Chamber looks to agricultural community

The Summerland Chamber of Economic Development and Tourism would like farmers, non-profit organizations and service clubs to join.

The Summerland Chamber of Economic Development and Tourism would like farmers, non-profit organizations and service clubs to become members.

The chamber is offering associate memberships for $50 a year and is hoping to attract more people and organizations as a result.

At present, businesses with valid business licenses are all under the chamber, unless they choose to opt out. As a result of the present membership structure, wineries are part of the chamber but vineyards and orchards, which do not require valid licenses, are not.

“Farming is one of the top five businesses in Summerland,” said Lisa Jaager, manager of the chamber. “It’s been one of our goals to bring agriculture under our umbrella.”

She said agriculture is an important part of the community, partly because of the value of agri-tourism in Summerland.

Jaager said the chamber likely would not form a sub-committee for the agricultural members. At present, the only sub-committees are a tourism committee and a downtown merchants’ committee.

“Our goal is not to separate out but to be inclusive,” she said.

Not-for-profit organizations which could join as associate members include the library, the Summerland Community Arts Centre, the IOOF Hall and the Summerland Museum. Penny Lane Bargain Outlet and the Summerland Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store are both full members of the chamber since they both have valid business licenses.

Jaager said the details of the associate memberships have not yet been determined. Full memberships remain limited to those with valid business licenses.

In addition to the associate memberships, the chamber is also offering corporate memberships to out-of-town businesses which have a connection to Summerland.

“We belong to a regional economy,” Jaager said. “We believe strongly in helping to promote the region.”

Under the existing chamber structure, the chamber receives $200,000 a year from the municipality.

This funding is not tied to the number of members in the chamber.

Jaager said the benefits for farmers and non-profit organizations include the chamber’s marketing and promotional efforts.