LARRY VAUGHAN/Special to Bullet News
Over the course of the last few years I have heard many interesting rumours in relation to the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce and their ability or inability to manage themselves – never mind the opportunities that they provide to our local businesses.
Next month one of the main, vocal forces will be leaving the Chamber Family, but not going far I’m sure. With the announcement that Carolyn Bones, the president of the Niagara Falls Chamber, has taken a position with the Realtors Association; there has been talk that Niagara Falls will become part of the St. Catharines Chamber of Commerce. Some of you may know it as the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce.
With all of the Chambers meeting regularly at the Working Together for a Stronger Niagara Coalition, there really isn’t room for a second regional chamber, nor should there be.
The WTSN group has been an active group now for the last four or five years and the St Catharines Chamber is an active participant. So why all of the fuss? Actually, this droning vocalization of a second Regional Chamber has only caused confusion in the region and in the business community.
I know that through all of their presentations at the local Chambers there were two strong messages that were being delivered. They told us they could help us work better, and they promised charters would be returned if we were dissatisfied.
Well, although there is some merit in the theory of economies of scale, the presentation was so bad the message was simply lost in struggle for control. The issue of getting charters back is being fought out right now in Thorold.
With the majority of the Thorold businesses siding with the Greater Thorold Business Council, the GNCC still refuses to return the charter. So the businesses in Thorold go on without. What really baffles me is that the GNCC is considering opening an office here in Niagara Falls.
It’s unfortunate that they didn’t consider moving their present office to Thorold and supporting that community better. Instead they will chose the more confusing and controversial approach.
Although, the St Catharines group claims to have over 1,000 members and says it is the largest Chamber in the Region, I would rather consider the size of the other Chambers at the WTFN table, where almost 3,000 businesses represented. Why would I want to be a little voice in the wind on the good ship GNCC that has already sailed into the sunset?
Yes, Carolyn Bones has left the Niagara Falls Chamber and we wish her and her new husband all of the best of luck that life can offer. Like the presidents who have come before her since the Chamber’s inception in 1889, she too has had the best interests of the business community at heart. I am sure that her successor will come to work each day and ensure our fine institution continues to grow and represent the needs of business here in Niagara Falls.
Larry Vaughan is vice-chairman of the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce.