New recruits

The 2017-18 Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Chamber of commerce welcomes new board

October 12 was a big day for the newest board of the Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce.

The newly elected and appointed members stood shoulder-to-shoulder on stage at Plaza 88. Police chief and master of ceremonies Troy Cooper stood off to one side, ready to swear in the newest leadership group.

“Do you swear to faithfully and truthfully perform your duties as a member of the board of directors of the Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce, and will in all matters connected with the discharge of such duties, do such things and such things only as you shall truly and conscientiously believe to be adaptive to promote the objects for which said chamber was constituted according to the true intent and meeting of the same, so help you god.”

Cooper placed extra emphasis on the “so help you god.”

He was met by a mix of “I do” and “yes,” spoken, proclaimed and mumbled by the men and women on stage.

Cooper turned to the face the audience, seated at their tables.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “Your board of directors!”

There was applause, loud and excited, yet polite and controlled. The newly-minted board members walked back to their seats, except for Meghan Mayer. The proprietor of Salon Six and of Plaza 88 walked instead to the podium to deliver her first speech as chair.
Salon Six has only been around for seven years. Mayer was hesitant about joining the chamber when she got started. Those hesitations, she learned, were misplaced.

“I was young, and thought I didn’t know if I had the experience to do this, or if I could bring anything to the table,” Mayer said.

Seeking advice, Mayer called her dad. A minister and long-time business owner, her dad’s advice was to go for it.

“He said, ‘let me tell you this,’” Mayer recalled. “’The chamber in every city is so important. They’re advocates for business, they’re always looking for business development, how they can help businesses and business growth, they’re looking into government affairs, city affairs, they’re so important. There’s even stuff that goes on behind the scenes that you don’t know they’re working on. If you get a chance to sit on a board like that, it’s an honour.”

Mayer took his advice. It proved a valuable experience.

“I’ve learned so much. It was a huge learning curve to come on the board. I had to learn quickly and try to keep up,” Mayer said.

“One thing I did know, and I learned quickly, is the Chamber of Commerce did fight for business, they did care about the community and business growth and development. Like my father said, to sit on a board like that is an honour, and this tonight is an honour. I will, to the best of my ability, serve businesses and serve the community. I will work with the city police and the city itself.”

Thursday night’s swearing in was when Mayer and her fellow board members officially began their positions, and their work, as members of the board of directors for the chamber.

Along with Mayer, the chamber will be led by first vice chair Ian Litzenberger, second vice chair Jason Hurd, Secretary/treasurer Phil Hounjet, past chair Gordon Jahn and board-appointed director Robert Bratvold.

They will be joined on the board by Tracy Feher, Tom Seidenthal, Bill Powalinsky, Clayton Clark, Wesley Moore, Terry Dow and Tim Leson.

While their jobs have just begun, the board has a lot they can build upon.

Prior to the swearing-in, now past chair Gordon Jahn spoke about what the chamber has done over the past year.

“There have been numerous communications, contacts, meetings, events, emails, networking lunches — everyone of those things is meant to bring value to our members,” he said.

“In addition to events and networking opportunities, advocacy for the business community provinces members with value. Our chamber continues to be a strong voice for business within our community.”

Jahn said the board has advocated for policies to make the city more competitive and attractive to businesses. He mentioned the city’s high tax gap- the difference between property taxes for residents and those for business, something the chamber has been working hard to narrow.

“I think we’ve seen some progress,” Jahn said. “I’d like to think we’ve had some influence with our council and with our city administration, building respectful relationships and having respectful discussions, hopefully accomplishing some movement in metrics like that.”

The advocacy work is something Mayer takes seriously, and hopes to continue through her term.

“I would hope to work with the city in doing more business development, like the city has already been doing with the (new luxury hotel), but also getting tax rates lower and maybe a business incentive for new businesses coming into Prince Albert,” she said.

Mayer knows there’s a lot to learn as chair over the next few weeks. But she’ll have support, both from long-time board members and from chamber staff, such as CEO Larry Fladager, a former chair himself.

“We’ve begun the process with our new board members, and we have a great mix of members from a broad variety of business backgrounds,” he said.

“In the next few months, we’re going to do a lot of work around planning some of the things we’re going to do to add value to our membership base. I’m so pleased to be engaged in that process with them.”

Mayer is excited about what the next year holds for her as chair. She’s pleased to be able to serve her community in a new way.

“This city has an amazing group of business leaders,” she said. “It is amazing to be able to serve the community and serve businesses in Prince Albert. It feels awesome.”

This article originally appeared in the October 14 print and e-edition of the Prince Albert Daily Herald.