Four months after almost ceasing operations, the new president of the Nakusp Chamber of Commerce says the organization has turned things around.
“I absolutely expect things to move forward,” says Tina Knooihuizen. “We’ve done so much in the short time we’ve been together. Give us a year – we’re going to surprise everyone.”
In March, the Chamber held an emergency meeting, and announced that without people coming forward to form a new executive, one of Nakusp’s oldest organizations would have to fold. The future of the Visitor Centre run by the Chamber was also in doubt, as the past president said they had no staff to run it.
The warning worked, and a full slate of directors – four executive and three regular board members – were found to lead the organization.
Knooihuizen, an artist who runs the business Raven Ridge, says all the new board members are enthusiastic about tackling the challenges. But she admits they lack experience.
“I hung up on a discussion where I agreed to be the president, and then I googled, ‘What is the Chamber of Commerce?’” she told the Valley Voice. “We are all brand new, not only to being Chamber directors, but to being directors for anything. I’m the only one with experience being on a board.”
The first meetings were devoted to doing the essentials – especially trying to keep the Visitor Centre open, says Knooihuizen. They managed to hire new blood to run it.
“We have amazing staff there – we are really happy with that,” she says. “Everyone at the Visitor Centre is working on rebuilding that, as well.”
Now that they’ve hired a manager and staff for the tourism booth, they can go on to the next most important job at hand: strategic planning.
“We’re answering the question, ‘What is the benefit of being a member?’” she says. “Our first meetings were also about being a member, and we have a long list of things currently in place – from the Visitor Centre and filling brochure racks on the ferry – to the list of things we are working on having by the end of this year and up into next year.”
Fundraising is another big job, she says.
“We have to raise thousands just to keep the Visitor Centre and Chamber running,” she says. “But the hard work is fun, because of the good people we have.”
The other Chamber directors are Chelsea Potter (vice-president), Sandra Dempsey-Koch (treasurer), Courtney Edwards (secretary), Dolly Edwards, David Dudbar, and Chris Galea. Tracy Fetters is managing the Visitor Centre.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice