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Chamber enters transitional phase

Chamber membership emphasized by new director
Estevan Chamber, Jackie Wall
The Estevan Chamber of Commerce's executive director Jackie Wall. File photo

The Estevan Chamber of Commerce is entering a transitional phase, but that isn't stopping them from building upon their strong client base. 

The Chamber's recently appointed executive director, Jackie Wall, who replaced former chamber executive director Michel Cyrenne on June 15, (a position that remained vacant for nearly a year until Wall's arrival) said her initial focus for the next couple of months will be to come up with a five-year strategic plan heading into 2016. 

"The current one is winding down, so my top priority is getting feedback from our members and really encourage businesses and organizations to meet with me," Wall said in an interview with the Mercury. "Right now, it's a huge transitional phase getting the daily operations transitioned back into this role." 

As the new executive director, Wall said she will be focusing heavily on maintaining strong ties with local businesses while developing new ones with upcoming entrepreneurs who may be unfamiliar with the Chamber's services. 

Wall said the Chamber acts as a strong voice for the business community on a municipal, provincial and federal level, adding the Chamber is often the first touch point for businesses looking to open up shop in Estevan. The Estevan Chamber of Commerce is part of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, and has access to a wide network of business connections and statistical information. In addition, Wall said one of the most important aspects of the Chamber is the benefits it can offer smaller businesses. 

"It goes as far as a farmer with a couple of farm workers helping him out. Once they are a member of the Chamber, they can get benefits," she said. 

The Chamber's current client base is strong and numbers are steadily increasing, Wall said, but as the New Year approaches, she hopes those numbers grow exponentially. 

"I would really like that to be a priority," she said. 

Another area that has been open to changes within the Chamber is the handling of economic development and tourism duties for the City of Estevan, both of which were previously contracted to the Chamber. 

Outgoing Chamber president Ken Rowan hinted at a possible shift in responsibilities in an interview with the Mercury back in March, noting the City was looking to retain those duties, but according to Wall, those positions continue to remain with the Chamber. 

Wall's integration with the Chamber was a long process, she said, but she's excited to work closely with the men and women who thrive, or are looking to thrive, in the Energy City. 

"Business has always been a big passion for me," she said, while highlighting her previous experiences working as a small business owner, which spanned from a farm to an office environment. "I've seen businesses from a wide perspective, and I'm hoping I can bring that to this role and really look at, not only what the membership needs from the Chamber, but segment that into the different needs in the area."