Article originally appeared in Le Moniteur acadien, May 23, 2012
By Claire Lanteigne
Many people ask: “What’s the purpose of a Chamber of Commerce?” “What goes on in a Chamber of Commerce?” “What exactly is a Chamber of Commerce?”
To begin with, let’s say that a Chamber of Commerce is an association of enlightened citizens who voluntarily pool their experiences and sometimes their money to promote and defend their collective and individual interests as well as those of the community, be they economic, civic or social in nature.
In essence, it’s a voluntary association of community business people who come together for the purpose of promoting economic, civic and social development.
Canada’s first boards of trade and chambers of commerce came into existence long before Confederation. Early boards and chambers established associations for the promotion of trade and economic development to provide a common forum for the exchange of information, and to represent business interests in the community and before the public. Today, most communities of any size in Canada are served by a chamber or board, and they provide a full range of member services, which respond to the specific needs of their communities.
New Brunswick’s Chambers of Commerce
In New Brunswick, over 40 community chambers of commerce and boards of trade representing more than 5,000 organizations provide the common ground where local businesses meet to discuss issues of concern to their communities and to promote their objectives.
The New Brunswick Chamber network serves such globally recognized members as J.D. Irving and Irving Oil, McCain Foods, Moosehead Breweries, Ganong Chocolates, Barrett Corporation, the University of New Brunswick, the Université de Moncton, the Caisse Populaire, Assumption Life and Armour Transportation while supporting the growth of countless small and emerging employers with aggressive advocacy to improve the region’s business climate and quality of life.
Economic development, including tourism and promotion of commercial trade, transportation, forestry, energy, taxation, the labour market, government regulation, fiscal and monetary policy and access to capital are all concerns for many Chambers of Commerce, which are, first and foremost, the voice of business in New Brunswick. The result is that New Brunswick is better positioned today to weather the global economic storm than many of its competitor regions.
Our vision is to be the pre-eminent business organization in New Brunswick by driving economic growth, creating new opportunities for our members, and building a more inclusive community. To achieve this vision, we will:
- Advance the most important economic issues and projects in New Brunswick.
- Help our members grow their businesses by delivering opportunities to connect with each other and the broader community, and by engaging them in the Chamber’s work.
- Act as advocates of our members to influence public policy.
- Provide a support infrastructure to assist New Brunswick firms to become more productive.
- Promote innovative and ground-breaking ideas that will make New Brunswick more competitive, by acting as a catalyst and thought leader.
- Continuously communicate our work to the broader community.
- Collaborate with the Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade in New Brunswick to ensure that we function to the advantage to our membership.
- Partner with other organizations and work cooperatively with the government, non-profit and community sectors.
- As individuals and as a team, we will strive for excellence and continuous improvement in everything the Chamber does. Working together, we can help our members create world-class communities in New Brunswick.
Canadian community chambers and boards of trade are incorporated under what is called the Boards of Trade Act, which is administered by Industry Canada.
For chambers and boards of trade, it is advantageous to incorporate under the Boards of Trade Act to legally protect your chamber’s name and to ensure that no other organization using the term “chamber” or “board” can lawfully exist in your territory. In addition, individual members of your chamber are absolved of liability for the debts of your chamber, provided that annual returns are made in accordance with the provisions of the Boards of Trade Act.