ERIN – The Town of Erin is hoping a small financial boost can help revive the shuttered local chamber of commerce.
Earlier this year, councillors asked staff to look into the feasibility of supporting a relaunch of the Erin Chamber of Commerce.
On Tuesday, staff reported back with a recommendation that the town allocate up to $5,000 as "seed money" for the project. The funding would cover advertising and promotion leading up to a January relaunch, incorporation fees and miscellaneous founding meeting expenses.
Some councillors worried that amount of money wouldn't be enough to combat the lack of participation and leadership that lead to the closure of the original chamber several years ago. But CAO Nathan Hyde cautioned council the township is "not in the business of the private sector."
While many chambers of commerce have paid staff, their salaries are usually funded by membership fees, not public money, Hyde said.
Mayor Allan Alls was in favour of seeing staff's recommendation move forward.
"This is a baby step, and we'll see how it grows," Alls said. "And if there's no interest out there, then there's no reason why we should be wasting our time and energy."
Council approved the recommendation. In addition to advertising, staff will identify chamber of commerce board members over the next 90 days.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, council asked staff to prepare a report and bylaw regarding the Erin Village BIA.
Alls said the BIA currently has "no established formal executive" due to low membership and the township shouldn't be forwarding money to it "if they don't exist."
Staff should consult with local businesses about what they'd like to see going forward, Alls said. But personally, he could envision a scenario where the BIA would become a committee of the newly reinstated chamber of commerce, allowing the two organizations to work together, he continued.
Alison Sandstrom, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com