Bruce Schollie expected to become president of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce — just not this year.
As second vice-president of the Chamber, the owner of Schollie Research & Consulting was scheduled to assume the top position in the fall of 2011. But he leapfrogged first vice-president Jim Baker after a job-related relocation prompted Baker to resign.
Dom Mancuso, Chamber president for the 2009-10 term, was to hand the reins to Schollie today during the business association’s AGM.
“I knew my term was coming,” Schollie told reporters earlier this week. “It just came a year earlier.”
Despite his early ascension to the presidency, Schollie said he’s ready for the associated responsibilities, including a pretty heavy time commitment.
“I’m going to guess that it’s probably going to be the equivalent of a half or a full day per week.”
In addition to being on the Chamber board for the past five years, he previously served as a Chamber ambassador. And through Schollie Research & Consulting he’s worked closely with area municipalities, economic development bodies and other large organizations on projects that overlapped nicely with Chamber activities.
Schollie said the primary focus of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce is to create an environment that’s good for doing business. It pushes for policies that further this objective.
At the Alberta Chambers of Commerce annual general meeting in May, 10 of the 35 policy resolutions brought forward originated with the Red Deer Chamber. And it’s sponsoring four resolutions at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s AGM this weekend, said Schollie.
“It’s something that we’re always conscious of and focusing on.
“In the past, we’ve had as many as 120 members working on policy.”
The Red Deer Chamber is also pursuing ways to stimulate the local economy, said Schollie, such as the foreign direct investment initiative that it’s undertaken as a partner in Red Deer Regional Economic Development.
It provides value to individual members through group benefits, discounted rates on credit and debit card charges, and other programs, said Schollie, and also offers educational, marketing and networking events.
“On a broad level we’re doing policy, we’re doing economic development; but at a grassroots level there are tangible benefits as well for people to become members.”
Schollie moved from his native Manitoba to Stettler in 1991 after accepting a job with the Western Canada Lottery Corporation. He worked there as a marketing research analyst before being named product manager in charge of Sports Select.
“I learned a lot about sports,” said Schollie, who after six years with the Western Canada Lottery Corporation relocated to Red Deer and started his current business.
Looking forward, he’s optimistic that our current economic hardships are behind us. He noted that local unemployment statistics have been trending downward for several months.
“That’s a really good indicator of economic activity.”
But, he added, it’s important that business people demonstrate “go-forward leadership” to help bolster the recovery.