Entrepreneurs won’t pay chamber fees this year

·2 min read

The Beaverlodge and Sexsmith chambers of commerce are waiving membership fees for businesses this year.

Both organizations are making the change to support local enterprise in 2021.

“Many business owners are feeling the crunch with reduced services or closures,” said Callie Balderston, Beaverlodge and District Chamber of Commerce president.

Balderston said the chamber board made the decision during its meeting last week to waive the fee for 2021.

The Beaverlodge chamber has approximately 75 members and it will also be free for other businesses to join this year, she said.

The fee was $100 annually, but the chamber has kept on budget in past years and is in a sound enough position to offer the waiver, she said.

Balderston said the chamber may consider whether certain expenses can be cut later in the year, while trying to continue supporting members.

The Beaverlodge chamber is doing well, with a growth of approximately two to three businesses per year, Balderston said.

The group was stable in 2020 but she noted events like the Christmas Craze had to be scaled back.

“It wasn’t our traditional Christmas Craze,” Balderston said.

Jennifer Caseley, Sexsmith and District Chamber of Commerce president, also informed members their fees are waived for 2021 via an email last week.

Membership fees varied. Businesses with under four employees paid $50 per year, while members with four to five paid $75, Caseley said. The fee for businesses with more than five employees was $100.

The waiver will likely cost the chamber between $4- and $5,000, but Caseley said the chamber will cope by drawing on its accounts and savings from fewer activities in 2020.

The chamber would typically hold in-person mixers with food, as well as rent space for meetings, she noted.

“The fee is a small thing for some companies … but for smaller organizations, that $50 is sometimes a make-or-break for whether they renew or not,” Caseley said.

“It was the right thing to do.”

Caseley said the Sexsmith chamber doesn’t have any financial difficulties, but it was a challenge to remain operational.

The chamber is a volunteer group and it was difficult to keep positions filled as entrepreneurs have to keep their own businesses going, she said.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News