Peace River chamber ‘all in this together’

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The Peace River and District Chamber of Commerce celebrates Small Business Week, Oct. 17-23, while businesses continue to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chamber president Peter Herritt appreciates the support of businesses.
“The Peace River and District Chamber of Commerce thanks all the businesses during these unprecedented times for their resiliency,” he says.
”We celebrate Small Business Week again this year knowing we are all in this together.
“A continued economic partnership with the Town of Peace River, Northern Sunrise County and the M.D. of Peace will build a stronger future for our businesses.”
Several virtual workshops for businesses are set for Small Business Week.

  • Oct. 21 at 11:45 a.m. Lunch and Learn. How Technology and the Internet Affect Our Health and Wellness – Part II.
  • Oct. 22 – Lunch and Learn at 11:45 a.m. Business and Staff Supports with Deanna Basarab, workforce consultant for Alberta Labour and Immigration and Stacey Messner, human resource expert.
    The sessions are a partnership with Community Futures Peace Country, Alberta Labour and River Country.
    Peace River chamber Shop Local Initiative continues to promote businesses, executive director Ramona Thoma says.
    The president visits small businesses to promote more foot traffic and awareness to the business.
    Thoma take photos and posts them on social media to showcase the owner, the businesses and their products and services.
    “The community engagement is very successful as more than 8,000 people are reached per visit,” Thoma says.
    Radio advertising, social media and LED sign messages are used to support the initiative.
    Thoma says the chamber supports businesses during COVID-19 by hearing and responding to concerns of businesses with the restrictions.
    A communication portal has opened between the local chamber, Alberta Chamber of Commerce and provincial government ministers.
    Business concerns were emailed to the ACC and president Ken Kolby communicated with the government minister in charge of the concern and responded to the chamber within 24-48 hours, Thoma says.
    In the beginning of 2020, it was about holes in supports for businesses not qualifying for grants, loans, then delays in grant funds, she says.
    Currently, businesses ask about clarifications on the COVID-19 Restriction Exemption Program and rapid tests.
    The chamber got answers and businesses then qualified for grants, loans, and delays in funds were remedied.
    ACC negotiated with the government to have local chambers distribute free of charge rapid test kits to businesses to test employees.
    Herritt, board of directors, and chamber staff met with provincial government ministers, had a Zoom meeting with Senator Doug Black, to voice their local business concerns, and emails were shared with any movement on the issues.
    General membership meetings were hosted virtual with monthly speakers that varied from business projects in the area to business supports.
    The chamber hosted a federal election forum, and an in-person municipal election forum live on Facebook, Thoma says.

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