Still in business
The Alexandria and District Chamber of Commerce is still in business after coming close to calling it quits.
“We have a new vice-president, new blood and new ideas,” outgoing president Phil Cloutier said at the conclusion of last Tuesday’s annual meeting which was attended by 20 people, including 11 from the business community.
The board of directors had earlier issued an appeal for help, warning that there was a “very real risk” that the group would dissolve if more volunteers did not come forward.
At the end of the session, most of the current directors had agreed to serve another one-year term while James Tomlinson had been named vice-president. “I don’t mind staying on in a guiding role,” said Mr. Cloutier, who was completing his second year as president.
He added that he would devote most of his time to the Catch The Ace weekly draws. Mr. Cloutier cited Catch The Ace, which generated $16,476 in revenues last year, as motivation to keep the chamber alive.
“It is a good fundraiser and it’s good for the community. We need to have a board of directors to keep the lottery licence,” said Mr. Cloutier.
The focus of the meeting was the need to recruit new active members.
“It’s a struggle,” commented Mr. Cloutier, recalling that he became president two years ago because the chamber was also facing dissolution at that time. “We need participation,” he reiterated, noting that few of the 100 chamber members actually help out at activities.
“I can only give so much. I don’t have time to run up and down Main Street trying to get people to do things,” Mr. Cloutier stated.
“It’s deflating,” observed secretary-treasurer Melodie Neiderer, relating that she sends out 100 emails and receives only a few responses.
“We’re all exhausted,” she declared.
Ms. Neiderer recalled that when she joined a year ago, she was motivated. “A lot of wonderful ideas” would come up at meetings, but once people had left the room, “All of these ideas went up in smoke because there was nobody to implement them. Five or six out of 100 members show up at meetings. They pay a membership of $130 for two years and they couldn’t care less.”
Mr. Cloutier stressed, “We’re looking for relief at the top end.
Naval Gupta had offered office space on Main Street to help the chamber raise its profile.
The organization had to connect with young people by offering more than “boring meetings,” he observed.
“We need to involve the young blood,” said Mr. Gupta.
Mr. Cloutier agreed. “But we need a president and a vice-president now. The kids won’t do that.”
Mr. Tomlinson suggested that the chamber increase its online presence and work with other organizations to both promote the chamber and sound out members.
Other board members are Scott DaPrato, who had been vice-president, Melodie Neiderer, Pamela André, Danielle Duranceau, Nicole Bourbonnais, Kevin Vanden Oetelaar, Anne Leduc, Michael Madden and Naval Gupta.
Elaine Oetelaar has stepped down after several years on the board.
RELIEF: Scott DaPrato, Phil Cloutier and Melodie Neiderer are among the long-time directors who were seeking help.