The Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce will look to redefine itself over the next year.
So says new CEO Robin Bobocel who spoke to members at the Chamber’s annual AGM Wednesday night.
Bobocel says he envisions the Chamber being a "Thought Leader" in Red Deer, one that challenges conventional thinking and hits on the uncomfortable topics.
“I want to get the chamber involved in discussions that aren't traditionally business issues, but they have an impact on the business community. For example, crime downtown, or the homelessness issue or the debate on a safe injection site,” he says. “The business community certainly has an opinion and a voice that needs to be heard on these issues.”
Bobocel, who came on board with the Chamber this past summer, also spoke strongly about his belief in volunteerism.
"I've challenged staff here to identify what their philanthropic goals are and as a team. We are going to contribute to all of those groups, whether it be a charity or a cause,” he says. “It’s important the community sees that we're out there contributing in a positive way and to its fabric.”
These new goals for the Chamber don’t mean it will be stepping away from tackling mainstream business issues such as voicing their input on the muncipal budget, according to Bobocel, a former COO of the Edmonton Chamber and Executive Director at Concrete Alberta.
“We've talked strongly and will continue to talk strongly on the minimum wage increases on the provincial side of things. Then on the federal side, obviously the changes to tax rates, whether it be on small business or taxation on investments or taxing employee benefits,” he says, noting minimum income thresholds for low income earners would work much better than hiking the minimum wage.
Bobocel adds the Chamber must continue to champion their concerns over what he calls the burden of an inefficient regulatory system. He blames said system for the loss of Energy East.
“Both the provincial and federal governments need to wear some of that decision,” he believes. “The province promised that imposing a carbon levy on industry would buy us a social license to get pipelines to the coast and obviously that's not working.”
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