Richmond chamber advocates for local businesses

Richmond Chamber of Commerce’s Shelby So (from left), Carol Young, Lorna Sandiko and Shaena Furlong are among the familiar faces at the chamber seen during events throughout the year. -
Richmond Chamber of Commerce’s Shelby So (from left), Carol Young, Lorna Sandiko and Shaena Furlong are among the familiar faces at the chamber seen during events throughout the year.
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Finance minister Michael de Jong will be in Richmond next Friday, Feb. 22 during a Richmond Chamber of Commerce presentation at the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel on Cessna Drive on Sea Island.

de Jong will be giving a keynote speech about the provincial budget and the impact it will have on British Columbians and the economy.

Chamber spokesperson Matt Pitcairn said he feels issues such as the provincial budget are of extreme importance to many chamber members.

Richmond Chamber of Commerce board chair Barry Grabowski said the chamber has been fortunate to host either the minister of finance or the premier with a post-budget speech every year since 2002.

“The provincial budget is extremely important, affecting all British Columbians, including businesses.  The government in its most recent throne speech committed itself to a balanced budget. In order to accomplish this, it is likely that some difficult decisions will be included in the budget,” Grabowski said.

He said all business owners and local residents need to be aware of the budget and how it might affect their business and community.

“The budget luncheon will be an opportunity to get better informed and I encourage our members and the community to attend,” Grabowski said.

Registration for the lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., with the luncheon starting at noon, and winding up around 1:30 p.m.

With more than 1,100 members, the Richmond Chamber of Commerce serves as a “strong advocate on behalf of the business community,” Pitcairn said. Whether it’s municipal, provincial or federal issues, the chamber provides a louder voice for local business.

One of the issues the chamber is addressing is mobile business licences, which allows a business to obtain just a single licence that would be valid in numerous participating muncipalities.

The province has set up the framework for the mobile licence system that ultimately reduces administration, increases compliance and allows businesses to operate in the broader region.

Pitcairn said the chamber provides a lot of value to businesses.

Business owners have a chance to network during chamber-organized events, and the chamber promotes buying locally, which keeps money flowing through the community.

Chamber members are also encouraged to do business with other chamber members, and to provide discounts and deals to other members.

Becoming a member of the chamber can cost as little as a few hundred dollars for a small business, up to a little over $1,000 for multi-national corporations.

Members have access to the chamber’s affinity program, and exclusive discounts on everyday business needs, from stationary products, to group insurance plans, to shipping and merchant services.

Taking advantage of these programs goes a long way in offseting the cost of membership in the chamber.

“We feel the cost of membership is very reasonable for the return you get,” Pitcairn said.

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