With input from expert voices, and reflecting on a busy 2017 while looking ahead at a hectic 2018, the Estevan Chamber of Commerce's Annual General Meeting was called to order on Wednesday in the basement of the Western Star Hotel.
"The Chamber is in a good state at the moment, " said outgoing President John Williams afterwards, "What's fascinating is how the Chamber has changed over the 6-7 years that I've been on the Board. We were trying to do a lot of stuff that really we shouldn't have been involved in. Now, it's moved on to much more strategic, bigger decisions such as the future of coal, what's going on with SaskPower and Westmoreland, things that have far reaching implications for the community.
"The Board is fully engaged, it takes a lot of time now to sit and debate and understand what our community and our membership are looking for, and making sure we present that position as best as possible, both provincially and federally."
"The Chamber staff and Board have been really focused on making sure that we are aligning our mission and our vision with what the membership wants, and that is going to be key over the next two years," added Executive Director Jackie Wall in gazing back at the previous 12 months.
"We also want to focus on expertise in our community. We have a lot of business people who have been in business for a long time, or even new to business. Getting those ideas and experiences and that knowledge together is what we really want to focus on in the upcoming couple of years."
This was put into practice at the meeting as, following the installation of the 2018 Board of Directors, a panel of local business leaders from the community was pulled together to share some of their sage wisdom to their peers at the event, as well as impart some advice to those wanting to improve. The voices given a seat at the front of the room included Brady Johnson of Encompass Fitness, Jeff Pierson of Days Inn, Ron Areshenkoff of Spectra Financial, Ed Turnbull of Turnbull Excavating, Jim Wilson of Wil-Tech Industries, Joe Billesberger of B&S Construction and Prairie Sky Kitchens, and Laurel Buck of A & A Jewellery.
In her own address to those in attendance, Wall noted that one of the major priorities for the past year, and for the year to come, is advocacy and lobbying on some of the issues impacting the Energy City's business community.
"I think that came out of some huge announcements, federally regarding tax and also the assessment issue. We did our best to address that, and that got a lot of support and great feedback, so we will be looking at making sure we are on top of the advocacy and lobbying," she said.
And Wall was putting action to her words not too long after, as she was headed up to Regina that evening to the 'Chair's Invitational Dinner', a forum for Sask Chamber members to pose the tough questions to provincial leaders, often including the Premier.
The title of President also changed hands at the meeting, as Board member Cathy Welta-Eagles took over the reigns from John Williams and presented the closing remarks.