was here, but there was a little bit of everything and we kept that here for a long time. Some stuff I don’t think ever got claimed.” Christmas week was the next event the Chamber took part in. “Due to the fact that Chamber didn’t do Small Business Week, we decided to do Christmas Week. So the week of December 19 to 23, a local business was drawn each day for a 25 dollar Tim’s card,” said Strickland. “Members were surprised and really happy to be recognized and we’ll discuss something of this sort that we should do both for Small Business Week and for Christmas Week. It’s no big thing to give out a few cards to members for Christmas week as well. So I’m hoping with the new committee, new board, it’s something that we stick with and do again this year.” Next Strickland discussed the huge undertaking that was the Lifestyle Expo last month. “René Roy took the lead on that and went with it, and boy, did he go with it. I can’t even try to calculate the number of man hours between René and the board and volunteers that was put into it in planning it. But from what I could see from before the Expo, he did a bang-up job and there were numerous hours and time spent,” said Strickland. “It was a big difference from Expos that we had in the past, and unfortunately, a lot of the time people don’t like change and a lot of people are upset because this may not have been here or this feature may not have been there. There were no campers and that kind of thing, but the whole thing was we went a different avenue anyway, so it was going to be different than what it was.” Strickland said he couldn’t thank Roy and the committee enough for their work. “I do hope it continues. I just hope this year was a learning curve and we’ll take the good with the bad. I still think overall was a success by all means, especially for the Chamber and funds that came in and networking and stuff that happened for businesses, so anytime that happens, it’s got to be a win-win,” said Strickland. “We had 31 exhibitors representing a wide variety of different businesses, new and old, direct success. We had representation from the mining industry, windmills, technical support, sports, community health, community local and downtown businesses were in attendance as well. We had guest speakers for all three days and different exhibitors put out presentations as well. Even though the attendance from the public was not there, it turned to be a great networking option for all exhibitors. This was a stepping zone for future Expos.” This summer, the Chamber will have six summer student positions. “The six positions were tour guides at a museum. The students work for eight weeks, 35 hours a week. We have high school position for four weeks at 20 hours a week. We now have one student from the Southwest Coast Historical Society,” said Strickland. “With summer positions, we’re looking forward to a great summer and for our summer students to earn some valuable experience on their return to school and or whatever they’re going to do in the future.” Next, the current treasurer, Tracy Keeping, delivered an overview of the Chamber’s financial report. The meeting concluded with the dissolution of the existing board and the election of a new board. Only one vote was necessary. Both Todd Strickland and René Roy (Wreckhouse Press) were nominated for President. Roy won by a narrow vote of 8 to 5. Nadine Osmond, President of the Southwest Coast Historical Society, was acclaimed as secretary, which she held on the last board. The positions of vice-president and treasurer remain unfilled; however, they will be decided at the first meeting of the Chamber in September, following the summer break. The director positions were filled by acclimation. Joining the Chamber board are: Dave Harvey (Salvation Army), Tammy Porter (Hotel Port aux Basques), Todd Strickland (Town of PAB Liaison), Rose Hautamaki (Rosie’s Burger Bar), Roger Spencer (Atlancia Technica), and Samantha Allen (College of the North Atlantic). Newly-elected Chamber President, René Roy, who is also editor-in-chief at Wreckhouse Weekly, hopes the next year will be calmer than the last few years in the wake of a global pandemic and Hurricane Fiona. “I’m hoping to see nothing major coming down the line anymore, no more massive events, to give us a sense of return to what the chamber should be, run with active membership, volunteerism, new events, and new programs,” said Roy. “We’d just like to get things rolling again. It’s been a long time since it really was, and it’s no fault of the previous board, but it’s just the way the world has been for the last four years.” It was Roy who spearheaded the Lifestyle Expo this past May, and he hopes it will continue, even though he won’t be at the helm next time. “As Todd Strickland said, it was an enormous time investment because we put it off in just a few months,” said Roy. “So while I would absolutely support another Expo, now as the president or chair, I would not chair that committee. It would fall to someone else to handle that, and I’m hoping someone would be very interested because we need to start it much earlier than we did this past event.” With industry leaders now part of the Chamber membership, the organization will aim to support them as well as smaller local members. “All businesses need information on how to run their business. They need to know what the new WHIMIS or OSHA files and updates are. They need to be kept apprised of policies and procedures that might change from the provincial or federal government. So we can take advantage of some of those programs, bring in presenters from, let’s say, how to hire a foreign worker to what the new change is on building code,” said Roy. “All of these things can be relevant for a great deal of our membership, from someone who’s selling socks to someone who’s selling stocks, so we’d love to take advantage of that.”

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