July 15, 2017

The dream of a Kitikmeot Chamber of Commerce is on the cusp of becoming a reality. Wilf Wilcox, the organization's interim chair, has seen interest in the Kitikmeot Chamber of Commerce come and go over the years, but this time he says he's optimistic it's here to stay. "The chamber has kind of had a patchy history," said Wilcox. "We've got it revived again with a little more of a longer view... we're feeling positive about things." The Kitikmeot Chamber - which is registered still in it's "nucleus stage," according to Wilcox - has a full board with membership from Taloyoak, Gjoa Haven, Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay. As of the beginning of July, the Chamber hired a coordinator, Cynthia Ene, to tend to the important details related to funding, administration and promotion. Like Wilcox, she's based in Cambridge Bay. Wilcox said it's important for the Kitikmeot business community to have a collective voice and to examine and question policies set by municipalities and the territorial government, for example. The board members met last week by teleconference. "Having all of our documentation and necessary funding in place gives us a sense we can move on and start getting busy," he said. "We're hoping to be part of a regional economic development workshop and we're going to attend some of the fall tradeshows and stuff like that to develop a working relationship with other chambers." Ene recited a lengthy list of objectives for the Chamber including providing a boost to local businesses; ensuring that there's advocacy and government relations on behalf of small and large size businesses in the region; making sure there's training, personnel and resources opportunities; and giving businesses a platform to connect with one another. "Within the region there's a lot of development and a lot of growth, with CHARS (the Canadian High Arctic Research Station) for instance in Cambridge Bay, so there's a lot of opportunities for business to work together. The KCC (Kitikmeot Chamber of Commerce) was just really the next step for us to do that," said Ene, who holds a masters in business administration from Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and has lived in Cambridge Bay for three years. "I think if (the Chamber) is on the shoulders of many and if it truly represents the interests in the businesses of the region, it will hold. That's our hope." There's also been plenty of initial support from the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Department of Economic Development of Transportation and Kitikmeot Community Futures Inc., Wilcox noted. Chris West, executive director for the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, gave a presentation in the Kitikmeot to outline the benefits of belonging to a Chamber and how to establish a constitution and bylaws. "The thing I was impressed with about was the group that I met, (they) were all business owners, businesspeople, and there is a real passion for it there," West said. "One of the big things within the whole chamber network is support for each other. I think that will strengthen the business community in the Kitikmeot as well." Wilcox added that a membership drive will be forthcoming for the Kitikmeot Chamber, including mining and exploration companies that work in the region.



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