Published On: Monday, 05 June 2017
April Showers Brought May Flowers, More Showers, and the Chamber – Change
- Ken Bessason is the Interim Executive Director of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce. To find out more information about the organization please visit www.kelownachamber.org.
KELOWNA - The Chamber, along with many other businesses and residents, had an upbeat May, despite its building on Harvey Avenue being smack dab in the middle of the Regional District’s emergency flood watch map. Seeing our building in the midst of the purple highlighting on the map – and sandbags piled up across the lane behind the medical lab on Leon Street, brought home just how fluid (no pun intended) the emergency situation was throughout May in Kelowna.
Snow continued to fall in the mountains, and along the upper reaches of our creeks, and we all plan to stay on alert until at least mid-June when the flood danger begins to recede. The good news is the high snow pack means fewer water restrictions are likely in mid- and late-summer.
Even better news is that the Chamber’s search for a new Executive Director reached a happy conclusion with the announcement on May 4th that Dan Rogers is the new Executive Director of the Kelowna Chamber as of June 5th.
Dan has been filling the same role at the Greater Vernon Chamber since 2014, where he has overseen growth in membership; an active policy advocacy program; and an expansion of Chamber-partnered programs with members, and with other Chambers of Commerce in the valley and around the province.
Tom Dyas, the President of the Kelowna Chamber, made the announcement to staff, media and members, saying “The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has been searching for a permanent Executive Director since January. Two high-producing Managers, Lorraine McGrath, a financial expert who also lectures in entrepreneurship at Okanagan College, and Ken Bessason, a 35-year bank manager turned realtor, stepped into the chair for the Chamber. Both are Past Presidents of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.“
“Both our interim managers brought so much to our Chamber staff, to our board, and to our members,” said Dyas, on announcing Rogers’s appointment. “While our operational staff carried on with unstinting professionalism across their wide range of tasks, the interim managers emphasized stability and connection with the Board and wider business community. We’re extremely grateful to both Interim Directors for their generous contributions of time and effort.”
Both Interim Executive Directors, Rogers, and Dyas, competed in the Kelowna Chamber’s 32nd annual Golf Tournament May 31st at The Harvest Golf Club. For the second year in a row, the tournament sold out early in May, and the course was packed with 144 member- and non-member golfers, more than 25 sponsors, media, the charity of choice, KidSport, and was yet another great example of the impact the Chamber has on its active business community, where it will host over 70 events this year alone.
Of course, intersecting the activities of May was the provincial election. We spent the month looking forward to the final results after all the absentee and advance votes were counted. Tom Dyas, Chamber President, watched the election results with the same keen interest as hundreds of Chamber members.
“The BC Liberals have been identified as the most business-friendly party, and those interests were on display at our all-candidates panel, and at the Premier’s budget presentation to Chamber members at a February luncheon this year. But our Chamber of course remained neutral throughout the election, and will support the party forming the new government – at the time of writing, the BC Liberals, albeit a minority government.”
Dyas also points out, “There are positives in a minority government: issues will come to the fore, and our Chamber is well-positioned through our emphasis on member- and community-driven policy changes, to continue to work with elected officials on issues, and find solutions to these matters which are pertinent to our community and to our businesses. Co-operation will be paramount. We’re also waiting with keen interest for the final 2017 BC Budget, expected to be tabled soon.”
The Kelowna Chamber took four resolutions to the BC Chamber AGM at the end of May, as well as providing support to other Chambers’ policy efforts in pre-agreed support on several other initiatives. Among the Kelowna policies: rent control and fair taxation for credit unions.
June also brings the Business Excellence nomination process to a conclusion – the 30th annual awards in October of 2017 are predicted to the biggest ever for Kelowna’s adjudicated awards event. Finalists for ten separate awards will be announced in early September, and the adjudication process will be completed over the subsequent six weeks.
Will June bring a respite to the showers of spring? Almost definitely – but we’ll have to wait and see for sure. Meanwhile, we’ll wind up the winter Luncheon Series with an “IPO Bootcamp” luncheon in late June with The Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) and Accelerate Okanagan in a panel discussion about how to manage and fund start-ups. We’ll also look forward to just a touch of staff vacation downtime as our new Executive Director settles into his office at the end of the hall. High and dry, no sandbags required, we hope.
This is likely my last column as Interim Executive Director, as I make my way out onto the golf course, and make way for Dan Rogers to take over the helm. I’ve really enjoyed my redux relief with this great group of members, directors, and staff. I’ll miss everyone.