Local chamber gets Midland's support as it works to help members

·3 min read

The Town of Midland is now a member of the Southern Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce.

The decision came out of a motion that came to the table following a deputation made by the chamber's general manage.

Cathy Tait gave council an overview of how the chamber has responded to member demands by improving its services and outreach.

“My mission has been to prove to our members that there's real value in membership,” she said. “We're entirely dependent on this revenue, without the events that we could do pre-COVID. We needed to make sure these members were receiving this value.”

One of the moves the chamber made to become more accessible to its members, was to move its office to the ground floor of the building, according to Tait.

“We have opened as a new business information session on the first level,” she said. “We are welcoming anyone in the community as well as members to distribute business cards and brochures. We're selling products for businesses.

“Our goal once COVID retreats will be to provide even more information and with our ideal location at the bottom of King Street, we're expecting a lot of visitor traffic,” said Tait. “This was important for visibility and accessibility in the community.”

During COVID, she said, the chamber introduced a number of virtual webinars and workshops around marketing, finance and social media.

“The webinars have been very well attended, especially in light of the COVID situation,” said Tait. “These workshops (which are free for everyone in the community) have been even more valuable than before because many of our retailers have gone online to sell.”

As well, she said, every Wednesday, the chamber shares on its social media a video message by a member.

“It's very relevant and grassroots,” said Tait. “These are our own business talking about how COVID has impacted them and how they've transformed to make sure they can still function.”

In an answer to Coun. Cher Cunningham’s question, Tait talked about the chamber’s e-newsletter.

“Our newsletter does go out to 1,000 people,” said Tait. “Town council should be receiving our e-newsletter and that's applicable to all four municipalities. They're not all members.”

During COVID, she added, several non-member businesses have reached out to the chamber to ask for help promoting their business.

“They were suffering,” said Tait. “We've done a lot of that over the last four months for non-members because how could we not.”

This move, she said, has encouraged businesses to sign up for the membership.

Hearing all this, Coun. Bill Gordon said it was a no-brainer for the town to buy a membership with the chamber.

“I don't need a sales pitch to know the value of chambers of commerce,” he said. “Businesses tend to take chambers and other services kind of for granted. It's hard for the new person coming in to change that opinion. It sounds like you're doing that.”

Deputy Mayor Mike Ross wanted to know if the chamber had any plans of collaborating with the Midland or if the town should consider an independent chamber.

“We're absolutely open to working with the BIA,” Tait said. “We're open to that partnership if something comes up. It's definitely on our radar. It hasn't been done to this point but there's no reason why it can't be.”

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com