Welcome and thank you for joining us at our 2018 Annual General Meeting.
I wanted to take this opportunity to give thanks to our new members and those that choose to renew their Chamber memberships. We’ve all heard the adage about strength in numbers. When it comes to the Chamber, this rings particularly true as we work together to influence government, grow the economy, and expand our networks and connections to business and the community at large.
We are constantly striving to ensure we are providing value to members and fulfilling our vision to be a collaborative leader in building a vibrant community, a task that can only be done through the support and participation of our members.
Through the 2017 – 2018 Chamber year we had some challenges, but we also saw some considerable successes.
This past year’s Agri-Trade was among our most successful yet. Once again selling out we saw more than 30,000 attendees pass through the gates. The estimated economic impact of the event was a staggering $268 million dollars.
Along with our strong partnership with Westerner Park, we were successful in our bid to secure a multi-year contract to host the Canadian Finals Rodeo right here in Red Deer. We estimate the economic impact of this event to be $20 million per year.
We are pleased to have welcomed 120 new members. As of the end of the June 30th
Chamber year, we have 836 members, resulting in a 4% net growth in membership. The number of members choosing to renew their membership also increased by 4%, so that 92% of members renew their membership year over year.
On the advocacy front, we continued to bring the issues and priorities facing business to decision makers.
Municipally, we began the year by advocating the City of Red Deer aim[LK1]
for a zero percent tax increase to it’s operating budget to reflect the cost challenges and competitiveness issues facing business and residents in our community. This advocacy helped guide Council to reduce the increase in spending to 1.01%, down from the 2.51% proposed by administration. We’ve also advocated for fewer regulations and increased advertising opportunities for business.
We hosted a political forum for the thirty plus candidates that were vying for council and Mayor, creating the opportunity for voters to question and learn about the candidates.
Provincially, we saw significant success as our advocacy efforts helped result in the Government’s historic decision to grant Red Deer College’s longstanding request for degree-granting status.
Federally, we brought forward a policy recommending the Government strike a Royal Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the Canadian tax statutes – a task that hasn’t been undertaken since the 1960s. This position has been adopted and echoed by several notable organizations including the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada and the Senate of Canada.
Throughout the year we hosted 33 events with more than 1,100 attendees, creating opportunities for our members to connect with one another, build relationships, learn, and recognize excellence.
A few highlights include our Cannabis in the Workplace luncheon where we learned about the impacts of legalization on business and strategies to manage the challenges that will arise.
We hosted a panel with representatives from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, and the Business Development Bank of Canada to gain their expert insight into what the future for Alberta’s largest industry holds.
We had the Chief Information Officer from Fortis Inc discuss the growing threat of cyber security and how business can deal with this challenge.
We also hosted the Premier of Alberta, the Honourable Rachel Notley this past May and heard about the challenges and priorities are government is pursuing.
We formed a partnership with the Red Deer Construction Association to host monthly Building Business Breakfasts – a series of educational workshops covering issues ranging from marketing to employment standards changes.
Our Business of the Year Awards were our best yet with record attendance and a record number of nominations. We also took the opportunity to recognize our legacy members – a number of companies who have been Chamber members and pillars of our community for 50 years and more.
As an organization we continue our efforts to grow our presence in the community, our outreach, and our communication.
We continue to increase our presence online on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, with a growing base of followers allowing us to connect in non-traditional ways with our members and the community sharing the stories of our members and what we’re working on.
We continue to build and evolve relationships with partners, stakeholders, members, and like-minded organizations to develop and pursue new initiatives aimed at serving our membership and the community.
Working closely with the media we’ve strived to bring the issues facing business to the forefront by regularly providing columns and commentary on policy issues.
In closing, I want to again thank you for your membership.