The Castlegar & District Chamber of Commerce (CDCOC) was recognized as the BC Chamber of the Year by the BC Chamber of Commerce.
All chambers and boards of trade in the province are eligible for the annual award.
“We were quite in shock,” said CDCOC executive director Tammy Verigin-Burk. “The competition is quite significant.”
Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff was thrilled with the announcement.
“It shows the value of the Chamber to the community,” he said. “Our small community against all the big cities — and the Castlegar Chamber came out the winner … They deserve all of the accolades.”
He also commended all of the staff at the Chamber. “Things can’t happen without the hard-working staff.”
“It is a Chamber award, but it is also a community award — the business people, the residents are all a part of what happens.”
Chambers are asked to fill out submission forms and answer questions such as:
Whats is the most significant impact your work had on your community?
How do you advocate for businesses?
What programs do you have to develop staff?
How do you engage volunteers?
How do you encourage businesses to join the chamber and then retain them?
What is your budget?
What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Verigin-Burke said their submission focused on the launch of the economic development program. It is the first economic development program the city has had since the early 1990s.
“It was the business community who wanted it and the business community came together and we really pushed hard for it with the Chamber, Columbia Basin Trust and our politicians,” explained Verigin-Burk.
“After a few years, they agreed to fund it. To me that was incredibly exciting and the fact that the business community and the politicians thought it would be best to be under the Chamber and working in partnership with the Chamber.”
She is excited to see the work and progress that is already being made with the new program.
“It is mind blowing to see how much work we are doing right now between Mark [Laver — Castlegar’s economic development officer] and I. It is all so cohesive because we are right here in the same building, strategizing, leveraging, working together as well as with Destination Castlegar,” she said.
“So with us having that solid team we are able to work with the City of Castlegar to really maximize and get things done.”
The Castlegar Chamber went into the BC Chamber of Commerce AGM and Conference knowing they were one of seven finalists for the award.
But the group was still surprised when the presenter said, “One chamber in the end stood out ahead of everybody else because of the incredible work they had done that would be long-lasting for their chamber members — Castlegar.”
“We almost fell over — I was in such shock,” said Verigin-Burk. “I thought the odds were like winning the lottery. There are such huge chambers out there and everyone is doing such amazing work.”
The award was sponsored by Uber and came with $2,500. The Chamber’s board will now be looking at how to spend their new money.