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Paris and District Chamber of Commerce focusing on collaboration

Local NewsParis and District Chamber of Commerce focusing on collaboration

Several members of the Paris and District Chamber of Commerce attended a members update meeting in the community lounge at the Paris Community Church, also known as #ForParis Centre, on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.

Before the meeting started, members enjoyed a light lunch from the Raw Carrot, including an option of three different house-made soups and a slice of carrot cake for dessert.

Following lunch, Sherri Barna, President of the Chamber, kicked off the meeting with member introductions and Chamber board updates.

“Last year when I became President, I was thinking about what I wanted my goal to be for 2024 and the word that I kept coming back to was ‘collaboration,’ and this ended up having a two-fold meaning,” said Barna.

She said that the first was to collaborate with organizations in the community.

“…Who has heard of the term ‘collaboration of competition?’ It’s in every single female entrepreneur circle but we’re taking it to heart,” she said. “[Sue and I] have been meeting with anyone and any organization who will say yes to us. We are trying to collaborate with our community. Why? Because we want to build Brant County and make it a prosperous place, and we want to help you all in your personal and professional lives, to do this.”

The second meaning for the word was in respect to collaborating with Chamber members.

“We want to help you, tell us how we can help you. Think about our next year too and let us know, because we’re here to build you all up. How can we do that? Well, we have a ton going on, tons of events, lots of opportunities and lots of planning but we need your help,” said Barna. “…We have a ton to do, and we are very passionate about it, but our board is very small and so we need to rely on you. So, whatever your natural giftings or skill set is, think about that and let us know where you could plug in.”

Paris and District Chamber of Commerce members listen in as Dave Legere, Treasurer of the Chamber, gives an update during the members update meeting on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.

Chamber chairpersons then spoke about the work they’ve been doing on behalf of their members.

Wes Mik, Vice President for the Paris and District Chamber of Commerce, spoke about his work with the Advocacy committee, while Barna spoke about her work within the Marketing Committee.

Brad Hunter, Membership Chair for the Chamber, then provided updates in regards to their Membership Committee, stating that membership numbers are on the rise. Dave Legere, Treasurer of the Chamber, also gave a brief report on current venture work.

Following the board members’ latest information, Councillor John Bell stepped in for Councillor Lukas Oakley to provide a greeting and updates from the County of Brant Council.

Bell’s updates included the recent approval of emergency funding for organizations working with intimate partner and gender-based violence, an approval in principal for increasing residential and commercial density in downtown Paris, Council’s debate on the possible reconsideration for the Bawcutt Centre Library, the Flood Mitigation Project and the County’s contribution for the new hospital.

Brandon Web, Research and Marketing Officer for the County of Brant’s Strategic Initiatives Department, then went over several County economic development updates including data on business growth, the growth of commercial and industrial spaces, the Community Improvement Plan, as well as several County priorities for 2024.

Joel Sherbino, Pastor for the Paris Community Church, later spoke about all the renovations that the church has undergone, as well as future plans for the use of the #ForParis Centre going forward.

Brad Hunter, Membership Chair for the Paris and District Chamber of Commerce, gives an update during the members update meeting on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.

He noted that the church had launched a capital campaign in March of 2020, which despite challenges along the way, opened up many opportunities.

“What’s essentially happened is, we have fully restored the building and I’ve been told that it is good to go for the next 100 years. What we’ve also done is, we have wanted to create very distinct spaces within our building to be used by the church, but also by our County. Our main auditorium underwent significant upgrades to have a professional grade sound and lighting stage and we host a number of concerts,” he said. “Here in the community lounge, it’s been completely revitalized for meetings and for community events. The lower level has also been redone, primarily for youth and kids but also as another smaller meeting space as well. If you want to host events, or if you’re wondering how this can be used by you, please be in touch.”

Lastly, Elena Haskell, Community Engagement Manager for the Raw Carrot, provided information about the organization, as well as several products they are offering both online and at the Paris Wincey Mills market, such as soups, pancake mix, and granola.

To end the meeting, Barna let everyone know about upcoming events and programs to look out for.

“We’re launching something called the Accelerate Series and it will be free [this year, and likely next] for members of the Paris BIA and for members of the Chamber,” said Barna. “…On April 17 Numesh Inc. is hosting our after-hours and on April 18, Ladies Who Lead is having an event called ‘Collaboration Unleashed,’ and on May 23, we are having and open house for our new office and I would love for you to stop in and have a chitchat, and come to the ribbon cutting ceremony at around 1:00 p.m.”

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