Still in busi­ness

The Glengarry News - - News - BY RICHARD MA­HONEY News Staff

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.

Higher pro­file

“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.

RICHARD MA­HONEY PHO­TOS

RELIEF: Scott DaPrato, Phil Cloutier and Melodie Nei­derer are among the long-time directors who were seek­ing help.

James Tom­lin­son

Naval Gupta

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