The Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce is continuing to serve businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, despite needing to change their operations and cancel their annual Spring Tradeshow.
Chamber Executive Director has been working from home since last week when the Chamber closed their office and has since shifted how the Chamber is operating during this public health emergency.
“A lot of what we do, we can continue to do virtually as far as connecting through social media, emails and telephone calls with our membership,” she said.
In terms of payment, the Chamber made a shift to online payments over two years ago.
“Some members still choose to pay by cheque and that is okay to but at this time it is taking longer for us to process those payments,” she said.
Bartman said the Chamber’s main focus has been ensuring their membership has all the relevant information they need from the provincial and federal governments in order to help get through this difficult time.
“That is not necessarily their business because we know a lot of them have decided to close their doors and others were mandated to close their doors,” she said.
Rather than focus on original content like webinars, the Chamber is ensuring their membership has the relevant information they need through email, teleconferencing and social media. The Chamber is also working with provincial and federal counterparts to ensure the information they have is up-to-date and relevant for their members.
“Both of those organizations last week started doing weekly calls with the whole network,” Bartman said. “The first call I was on with the Canadian Chamber included 150 people from across the country.
“There goal is to ensure we as community chambers have the information we need and that is also being disseminated to businesses.”
Bartman said she is also working with these Chambers and other business-friendly organizations to lobby government for business support throughout and after the pandemic.
“One of the main items was around wage subsidy that is available,” she said. “The Federal Government has provided a 10 per cent wage subsidy for businesses but there is a cap per employee and each employer has a cap. Every bit helps, but at this point 10 per cent is not going to get us very far.
“There are some countries that are doing 75, 80 per cent wage subsidies. That is the level of support that we will be needing.”
Bartman also said they are lobbying the Federal government not to increase the federal carbon tax on April 1 as currently planned.
“That is something the Alberta Chamber of Commerce is really trying to get their voice heard on,” she said.
Bartman said it was a difficult but necessary decision to cancel the Chamber’s annual tradeshow.
Our goal with the tradeshow now is developing a page on our website where we can have a digital tradeshow. Any business that had registered to participate up until the time we cancelled the event will be included on that page with a logo of their business, relevant contact information and a link to their website,” she said.
Bartman added the Chamber is pleased with recent measures taken by the City of Lacombe in terms of offering deferred utility payments and flexibility in terms of paying property taxes.