01:40 – How CWCC has helped its members through Covid
04:51 – Distilling all the Covid noise for members
07:14 – The new “shoplocalcw.ca” gift card website
08:51 – What’s coming up for CWCC members
10:05 – How to connect with CWCC
Click the “Connect” tab to browse Web/Social links …
Shop Local Website: shoplocalcw.ca
Jason Bavington (00:00):
Hey everyone. It’s Jason with DUX — Your Local City Guide and we’re in the town of Fergus Ontario today on a beautiful, gorgeous summer day. Just soaking up the sunshine, soaking up the heat in Victoria Park, which actually has historical roots with the Fergus Scottish Festival, which actually got its start right here in this very park. And I’ve attended when it’s been here. It’s been fantastic. Now it’s a bit quiet. You know, because there’s been a few, you know, global events that have kind of shifted the world a bit, but you know, we all know about that. But what we haven’t talked about yet through DUX in our video blog is the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce, which is actually based in Fergus Ontario. And to that end, I have Dana Burdenuk, general manager of the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce. Welcome Dana!
Dana Burdenuk (00:47):
Thank you, Jason! Great to be here. Thanks for interviewing me today.
Jason Bavington (00:50):
My pleasure! I think after the video we’ll do like a picnic or something. You just can’t waste these gorgeous summer days.
Dana Burdenuk (00:54):
Absolutely. Gorgeous day. Thank you.
Jason Bavington (00:56):
Yeah. But here we are. Summer of 2020. Now, you know, the few months leading up to Summer 2020,they’ve been kind of, kind of interesting, kind of different, you know, it hasn’t really happened before. And so as we know the world got kind of turned on its ear over the past few months. And so Dana, tell us a little bit about how the Chamber has kind of adapted to the situation, how you’ve supported your members and just what your experience has been and how you. Basically held your members over these past few months or so.
Dana Burdenuk (01:24):
Absolutely. Well, great question. And yeah, it has been difficult. We are very much an event-driven organization to support our Members. And we were leading up to our largest events right before Covid hit, which included a Business Advancement Summit, a fantastic professional development opportunity for business leaders and business owners to participate in. And that was literally one week before we had to shut down for Covid, followed by our Awards of Excellence gala. We do an annual Awards of Excellence and this was the 40th annual year of it. And then our golf tournament and local biz night at the Raceway. So those are four of our biggest events. And so what we did, we shifted to go virtual in most cases. Some of the things we did have to postpone, but one thing I’m really, really proud of. Last week,we were able to recognize and celebrate our business community with our Awards of Excellence.
Dana Burdenuk (02:14):
And we did it as a drive-in movie event and we did it right in the parking lot at the Grand River Raceway, with 40 foot inflatable screen, if you can believe that. It was massive. And we prerecorded some really nice video footage that just basically gave an overview of the winners. And we had a live MC who did a great job of celebrating all of the nominees. And we had some interactive initiatives throughout the evening. We were able to social distance. We had over 80 cars and about 150 people in attendance, which was amazing. So there was an opportunity to do a little bit of networking and connecting with each other.And the feedback we had was fantastic. So those were the types of things that we’re trying to do a little bit more virtually. We moved to virtual webinars.
Dana Burdenuk (02:58):
We did a series of five webinars throughout the months of April and May all focused on business recovery as well as supports available through Covid to help businesses financially throughout the crisis. We did something with speed networking. We did a business after hours, all virtually, which was exciting. And we are planning for another in-person event, again, with social distancing. Our local biz night that we do annually at the Raceway. We’re looking to do that a little bit later this summer. And again, just give Members the opportunity to get together. So that’s what we’ve been, we’ve been doing. We really pivoted and made some quick changes and our Members have been very, very supportive of us, which is fantastic. We’ve reached out to most and just to see what they need, and then try to find them the resources, whether that’s through grant programs, loan programs, different types of assistance, any way that we can support.That’s what we’re here to do.
Jason Bavington (03:52):
Nice. And like what a great excuse to go to the drive-in. And who would have thought we’d hit the drive-in for a Chamber event. But it’s neat that you pivoted in that way and come up with these creative solutions that allow your Members to get together, allow you to celebrate all the accomplishments of your Members. And doing it in a way that recognizes, you know, global realities and local realities, while still having an opportunity to have everyone come out and have some fun with it and do something different,which is really, really good. I know what we also hear from a lot of businesses is the amount of overwhelm in terms of information out there and support programs out there and grants and, you know, conflicting news reports and press releases. And having a Chamber that can kind of filter that and distill that, that’d be the worth the price of membership alone I would think.
Dana Burdenuk (04:38):
It sure is. And that’s one of the things we did. We developed right off the bat, a Covid-19 business resources portal on our website. We worked with our web developer to ensure that there was a return to work safely tool kit there, as well as business resources and what was available. And through our bi-weekly email newsletter, we were very clearly communicating the changes and what was available and trying to be that one stop shop for all of our businesses. And we did get a lot of great feedback from our business, our Members, the local business community. And yeah, that was what was important to ensure that it was clear and businesses knew what was available to help them survive and thrive.
Jason Bavington (05:17):
Yeah, for sure. Cause some businesses are super struggling. Other businesses are doing really well. There’s a lot kind of in between. So what’s been your feedback or what have you heard, you know, word on the street in terms of what kind of things are businesses looking for coming up over the next month or two, where the Chamber can come in to provide a supportive role, what are you’re planning to support your members with?
Dana Burdenuk (05:38):
For sure. Well, a lot of what we’re offering, in addition to that, the communication and the networking with each other, making sure that businesses know who’s doing what in the community we have been matching needs with resources and helping people just to ensure that they’ve got what they need. Some of the things that we’ve been doing, working with the Township the economic development task force, which includes members of the business community, includes other business organizations and the BIA’s. And we’re all working together to understand what the business community needs and ensuring that we’re helping them. So whether it’s helping with street closures, to set up patio cafes, whether that’s through grant funding. A lot of businesses are not in a position to take on any more debt. So loans were not helpful to them. So we worked with the County, with the Township to create some, to propose and to help create some grant, which were really, really helpful.
Dana Burdenuk (06:34):
The other thing businesses are very much in need of support from a digital online presence. E-commerce marketing. A number of our smaller businesses didn’t have websites and didn’t have e-commerce options available to them. So we worked closely with the Township to create the “shoplocalcw” website, which is a gift certificate program that allows consumers to purchase gift cards from over 70 businesses right now in Centre Wellington at no cost to the consumer and no cost to business. And the Township and the Centre of Wellington Chamber of Commerce are the administrators of that plan. So we’re working very closely with the businesses. We’re working with Digital Main Street with other providers of, you know, digital platforms. Again, to ensure that businesses can take that business to the next step, because they have to pivot and reach their consumers.
Jason Bavington (07:24):
Yeah. So in some ways this whole experience with Covid is actually also an opportunity for businesses to take that next marketing step, to take that next outreach step, to discover new platforms and new traffic vehicles to find these audiences who, like, people want to shop local, as you know, people want to support local businesses. You know, it’s very, it feels good to do that. And so offering opportunities for business to do that, especially for businesses that didn’t even have a website. So to go from no website to be online and embracing Digital Main Street and everything in between is I think it’d be really exciting for a lot of Members.
Dana Burdenuk (07:58):
And to take the, make it comfortable for them. Take the risk out of it and help walk you through it. That’s really what it’s all about because if they’re not comfortable or understand what’s available, that can be overwhelming.
Jason Bavington (08:09):
Yeah. That’s awesome. So you have a few events that have been successful, you pivoted and did some really cool things. And so what’s the next thing that’s coming up? Right, like what’s down the road?
Dana Burdenuk (08:21):
What’s next? While we are, we’re going to continue with virtual events where we can just, again, to ensure that physical distancing and safety. We will, some of our networking breakfasts in the Fall, we’ll start back with virtual and we’ll go back when we can get into a larger space, we will get back into the in person meetings. Our local biz night at the Raceway, again, not official yet, but we’re looking to do something like that later in August or September. So that will be an opportunity for businesses to get together once again. And that’s something that we do get large business participation in that regard. And our Business Advancement Summit, we were just looking at whether that’s going to be an in-person or a hybrid virtual hybrid in-person type of event. But we will do that in the fall for sure.
Jason Bavington (09:06):
Nice. Okay. And so just remind everyone, what are the geographic areas that the Centre Wellington Chamber serves?
Dana Burdenuk (09:10):
So Centre Wellington, we’re Fergus Elora Salem Inverhall, all areas in between, Belwood. And we’ve been, Centre Wellington Chamber has been, it was amalgamated between the Fergus and Elora Chambers back in 1999. And so we’ve got this wonderful building just over here to my left that was built by the community. So we’re really excited to have that.
Jason Bavington (09:32):
That’s nice. All right. So for people that are watching that are in your catchment area, that aren’t yet Members they can hit up your website. Find your social media.
Dana Burdenuk (09:40):
Absolutely. Chamber at chamber.ca is our website. And, that’s my email address!
Jason Bavington (09:50):
We’ll edit that out later.
Dana Burdenuk (09:51):
Yes, for sure.
Jason Bavington (09:53):
Not going to edit it out…
Dana Burdenuk (09:53):
cwchamber.ca is our website. And then my email address is chamber at cwchamber .ca.
Jason Bavington (09:58):
Nice. Okay. And what we’ll do, we’ll put all those links below in this blog post so everyone can check out and find out more information about you guys and your membership options that you have and browse your Member directory. Before this video I browsed and you have a nice cross category set of offerings of businesses. It’s really impressive. So yes, I celebrate the work that you’ve been doing in the community and the work that you’ve been doing to support your Members. Handhold them and guide them and just help them get through, which has been a very difficult time. That will be exciting to continue to follow you and hear more about your successes as well.
Dana Burdenuk (10:30):
Thank you, Jason. Yeah. And do follow our social media as well. On Mondays, we do our Member Mondays and on Wednesdays Centre Wellington Wednesdays. And we do feature Members in different business categories every week. And we are trying to drive business directly to their social platforms or website as they choose.
Jason Bavington (10:50):
Well again, Dana Burdenuk, General Manager of Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce. Thank you very much, Dana. That was really cool to hear all the things that you’ve been doing.
Dana Burdenuk (10:57):
Thank you, Jason. Great to be here today.
Jason Bavington (11:01):
Yeah. So if you’re watching this video anywhere else but on our website, head on over there. It’s dux.city. Click the blog link in the menu, you’ll find this video posted there. And as we mentioned, we’ll post links to the Centre Wellington Chamber’s website and social media and all those standard goodies. So you can follow up with them when you want to find out more about what’s happening in this area. So take care everyone, enjoy the sunshine and enjoy these beautiful Summer days. It’s a time to relax, a time to enjoy, a time to just bask in all this goodness, which is always around us, no matter what’s happening in the world. So take care everyone and we’ll talk to you soon.