Tammy Leslie, president of the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce, has lobbied about federal tax changes on behalf of small businesses. (Chronicle file photo)

Tammy Leslie, president of the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce, has lobbied about federal tax changes on behalf of small businesses. (Chronicle file photo)

Here’s what the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce does for you

Chamber of Commerce Week is February 18 to 22

Gerry Beltgens Special to the Chronicle

What has the chamber of commerce done for you recently?

That may depend on where you work. It may depend on what you do for fun. It may have to do with where you travel or how much tax you pay.

Ladysmith and District Chamber of Commerce President Tammy Leslie, of the accounting firm Palmer Leslie, joined because she believes in the principles of the chamber.

“The chamber is there to advocate for me if I have an issue. They provide educational opportunities, they support local economic development, they ensure that the business community of Ladysmith can thrive and this creates a better economic climate that benefits all residents,” said Leslie. “This is important to my clients and my business.”

The Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce has been active in Ladysmith since 1930, longer than the BC Chamber of Commerce itself. The Ladysmith Chamber is a part of the Provincial Chamber and of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The “CofC” is the voice of business at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.

Some people confuse the chamber with the Ladysmith Downtown Business Association. These are separate but supporting organizations and each have their own role to play in supporting business in the community. The LDBA works with its members to generate business in the downtown and Coronation Mall areas. The chamber acts as a voice for business at multiple levels of government and presents its concerns to the appropriate level of government, advocates for its members, recommends policies, influences legislation that impacts business. Most businesses in Ladysmith belong to both the chamber of commerce and the LDBA.

Recently, the Ladysmith chamber lobbied against new fishing regulations that would impact as many as 6,100 jobs in commercial and recreational fishing. It also presented a brief regarding derelict and abandoned vessels in Ladysmith harbour to the BC Chamber of Commerce. It was approved and will be forwarded to the federal government. When the provincial government launched the new speculation tax on second homes the chamber worked hard to clarify and mitigate its impact.

The Ladysmith chamber works with other Cowichan Valley chambers to address issues that affect the entire valley. It is involved in economic development and participates in a committee of regional stakeholders including the Town of Ladysmith, the CVRD, the LDBA, the Nanaimo Airport Authority, Stz’uminus First Nation and Community Futures.

It is involved in the Walking Tour App, the development of online investment and resident attraction, the development of events and the promotion of commercial areas.

The chamber serves as the local tourist information centre from its location on Roberts Street. Tourism is an important economic driver and it is the business of the chamber to promote and market the town. The Information Centre hosted approximately 8,000 visitors during the summer of 2108.

Ladysmith is a member of the provincial and federal chambers of commerce. One of the tasks of the BC chamber is to ensure that taxes on business at each level remain fair and equitable. The BC Chamber works with the provincial government on post secondary training to ensure that an educated workforce is available and that training opportunities are accessible to members of the public.

It may be easy to understand the value of a local Chamber of Commerce when you are operating a business, but its supporters say all residents benefit from a healthy business climate.

“When business is successful the community succeeds. For example, our citizens and particularly our youth have meaningful jobs, our sports teams and social service agencies have sponsors and donors, and there is an upbeat ambiance and vibrancy that comes with a successful business community,” said Mark Drysdale, the Ladysmith chamber’s executive director.

Upcoming events for Chamber Week include A “Business Mixer” on February 19 and a “Lunch & Learn” on Feb 21. For more information please visit www.ladysmithcofc.com.

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