Another shift in focus for South Okanagan Chamber

After trailing through three presidents in the last six months, the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce is now without an executive director.

But the Chamber’s current president, Brian Highley, says the loss of Denise Blashko is just part of the growing pains as the Chamber finds its business advocacy footing in the South Okanagan.

The Chamber, which recently divested itself of ownership of the popular Festival of the Grape, now wants to focus on being a business services umbrella for the South Okanagan business community.

“With all of the events, and co-ordination and administration, there was just no way to get the actual Chamber work done,” said Mr. Highley. “The answer was to hire staff to take care of the admin stuff and the higher-level Chamber projects should be contracted out to people who have that skill set.”

“(With Denise leaving) this was the time to do it.”

The Chamber is turning its attention towards being more of an advocate, providing training and education, and delivering business-to-business networking in an effort to help South Okanagan businesses.

The Chamber, Mr. Highley said, is looking forward to more on-the-ground engaging with its membership, policy development and focusing on economic development.

“The Chamber is evolving,” said Mr. Highley.

That evolution has proven a little messy.

Last November, former president Corrie Adolph was sent packing. She subsequently suggested her mandate to make changes ruffled feathers within the organization. In January, the Chamber elected an interim president, Jamie Cox. He was recently replaced by Mr. Highley.

The Chamber’s work to provide services to the business community was evidenced almost immediately this week with forwarded notice of a business waste reduction program offered through the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

The program, which encourages businesses to reduce their waste footprint, includes a call for applications for a free business waste audit.

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