The Okotoks & District Chamber of Commerce was recently honoured with a major award.

They were named one of the 2023 Alberta Chambers of the Year by the Alberta Chamber of Commerce.

A total of five chambers were recognized based on a few size categories, with the Okotoks chamber having won for chambers with between 199 and 499 members.

Executive Director Dawn LeMaistre says they had a busy year.

“We spent a lot of time over the last year working on a new website and CRM platform for our membership to help increase the value of membership from the ground up, so we’ve dedicated the last year and a half to building this platform with Alberta Chambers directly, so it’s something that they own and operate, so that they have the ability to change and modify it to best suit their membership needs.”

The local chamber has seen some strong growth in the last year, with the highest membership they’ve had in about a decade as of this April.

It was also a big year for advocacy.

"We’ve really pivoted with that. Up until the last three years, the Okotoks chamber didn’t take a role in that at all at the provincial and federal level, but we’ve really changed that. We co-sponsored three policies last year and two this year. We’re just making sure we’re getting the voice out there for businesses of what their needs are locally, provincially, and federally.”

LeMaistre says they’ve also been influential in transforming their previous Business Excellence Awards to what is now the Business Celebration Gala.

“Lots of fellow chambers are kind of following suit with us in getting rid of their excellence awards and looking just to find a reason to bring businesses together instead of handing out awards for who might seem to be doing better than others because you never know who’s doing well. We shouldn’t be in the business of deciding who wins awards and who shouldn’t because we don’t have the matrix do be able to do that successfully.”

LeMaistre herself was also honoured to be nominated for Executive of the Year.

As far as what they’ve been up to lately, the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce recently held their AGM.

They’d normally hold it in January, but some bylaw changes from late last year led to its being held on April 28 with a new nomination process.

Their board still has some familiar faces including President Chelsea Besuijen and seven returning board members, along with some new faces to the board.
“One is Dan Katz with Windy City Pizza. Dan is very familiar with our business community, he’s been involved with numerous different businesses for decades and has sat on lots of boards, so we’re thrilled to add him to the mix. Then we have a new board member who’s been a member for a very long time, it’s Danielle Mayhew with The Patchmaster Limited, so just a different industry take. Is local here but does a lot of business in Calgary so has a lot of background in permitting and development and things like that, so we’re excited to add her into the mix.”

Okotoks Chamber of Commerce is currently preparing for two major events being held within the next week or two; their Business Celebration Gala and their Gold Tournament.