By Frank Bucholtz/Special to Langley Advance Times
There is much more to being a member of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce than gathering for meetings.
In fact, there are a great number of benefits that makes chamber membership attractive to businesses and non-profits – both large and small. And, the chamber is always looking to enhance the benefits, as its primary role is to support the business community, said CEO Cory Redekop.
“A key resource we provide is awareness,” he explained. “Are you aware of this funding envelope, these road closures, grants and funding, credit card refunds and PST rebates? These put dollars on the table for businesses.”
The PST rebate is a good example. Chris Dyck, a partner at Avisar, a North Langley accounting firm, worked with the chamber to provide a simple video explaining the PST rebate, who was eligible, and how to apply for it.
Dyck said this program was not widely known, but was one of the measures provided by the province in its response to COVID-19.
“It is very worthwhile to provide that information, and I was happy to do it,” Dyck said.
Credit card fee refunds are another way businesses can get funds that they have already paid out. A class-action suit against credit card companies resulted in a settlement that can see businesses get some money back for transactions between 2001 and 2021. The chamber also persistently pushes for a lowering of the processing fees paid by small businesses.
Dyck said small businesses are often overwhelmed by the complexity of paperwork they must fill out, and constantly-changing rules.
“For non-accountants to try and keep up – I would be frightened. It is challenging enough for accountants.”
Avisar has been a chamber member for 20 years and specializes in providing advice to entrepreneurs and all types of businesses. The firm has, for the past two years, sponsored the chamber’s October dinner meeting – during small business month. That has helped him make some good contacts and led to business opportunities, and also provided important information to business owners and operators.
Dyck said being connected with the chamber has been a definite benefit for his company – on many fronts.
There are also many other benefits to being part of the chamber, Redekop added.
The chamber group benefits plan is a service that many members use. The CEO describes it as “the number one plan of its kind in the country.”
It provides benefits for employees of small businesses that would otherwise by difficult to obtain. This can help business owners to retain staff.
The chamber also offers discounts at participating businesses.
Plus, it hosts an impressive variety of seminars, both in-person and online, as well as regular monthly meetings in the evenings and networking sessions in the mornings. One recent round-table event offered a way for businesses to find out more about connecting with recent immigrants to Canada in order to help alleviate labour shortages – which has been a persistent problem for several years.
The chamber also organizes business mixer social events for members to get to know one another and find out more about a host local business. One is planned for Wednesday, Feb. 15 at the Barley Room Taproom and Kitchen.
The chamber uses its social media channels, website, and member directory to help local businesses connect with other chamber members.
This type of referral is very helpful, as it comes as a recommendation from a trusted source, said Redekop.
A survey conducted in 2022 showed that 81 per cent of members surveyed prefer to do business with other chamber members.
“We are trying to grow use of our channels by members,” he noted.
New members and those renewing their memberships have the opportunity to spotlight their business in the weekly newsletter, update their profiles and refer new members to receive $25 gift cards in return.
Membership also gives members opportunities to advocate for needed changes to government programs and policies (see separate story, page B3). Members can identify issues they run into and take those to chamber staff, directors, and the government relations committee. This has been identified by members as a top priority for the Langley chamber and it takes many forms.
The strong rate of membership renewals and continued interest in joining the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce shows that many members of the business community appreciate all the benefits of being part of a vibrant business organization.
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