The importance of participation

Only 58 businesses cast ballots for the Summerland Chamber of Economic Development and Tourism board election.

The Summerland Chamber is a member-based organization. We are comprised of every single business license holder in Summerland, plus community groups and regional businesses. We are a large lobby group of 700 plus voices. We have the opportunity to make change happen.

Over the past weeks, regular readers of the Summerland Review will have read about the Annual General Meeting of the chamber and the low voter turnout. Only 58 businesses cast ballots and participated in the election of a new board of directors.

Both our large membership and our low voter turn-out leads me to consider the importance of participation. Typically, in the business world, we hear about how “greed is good” and it is a “dog-eat-dog” world but nothing could be further from reality.

To have a successful business in a town such as Summerland, or anywhere if the “experts” are to be believed, you need to create partnerships, make connections and build bridges.  Your chamber presents you with those opportunities on a regular basis.

Last week, A&A Mini Storage and Wine Cellar hosted a Business After Business. A Business After Business is where, once a month, people who own, manage, work at or for a member business (remember, that is all of the businesses in Summerland) come together to talk, catch up, share news or events, eat, laugh and drink. It is a powerful tool in becoming connected to the community, and to supporting local.

At A&A Mini Storage and Wine Cellar, Lorraine and Cy, with the help of Kim Lawton of DogLeg Marketing and Business Solutions, created an opportunity to prove the validity of connections as a business tool.  As part of the Business After Business, Lorraine built, with the help and support of local Summerland businesses, a goodie bag for each guest. These were not your regular party prizes. They were filled with Summerland connections.

Why is this important?  Those goodie bags were both practical and symbolic. The practical includes low cost and direct marketing for the businesses who participated, an incentive for guests to support local business and services, and it was fun to receive. The symbolic is the power of community working together for success.

The Business After Business had great participation with over 60 people attending, sharing, talking and making connections. Who knows where those connections will lead? Did we learn about a business that we didn’t know was in Summerland, did we find a way to partner with someone different, did we exchange information with a potential supplier or distributor, and did we find a new customer? All of that happens, regularly, at a Business After Business when there is participation. The more businesses that participate, the more connections are made. The more we work at it, the more it leads us to new work.

The Business After Business is an opportunity for every business in Summerland: trades, retail, manufacturing, tourism, home-based, agriculture, health care, public service. Everyone.

Come out to the next Business After Business on April 17 at Avery Law Office, 5 to 7 p.m.  Details at or follow us on Facebook  (Summerland Chamber.)

Lisa Jaager is the manager of the Summerland Chamber.


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