Leader of the pack

A former president of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce is heading up the business organization’s provincial counterpart.

Don Oszli

A former president of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce is heading up the business organization’s provincial counterpart.

Don Oszli was named chairman of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce executive committee during a conference and policy session last weekend. This will mark his fourth year on the executive committee.

A partner with Red Deer accounting firm Heywood Holmes and Partners LLP, Oszli said he will spearhead the activities of the provincial chamber and help further its aims and objectives. This will include bringing policy initiatives to the attention of government.

“We try to meet as frequently as we can with the ministers that are affected by the policies to discuss them with them and see whether we can effect change or to get their position on items.”

Issues that Oszli expects to be prominent this year include labour, infrastructure and health care. But new concerns can arise quickly, he noted.

The Alberta Chambers of Commerce adopts new policies on a regular basis, with these brought forward and voted on by members. But a policy group also seeks member input on emerging issues, which allows the organization to respond quickly with a unified voice.

“We find that the politicians are really quite receptive to that, because it is such a broad-based and considered response.”

The Alberta Chambers of Commerce also provides members with value-added programs, like group insurance plans and merchant discount plans for credit cards.

As chairman of the Edmonton-based Alberta Chambers of Commerce executive committee, Oszli will also sit on the board of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

He thinks his role will help elevate the profile of his home city, noting that he’s the first Central Albertan in many years to serve in the position.

Oszli was on the board of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce for eight years, and acted as its president from 2002 to 2003.

He said his commitment to the chamber movement reflects his belief in the role it plays.

“Having a strong business representation is important. That’s ultimately where your community grows from.”

Chambers look beyond direct business interests when forming policy, he said. For instance, they tackle issues like health care and infrastructure.

“If you have a community and you want to attract businesses and you want to attract workers into it, your community needs to be safe, there needs to be cultural things that happen and a number of other things.”

Oszli has been with Heywood Holmes since 1982. In addition to being a chartered accountant, he has his certified management accountant’s and certified internal auditor’s designations.

The Alberta Chambers of Commerce is a federation of 124 community chambers, with these representing more than 22,000 businesses.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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