Summerland Chamber’s year in review

As 2013 winds down, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about some of the Summerland Chamber highlights of the past year.

As 2013 winds down, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about some of the Summerland Chamber highlights of the past year, focusing on the key areas where the chamber works in tourism, member services, business retention and attraction.

Following the launch of Summerland’s new tourism logo, the chamber released the redesigned Visitor Guide for Summerland.

We increased our investment in our image bank and these large, stunning new images of attractions and experiences around the community populated the new guide.

A total of 35,000 of these guides were delivered to visitor centres and other locations around the province to promote the community.

The Visitor Centre welcomed more than 11,000 people in 2013. Visitor numbers this past summer were up significantly in July and August and averaged more than 50 per cent increases over 2012 in both September and October.

The annual Business and Community Excellence Awards were held in February, and included two new awards categories to honour Sustainability Leadership and Technology and Innovation.

The chamber will be hosting the awards again on Feb. 22, 2014, so mark your calendars.

Throughout the year, the chamber has been working hard to reach out to members and talk about local business and initiatives, and staff have also improved our online business directory.

Improvements to our technology are ongoing.

In the early spring tourism in Summerland will have a new website of its own, distinct from the chamber’s business site.

This will allow us greater scope to market our community to visitors.

A redesigned chamber site will also allow us to enhance our services to members.

In September the chamber was awarded the 2013 BC Chamber Executives Communications Award for Chambers over 500 members.

In October the Chamber celebrated Small Business Week with a number of events, including inspirational speaker, Ryan Walter, and two education events led by Allison Markin on the topic of social media.

The 26th annual Festival of Lights got its own dedicated website in 2013 and in the month of November there were nearly 12,000 visits to the site.

Highlights of the festival this year included multiple street performers, new food vendors and a fantastic new stage which allowed us to provide a much larger performance area.

The Chamber has advocated on behalf of our members on issues that affect business.

In the past year, this included issues surrounding new recycling regulations, the elimination of school tax credit for light manufacturers, the provincial budget consultation and a return of the business vote.

Chamber staff are nearing completion on an updated business information and relocation package for Summerland which will provide businesses and individuals with comprehensive information about moving to and living in our community and the opportunities and amenities that we have available.

We are partnering with the District of Summerland on new tourism and economic development videos which will also enhance these efforts.

The chamber appreciates the opportunity to work collaboratively on a number of these initiatives with the District of Summerland.

Our partnership network has also expanded this year to include others in our South Okanagan region such as Tourism Penticton and Penticton and Okanagan Falls Economic Development offices.

We want to continue to work together on projects that promote our town and our region wherever we can.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at  president@summerlandchamber.com or Christine Petkau at  manager@summerlandchamber.com.

Arlene Fenrich is President of the Summerland Chamber of Economic Development and Tourism.