Though the Brome Lake Chamber of Commerce is slated to close down at the end of the year, its incorporation to the Brome-Missisquoi Chamber of Commerce is well under way. With its 700 members or so, this Chamber will be the third largest in the province. The merging chambers will move to new facilities in Cowansville in March-April. This change has been in the works for nearly two years and will include as its major partners the chambers of Cowansville, Farnham and Brome Lake, as well as their respective environs.

Hélène Paquette, the president of the amalgamated chamber, and previously the executive director of the Brome Lake chamber in 2010 was a moving force of the merger. “In my mind, this process was launched when it was realized that working as a team would be beneficial. In this regard, once the Cowansville and the Brome Lake chambers cease to exist, a new entity, the Brome-Missisquoi Chamber of Commerce, will be born.” According to Jean-Luc Marcil of Comité d’Action Lac-Brome this consolidation “provides more synergy on the administrative front, more presence, more resources and support”. Echoing Suzanne Gregory, director of the Lac-Brome Chamber “it will facilitate the promotion of events, as well as augment services to members, throughout the region.”

Transition period

Despite general enthusiasm, there remain a number of questions and grey areas. “We are in the middle of a transition period,” explains Mrs Gregory.

Action committees – Farnham, Brome Lake, Cowansville – have been struck by the board of directors to meet the specific needs of each region. These committees have been mandated to define and finance priority activities. The membership and characteristics of each region must be taken into account. In Brome Lake, for instance, members are about 80% self-employed and used to bilingual services that reflect the demograpics of the milieu. Since the merger was announced, 77% of Brome Lake members have renewed their membership for 2017, which “shows that they are on board,” said Mrs Gregory.

Budget and membership

Members and management of the Brome-Missisquoi Chamber fully back Mrs Paquette when she states that “the ultimate objective of this clustering is to enhance visibility in terms of expanded business opportunities, as well as greater credibility in the eyes of businesses, municipalities and provincial bodies. The Chamber expects to participate more fully in matters of regional economic and tourism development, stronger budgets and a larger membershp, all aimed at offering more interesting activities.”

We aim to reach these goals, says Marcil “with the help of a strong and creative team on Action Lac-Brome and meet the needs within our business community.” It is too early to tell if expectations will be met. The transition should be completed in 2018.

Translation by Jean-Claude Lefebvre