The Altona & District Chamber of Commerce and SEED are forming a new partnership, creating a one-stop-shop for businesses that is focused on attracting, growing, and retaining businesses within the Town of Altona and Municipality of Rhineland.
The process has begun to reorganize the Chamber's structure and relocate it to the SEED office, where it will be overseen by SEED's economic development officer, Stephanie Harris.
Kal Smith, President of the Altona and District Chamber of Commerce, said there was no trigger point that spawned the move.
"Maybe it was a COVID thing where we found that maybe now was the right time. As a business owner, I've seen a lot of service overlap, some redundancies I felt could be a lot of more efficient for the business owners and effective for the businesses. As much as the two tried to stay distinct...there was a little bit of confusion."
Overall, Smith feels like will be a great thing for the local business community.
"The two sides think this is the best way to do it. We bring it all under one roof, all under one hat. The business community, business owners and stakeholders know this is the one place they're going to go to for any concerns, any problems they have."
“What the RPGA has in SEED is a unique and vibrant business climate," added Scott Penner, President, SEED In The RPGA. "Uniting two regional municipalities, along with strong business leaders, has built a dynamic ecosystem of growth and development. By partnering with the Chamber of Commerce, we’re able to assist in the entirety of the business life cycle, further strengthening all supports and programming for businesses in the area.”
Councils for the Town of Altona and the Municipality of Rhineland, both stakeholders in each of the organizations, approve of the partnership and have passed resolutions to that effect.
“Supporting our local economic growth and existing business community is important to our overall growth and success as a town. We are pleased to support the proposed organizational structure changes for the Altona and District Chamber of Commerce and SEED in the RPGA, which will allow them to work more closely hand-in-hand in achieving that growth and success,” stated Harv Schroeder, Town of Altona, Mayor
“The Rhineland Municipality recognizes the importance of supporting existing businesses as well as attracting and supporting new business ventures. This new organizational structure will create a more coordinated approach to respond to local business concerns while still providing all the benefits of a chamber membership,” added Don Wiebe, Municipality of Rhineland, Reeve
Both organizations will maintain their current visions, mandates and programming, along with separate boards of directors but be connected by one person, that being Harris.
"As far as SEED is concerned, we're still focused on economic development, we're still focused on businesses getting started, attracting them to the community and helping them grow," explained Harris. "And then the Chamber's role is to support them once they are up and running - what are their needs, issues, concerns, challenges - and how do we now as an organization continue to support our existing businesses, better?"
The structure of the Chamber will change slightly with this partnership. A Programs and Events Coordinator position will be created. This new position will have a strong focus on creating and implementing valuable programs and events for the Chamber Membership.
“As a Board we want to thank Cheryl Link, for all she has done over the last 2 years," said Smith. "Over the last two years, she has provided some great insight for the Chamber and its members and has left the Chamber is a better position then where it was before her tenure with the organization.”
The organizational restructuring is currently underway; however, the Chamber anticipates being settled in its new space, Programs and Events Coordinator position filled and strategic planning session completed in January 2023.