A Year of Growing Stronger Together

Written by Mary Vellani, Chair of the Tri-Cities Chamber’s Board of Directors

First published in the Tri-City News on Thursday, November 25, 2021

As the days grow shorter and the weather grows colder, the year is coming to a close, and new beginnings are on the horizon. We look forward to the festive season and we are also taking this opportunity to reflect on the year behind us.

Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 has forced our business community to be creative, flexible, and resilient, with many of those creative solutions forever changing how we do business and manage our daily lives.

We began this year committed to providing stability during these turbulent and uncertain times, acting as the region’s go-to source for information, updates, and resources, as we continue to adapt to best serve the needs of our business community.

Throughout 2021, we provided online resources and webinar training while developing a Chamber Resource Library on our website, with substantial support from the Coquitlam Public Library, providing our business community with the ability to access the information, resources, and tools they need, all in one place.

We also began re-introducing in-person events, such as our annual Golf Classic, after-hours KICKSTART networking event, popular Mayors’ BBQ, and more. At this time, we are currently eagerly planning our Christmas Luncheon and Business Excellence Awards to be in-person events with modifications as required.

It has been an incredible honour to serve as the 2021 Board Chair. I am pleased to share that the financial strength of the Chamber — along with the commitment of the Board of Directors, and the experience, focus, and passion of the Chamber staff — position us well to move forward into 2022 with continued advocacy and new programs, events, and initiatives while embracing change and innovation.

Speaking of change, Michael Hind, our CEO of 11 years, made the decision to take on a new opportunity within our community. I wish to thank Michael for his tireless commitment to the Chamber, helping steer us through the pandemic, and working closely with our new CEO, Leslie Courchesne, as she transitions into the role.

In addition, I would like to thank Catherine Ackerman, our Chamber Executives, and the Board of Directors for working through the Summer during the CEO recruitment and for rolling up your sleeves on our committees to help get the work done.

A special thank you to our Ambassador Team for being the face of the Chamber at so many virtual events (and now in-person ones too).

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Chamber team — Camelia Maxim, Carlos Haddad, Chloe Wan, Christina Brown, Michelle Law, Nicole Lauzon, and our student interns Delaney Hunt and Sofia Borgford — for their hard work and dedication to the Chamber and our community!

As we move into 2022, I am full of optimism because we live, work, and play in an incredible community. The Tri-Cities is a supportive community that is creative, generous, innovative, and resilient, and together we are stronger.

I know that the Board of Directors will be in great hands with Ryan Whittle as our new Chair for 2022. I will miss having Randy Webster’s wisdom on the Executive Team and am thankful for all of the support he has provided in his role as Past Chair.