Should companies from outside Drumheller be able to join the Chamber? | DrumhellerMail
Last updateFri, 14 Jun 2024 6pm

Should companies from outside Drumheller be able to join the Chamber?

    At least one member of the Drumheller and District Chamber of Commerce is not happy with the board’s current policy of allowing outside companies who do business in the valley to join the Chamber.
     Fred Makowecki is upset that a company from Strathmore, which makes signs and doesn’t have a local office, but does provide a service in the valley, is able to join the Drumheller and District Chamber of Commerce. Makowecki said competition is not the issue.
    “It is not about the competition I couldn’t care less, if you don’t conduct your business well you are not going to succeed,” he said. “What I do have a problem with is a sign shop from Strathmore that took out a membership with the Chamber of Commerce. It has no employees in town, as far as I know no business licence, no investment in the community. If you give them $100 for a sign, he gives his money to the Rotary Club there (in Strathmore) or whatever they do.”
    He brought this issue up with the Chamber of Commerce.
    “How can you sell a membership to a company 90 kilometres away with no investment in the community? You are supposed to be promoting business in town that employs people. It is for the health of our community,” said Makowecki.
    He received a response from the Chamber of Commerce. President Barry Fullerton said the topic was vigorously discussed, but the Chamber came out supporting its current policy.
    In a letter to Makowecki, Fullerton said:
    “…In the end, the majority saw no reason to make any changes to our present practices in accepting new members from outside of Drumheller. It was felt that in 1968 when our name was changed to include ‘and District’, business was done very differently than it is today where many products and services are bought online. A company from outside that is already doing business in our community who seeks us out to purchase a membership is putting, in a small way, money back into our community through the many projects the Chamber participates in.”
    Makowecki feels that including 'and District,' but not providing a geographical border, is a slippery slope.
    “If you let Strathmore in, and draw a circle, wouldn’t that include Balzac then? Does that mean Sportchek can then take a membership in the Chamber of Commerce… am I the only one that sees this as wrong?”
    He feels the Chamber’s role is to support local business.
    “Chambers of Commerce are advocates for the businesses in town. They are a group that pulls together and says, ‘Come here and we’ll serve you.’ They are a mechanism not to just get cheap Visa rates or company insurance policies, they are there to give you a step up and help you compete with exactly this kind of pressure.”
    Fullerton said the policy has been around for many years.
    “We are not here to deter business,” said Fullerton “All we are saying is, if they are going to go out of their way to join us, why shouldn’t we? We are not here to put borders around our town.”
    He said denying a membership to a company that is already doing business in the community doesn’t help the community at all.
    “They are, through our membership, putting a few bucks back into the community into something we control. Talk to some of the not-for-profits, the Atlas Coal Mine would not be here today if it was not for the Chamber of Commerce.”
    He adds that by being inclusive, the community could foster a closer relationship with these businesses.
    “Maybe, somewhere down the line they may in fact open an office here,” said Fullerton. “There are businesses like that, that only come and take money out of the community and you are not going to stop it. Maybe somewhere along the line they may be more involved in the community, that is where we were coming from. There was a lot of heated debate on this, on whether we were going to put up borders and say we were not going to accept membership outside of these borders, but that is not right either.”
    “If you only protect the businesses that are here, the likelihood of you growing is slim.”

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