by Nanda Wubs Huizenga
Strength in numbers, pride in membership. The North Dundas Chamber of Commerce has been working hard towards this goal. We recognize the needs of our business community, and strive to bring more awareness, resources, and support to our members.
2021 was a challenging time for business owners, as well as the Chamber. And yet, we saw people and businesses pull together and, most importantly, the community recognized the importance of shopping local. In spite of the challenges of reduced membership, board members and staff departing, and the inability to host in-person events, the Chamber finished strong.
We held various virtual free events, such as “Marketing Plan Made Easy” with Dan Gasser, and “Make Your Website Stand Out” with Sandy Burns. We introduced our first “Chamber Chat” in December as an in-person event. Chamber Chat provides an opportunity for both members and non-members to connect. This informal meeting gives us a chance to hear from our business community, and has brought about real change, workable goals, and lasting business connections.
Membership has gradually been increasing to pre-pandemic levels. We continue to attract new businesses which see the value of joining. Currently, our greatest industry representation consists of: Agriculture, Financial Services, Construction and Trades, Manufacturing, Non-Profit, Automotive, Health/Wellness, and Retail.
Our member dues (the lowest cost member dues in the region), support the goal of collaborating with business owners to strengthen our community. The Chamber takes an active role in local economic development through leadership, creativity, and collaboration. Some of our accomplishments and initiatives include surveying our members on important issues, supporting local tourism through the establishment of the Chamber Tourism Grant, hiring a professional Social Media developer, incorporating community resources such as a Job Board and Community Events to our website, providing a members-only section with resources, grants, funding, local tenders, and promotional opportunities, establishing a weekly newsletter, and creating advertising opportunities to promote members online and at events. We also offer the community a way to support new or struggling businesses by sponsoring a membership on their behalf.
As a member of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, we have access to a number of discount programs that benefit our members. These organizations also help our chamber to gain access to a wealth of research and knowledge on policy issues that matter to Ontario businesses. We are proud of our strong relationship with the Township and see the benefit of collaborating to support our members.
Lastly, we are excited to have this opportunity to launch our latest initiative – ShopNorthDundas.ca. Created by Board Members Jen Feeny and Nanda Wubs Huizenga in 2020, to support local businesses during COVID-19, the online directory has grown to list over 400 businesses and service providers in North Dundas.
Shop North Dundas is a free service for all local businesses to help them reach more prospective clients and grow their sales. For some, it is their only avenue of online advertising. Recently, the Chamber took on the management of Shop North Dundas to be able to grow its reach and exposure – and offer another promotional opportunity to members, who receive a featured listing, highlighted on the website.
As a non-profit, the Chamber receives no funding and relies solely on membership and event sales. If you would like to support local business and chamber initiatives, please join the Chamber, or consider our advertising opportunities listed on the website. We also invite the business community to our next Chamber Chat on Thursday, June 16 at 9:00am at the North Dundas Business Centre. These are free events.
I would like to personally thank our Board of Directors who have dedicated their talent and time serving on the Chamber. Just a reminder that these positions are voluntary and require a personal commitment to serving our business community. Most importantly, I want to thank our members, who have given us their support and confidence. We look forward to continuing to support you.