Year-End Reflection On Kelowna Chamber’s Busiest One Yet

December 17, 2015

KELOWNA – It’s now late November – getting colder in the mountains (great news for our ski and sport retail members) – signaling that it’s time for us to reflect, plan, identify our shortfalls, celebrate our wins and prepare for those few precious moments of pause in late December before we hit the play button again.

2015: The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is declaring this year our most successful year, ever. There are a number of factors that build up that statement. Our members. Never in our history have we had more members, and more members joining. And, do they ever display a high degree of commitment to business excellence and community support! Every day, I comment on the diversity of businesses joining the Chamber, and the ways they stretch us to grow and work together to create business solutions.

Another compelling proof that this has been our best year ever? Recognition from our colleagues, across the province, and across the country. Our Chamber networks are absolutely buzzing with questions, solutions, webinars, and the occasional award: notably in our case, BC Chamber of the Year. What an honour! And, the highest nominee count ever for our prestigious Business Excellence Awards, given out in October.

Learning. I’ve learned so much this year, particularly about the opportunities in Canada’s resource-based industries. I’ve been on trips to the oil sands, to see the pipeline operations along the coast of BC– and have become a follower of Resource Works, to stay up to date on the province’s resource sectors.

I’m a huge proponent of responsible development, job creation, and the maintenance of a clean and healthy environment.

Identifying shortfalls should always be part of any look-back-and-plan-forward. What do I see? The need for speed – getting planned strategies into place faster, so the evolution and solution of what the plan is meant to fix, is done within a timeframe that delivers needed results, sooner. Actually, all the “shortfalls” are really centered around working with limited staff and resources – a familiar theme for so many of our businesses, small, medium and large. And like a lot of shortcomings, many of them are in my head, based on the perception that we need to be further ahead than we are – yet we are in a really strong, productive position. So perhaps learning to accept where we are while pushing forward is the most sensible plan to make right now.

Looking ahead, the Chamber is examining its branding. We realize that in this communications saturated world, we require a continuity of message, of look, and mission in everything we do. We’re hyper-critical of our own communications, and are spending time late this year, and more time next
year, in ensuring that what we look like to our audience, and how we are perceived has a strength and consistency that will reflect our very best face to our internal and external audiences.

As we look into our roster of speakers in our first quarter of 2016, we see MLAs, MPs (one new), our Mayor (new last year), and our Premier presenting our provincial budget. 2016 also brings a trip to Kelowna’s sister city in Japan, in cherry blossom time, which is sold out, and an exciting excursion in the
summer to Haida Gwai.

In the second quarter, we’ll host the province-wide BC Chamber annual convention and reception for attendees right here in Kelowna. If our hosting the national Chamber convention 18 months ago is anything to go by (yes, delegates are still talking about the party we threw for them), the provincial celebration will be another landmark.

A strong membership; a strong board; a supportive and knowledgeable staff – if the term ‘count your blessings’ is appropriate at this time of year, then, yes, I am doing that. But I’m also looking around the corner at 2016, and seeing excitement, learning, involvement, advocacy, and pretty much thinking “I have the best job in the world, right now, right here in this place, Kelowna.”

– Caroline Grover is the CEO of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached by email at

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