Better year for Chamber in ’16

Duane Hicks

The Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce had a much better year financially in 2016 than the year before.
The Chamber ended 2016 with a profit of $10,907.26 compared to being $10,281.99 in the hole in 2015–a difference of $21,189.25, treasurer Mike Canfield told members attending the annual general meeting last Thursday evening at La Place Rendez-Vous.
This, in turn, has helped reduce the Chamber’s deficit from $40,023.73 at the end of 2015 to $29,116.47 as at Dec. 31, 2016.
“It was a good year for the Chamber,” said Canfield, noting one major factor was the profit realized from special events.
The 2016 business awards made $4,061 in profit, for example, while last year’s Business & Community Expo made a profit of $4,916.
The chili cook-off had a profit of more than $1,400, with “Quest for the Best” making a little over $5,600.
On top of that, Canfield said “the early projections for 2017 look very promising.”
The 2017 business awards held Feb. 9 realized a profit of $5,500.
Meanwhile, early numbers indicate this year’s expo held April 21-22 also was “a success from a financial and promotion standpoint.”
“Obviously, the events that we put on are really important from the point-of-view of not only promoting business but also making profit,” Canfield stressed.
“They’ve got to do both.”
The Chamber also reduced its operating expenses from $107,570.62 in 2015 to $91,446.34 in 2016.
One area of significant savings was rent, which went from $10,800 in 2015, when the Chamber was located above the credit union, to $6,966 in 2016 at its new location in the Children and Family Services building (old high school).
Overall, the Chamber showed a bit of a turnaround in 2016, said Canfield.
“We started out the year in a pretty big hole, and everybody in the Chamber and on the committees did a pretty good job digging part way out of that hole,” he remarked.
“We had pretty good events last year . . . and we’re in a better position at the end,” he concluded.
Chamber president Mark Caron, meanwhile, is looking forward to what 2017 has in store.
“2017 is a new year with new challenges and a new board of directors eager to carry out the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce’s many programs and community events,” he noted.
“We are the voice of business–a voice made up of many members and various industries and diverse interests,” Caron added.
“With that said, one of the Chamber’s main goals this year is to re-evaluate our mandate and set a plan as to how we, as a Chamber, will run in a strategic and professional way, and that our operations reflect national standards of business excellence.
“The Chamber of Commerce looks forward to working with, and for, our members to be an advocate on their behalf with municipal, regional, and provincial governments,” said Caron.
He pledged the Chamber will work to ensure Fort Frances will become the most economically-prosperous and desirable place to live and work.
“As the area’s leading membership-driven organization, we are committed to providing value to our members,” Caron stressed.
“We don’t just want to meet the needs of our members–we want to exceed their expectations and give them a reason to be proud of the Chamber.”
Having hosted the business awards in February and the Business & Community Expo last week, both of which received positive reviews, the Chamber still has plenty on its agenda this year, Chamber executive director Jennifer Soderholm noted.
In addition to “Mall Days” in late June, Soderholm said she would like the Chamber to get back on board with “Fun in the Sun” and have a presence when planning July 1 activities this year.
Then on July 21, the Chamber once again will hold “Quest for the Best” in conjunction with the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship, followed in September by the “Great Canadian Chili Cook-off.”
In other news, the Chamber has applied to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. in hopes of getting funds to hire a full-time, one-year intern.
“The Chamber believes this internship will provide a great learning experience for the right intern and also assist the Chamber in its day-to-day operations,” said Soderholm.
This is in addition to applying for summer student funding.
As well, the Chamber board introduced a motion requesting the Town of Fort Frances either remove the faded banners on the mill building at the border or replace them with something new.
Since they were unable to form a quorum at the AGM, the motion has been sent out to Chamber members for a vote.