South Okanagan Chamber adds two new directors to its board following its annual general meeting

The South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce just got a little stronger.

On Friday January 20, two new directors were accepted on the board following an election of officers at the chamber’s annual general meeting in the foyer of Frank Venables Theatre.

Veronica Vinge and Alberto Veintimilla were nominated after a discussion about the board needing 11 members (instead of nine) to meet the requirements set out by the Boards of Trade Act, which governs the chamber.

Vinge is a business coach and management consultant with ABV Squared Inc. in the South Okanagan.

Veintimilla is a local businessman who, with his wife Tracy, owns Alberto’s Decorating Centre and Underfoot Flooring. Years ago he served on the Oliver Chamber of Commerce and continues to support and promote business growth in the South Okanagan.

The remaining executive consists of Peter McKenna (Oliver Legion), Mike Campol (Spirit Ridge Owners’ Association), Deanie Foley Gillespie (Indigo Ridge Farm), Chad Dambrowitz (Osoyoos Signs), Doug Lamb (retired banker), Eileen McGinn (Remax Realty, Osoyoos), Sara Amos (Century 21 Realty), Brian Highley (Aberdeen Publishing), and Jamie Cox (Gallagher Lake Resort).

Cox, interim president of the chamber, heaped much praise on all of the directors and the diversity and expertise they offer.

He noted that, after listening to some of the directors, he has changed his thinking on some issues.

Cox also singled out Executive Director Denise Blashko for moving things forward and working hard on the chamber’s new website (www.sochamber.ca)

Cox, who has worked in the resort industry for 32 years, said he is “blown away” by the opportunities in the South Okanagan.

He invited everyone to join the chamber at its next coffee meeting on Feb. 19 at Fairview Mountain Golf Club.

“They (the meetings) are extremely educational,” he said, noting the last one in Osoyoos attracted 45 people.

Blashko talked about the website, saying their “hits” have tripled, with more people enquiring about investment opportunities and business relocation.

McGinn noted that the website is a good tool to promote your business, and encouraged people to contact Blashko for assistance.

In his address, Cox said there is a struggle to find skilled labour in BC, but noted the three strongest growth industries in the province are tourism, film and technology.

He referred to the last film shot in the South Okanagan (The Humanity Bureau), noting that the chamber can be a “fantastic conduit” for the film industry here.

The same company that produced The Humanity Bureau, Mind’s Eye Entertainment out of Regina, has already committed to shooting four more full-length movies in the Okanagan Valley over the next two years and hinted strongly it will be looking to return to Osoyoos and Oliver for those films.

Mind’s Eye recently finished shooting another science fiction thriller called The Recall starring Wesley Snipes.

During question period, Osoyoos town councillor Jim King asked how the chamber will “fill the void” after transferring the Festival of the Grape (FOG) operation to the Oliver Tourism Association.

Dambrowitz said they will see some revenue from the next FOG, but the chamber will be relying on its business excellence awards and will be “growing” a new event and having more social/training functions.

Blashko reported that the chamber has applied for funding to allow them to hire a consultant to do a feasibility study on business retention in rural communities.

Another discussion focused on the chamber updating some of its bylaws to comply with the Boards of Trade Act.

“There are only a few not in compliance,” Blashko said.

The other issue is the chamber must have a minimum of 11 board members to comply with the Act. That was quickly resolved after the election of officers.

The chamber’s income statement shows total revenue of $198,893.06. Total expenses are $195,970.37, leaving a net income of $2,922.69.

The SOCC represents the business interests of hundreds of businesses that are located in Osoyoos, Oliver and Okanagan Falls.

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