Chamber of Commerce tops the 300-member mark, looks to the future

By David F. Rooney

The Chamber of Commerce has just passed a milestone: it has signed up its 300th member.

That may not sound like much, but to John Devitt, the Chamber’s executive director, it’s a sign of faith new businesses have in the organization’s viability and its future. That’s particularly true when yo consider that the business organization has, according to Devitt, gained about 30 per cent of that membership in the last 18 months or so. Now, as the Chamber prepares to elect a new board of directors on Nov. 18, he hopes it will be an organization that actively plans for the future.

“There’s a certain amount of planning fatigue in town,” he said in an interview Monday. “But long-term planning is necessary if you want to mold the future to your liking.”

With the exception of a Tourism Development Plan that was unveiled about five years ago there has been little long-term strategizing at the Chamber. Most of its plans have, until now, been of the year-to-year variety and that just doesn’t allow the setting and realization of long-term goals.

However, that could change with the new board, which Devitt hopes will be “leadership-focused and progressive.”

The Chamber has traditionally had five major focal points for its activities:

  1. advocacy for business;
  2. promotion of tourism and visitors’ services;
  3. community improvement;
  4. members’ services; and
  5. economic development.

“Those won’t change and we’ll still play a leadership role in town but we need to know what else we can do,” he said. “I’d like to build a higher profile for the Chamber within the community. I believe it will pay off for us in many ways. I’d also like to see people, in and out of business, look at us and say, ‘You’re not really in business unless you’re a member of the Chamber.'”

But that kind of public perception won’t come about without some significant soul-searching and an ability to really peer into the future with a sense of where it is going.

Towards that end, Devitt says the Chamber needs serious input.

“I’m interested in hearing from our members and your readers,” he said. “What do they want to see from the Chamber in 2010 and beyond?”

If you have some thoughts on this, you can send them to John Devitt at the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce at Because this is a discussion that would be of interest to the winder community you can also post your comments on The Revelstoke Current or send them to