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  • Local Priorities to be Championed by Provincial Business Network - June 6

    Local Priorities to be Championed by Provincial Business Network


    For Immediate Release: Lethbridge, Alberta, June 6, 2017


    Last week representatives from the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce descended on Leduc to attend the annual Alberta Chambers of Commerce Policy Convention. At this convention, chambers from across the province work together to develop a slate of priorities for the provincial office to champion in Edmonton. The staff and board of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce then takes these marching orders and advocates for them to decision makers in the government.


    This year the Lethbridge Chamber took three policies to the convention that focus on building a more competitive environment for our local businesses. Our policy on Investing in Market Access for Southern Alberta Businesses recommends that the Government of Alberta invest in local rail, road, and air networks to help local businesses get their goods to new and existing markets more effectively. Our second policy Grown in Canada Label: Marketing Alberta’s Agri-food, recommends that the Province work with Federal policy makers to promote a voluntary grown-in-Canada label to help promote our agri-food products overseas. Finally, our policy titled Measuring the Effects of Increased Minimum Wages in Alberta calls on the Government to halt minimum wage increases until as system of metrics can be implemented to measure the impact of previous increases.


    We also supported a policy brought forward by Medicine Hat to advocate for the twinning of Highway 3, from Medicine Hat to the B.C. border.


    All of these policies were adopted by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, meaning that they will now be championed by the united voice of thousands of business owners across the province.


    “One of the growing challenges our businesses face is remaining competitive in the face of accumulating costs. We need the Provincial Government to understand that costs need to come down for businesses. The Alberta Chambers of Commerce is an important partner in getting that message heard by the decision makers.” – Harry Gross, President of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce


    “We need to persuade the province to pursue a regulatory environment that enables local businesses to remain competitive, and to prioritize the kind of infrastructure and trade policies that give our local businesses new and better opportunities. That’s what these policies are about, and now they are being endorsed by over 120 Albertan Chambers, and tens of thousands of Albertan businesses.” – Karla Pyrch, Executive Director of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce.


    You can review the full Policy Book for the Alberta Chambers of Commerce Here.


    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce
    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is The Voice of Business, promoting and enhancing a healthy economic and social environment in our region by serving the interests of business. We represent over 750 businesses and over 10,000 employees in the Lethbridge area.


    For more information on this release, please contact Peter Casurella at 403-327-1586 or by emailing policy@lethbridgechamber.com

    Policy Win - June 1st

    Policy Win for the Chamber as Government Expands Dual Credit Program for Students

    For Immediate Release - Lethbridge, Alberta, June 3, 2017


    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce was all smiles when the Provincial Government announced expanded funding for the Dual Credit program for students this month. Alberta’s Duel Credit program allows students to earn credits towards a post-secondary certificate, diploma, or degree while they are still in high school. This allows students to discover their career passions through a variety of learning opportunities such as trade apprenticeships, power engineering certificates, health-care programs, and criminal justice studies.


    The Dual Credit Strategy Fund was rolled out as a three year pilot project in 2014 with contracts being awarded to both the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College who then established educational partnerships with Lethbridge School District #51, Holy Spirit School Division, Horizon School Division, Palliser School Division, Westwind School Division, and the Kainai High School on the Blood Reserve. Feedback from participants has been consistently and resoundingly positive, with more young people finding pathways into post-secondary education in programs that will provide them with meaningful and rewarding career options.


    In 2016 the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce released a policy asking the Provincial Government to renew their commitment to this program by providing sustainable funding beyond the three-year trial period. This policy was adopted by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce and was presented in Edmonton with the backing of thousands of business owners from across the province.


    “The Chamber works hard behind the scenes to advocate on behalf of member businesses to create a thriving economic environment for our community. Getting better educational outcomes for our young people, engaging them sooner, and helping them discover meaningful career options, is good for the entire community, and certainly good for local businesses looking for talented young people.” – Karla Pyrch, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce


    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce
    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is The Voice of Business, promoting and enhancing a healthy economic and social environment in our region by serving the interests of business. We represent over 760 businesses and over 10,000 employees in the Lethbridge area.


    For more information on this initiative, please contact Karla Pyrch at 403-327-1586 or by emailing karla@lethbridgechamber.com

    Board of Directors of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce Elections - May 31st

    Local Business owner and Former Chamber President elected to Board of Directors of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce

    For Immediate Release

    Lethbridge, Alberta, June 1, 2017 – The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that our former president, and long-time volunteer, Bruce Galts of Galko Homes, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce.
     

    The Alberta Chambers of Commerce is the Provincial branch of the nation-wide Chambers network and they work to represent the needs and priorities of thousands of businesses across the province to the government in Edmonton. As a Board member, Bruce will participate in the oversight and governance of this organization and will be a part of advocacy efforts on behalf of the business community province-wide.


    Bruce has a long history of serving the community in governance roles, as a Senator at the University of Lethbridge, on the board of the Canadian Home Builder’s Association, with Economic Development Lethbridge, the Urban Development Institute, Built Green Alberta, Enervision Ltd., and of course the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce where he served as our President and Board Chair in 2014.


    We know that Bruce will bring a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing business owners in Lethbridge, and we can count on having an effective advocate for our region working with the Alberta Chambers of Commerce to effect positive change.


    “We’re really proud to have one of our own representing all Albertan business owners in this way. Bruce has been a great asset to our Chamber over the many years that he’s served on our board and committees and he is the right man for the job.”


    – Karla Pyrch, Executive Director of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce

    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce
    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is The Voice of Business, promoting and enhancing a healthy economic and social environment in our region by serving the interests of business. We represent over 750 businesses and over 10,000 employees in the Lethbridge area.


    For more information on this release, please contact Peter Casurella at 403-327-1586 or by emailing policy@lethbridgechamber.com

    Bids for Recycling Contracts - May 2

    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce urges City to commit to soliciting bids from Private Industry for Recycling Contracts

     
    For Immediate Release - Lethbridge, Alberta, May 2, 2017


    It has been the long-standing position of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce that government should not compete with private industry, unless very special circumstances dictate that only government can effectively fill the need. However, City Council, acting on the advice of the City Administration, seems to be ready to approve a residential curbside recycling service, funded by taxpayers, without first issuing a call for proposals to private businesses to fully explore all possible options for the residents of our city.


    In December, the Chamber issued a letter to City Council, reminding them that the business community does not support government services moving into competition with private industry and asking them to explore private options. In March, the Chamber went before a session of Council and called on Councilors to explore private options first before deciding to deliver residential waste diversion as a public option. Now, with the date of final decisions fast approaching, there is no indication that City Council will act on these requests.


    In response we have issued the attached position titled: Solicit Bids from Private Industry on Recycling Contracts. The Chamber of Commerce firmly believes that calling for bids from private industry before making a final decision on recycling services is necessary, and that private industry could provide better recycling services than a city-run service, for the following reasons.

     

    1. The City should not be in competition with private enterprise
    2. The City has a responsibility to taxpayers to explore all options
    3. Most Lethbridge residents want the City to put out a request for proposals (70%)
    4. Private industry has a natural need to innovate to remain efficient and competitive
    5. Moving ahead with the public option, without considering private industry, would violate the City of Lethbridge’s 2014 – 2017 Strategic Plan

     

    All five of these points are explored thoroughly in our released position. (attached)
    “We want to be clear that the Chamber is supportive of curbside recycling, and we know that most citizens in Lethbridge are too. But how can we be confident that we are getting the best deal for our tax-dollars when the City has not even fully explored private options? Red Deer has a great relationship with their private recyclers and they have a successful and progressive waste diversion program. If the city can show us that the public option truly is the best one, then we’re happy to support them, but they have not done so, and they are pushing good businesses out of the market.” – Harry Gross, President of the Chamber of Commerce.


    “If the City moves ahead with a publicly run and publicly funded service without issuing a call for proposals from private businesses, that sends a very negative message to local businesses,” says Karla Pyrch, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce.


    Voting on CIP projects, including the 14 million dollar Materials Recovery Facility, goes before Council in May.


    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce


    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is The Voice of Business, promoting and enhancing a healthy economic and social environment in our region by serving the interests of business. We represent over 760 businesses and over 10,000 employees in the Lethbridge area.


    For more information on this initiative, please contact Karla Pyrch at 403-327-1586 or by emailing karla@lethbridgechamber.com

    Major CIP Decision - April 28

    Chamber of Commerce asks Council for Carefully Studied Decisions regarding Major Facility Projects

    For Immediate Release - Lethbridge, Alberta, April 28, 2017


    With City Council poised to make important decisions on CIP projects which have the potential to shape the direction our community for the next generation, the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is once again calling on City Council to carefully evaluate all potential large-scale facility projects and study how these projects could be best combined to minimize expenses and maximize long-term economic returns for our region. In March, the Chamber released a policy calling for Council to consider a Multi-use Convention and Arts Centre, with the possibility of a world-class art gallery featuring the University of Lethbridge’s immense art collection (second largest in Canada) as a priority.


    “Our Board of Directors had a growing realization that, although the various parties who have presented large capital projects have conducted studies that have shown the benefits of their projects, we weren’t aware that anyone had yet asked the question: ‘given that there is limited CIP funding, what combination or prioritization of projects would provide the most long-term economic benefit to our region?” – Karla Pyrch, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce


    In the attached letter issued to City Council, the Chamber emphasizes that it believes there are four projects which should be priorities for the City because of both the economic and social benefits that they would provide.


    “We are supportive of a new Trades and Exhibition space in this city,” says Harry Gross, President of the Chamber of Commerce, “but we also see the need for a new Performing Arts Centre and a Convention Centre. The possibility that the City could partner with the University of Lethbridge to showcase the second largest art collection in Canada, is also an opportunity that could put Lethbridge on the map and make a combined Convention space truly competitive on a national and international scale. We’re asking the city to study what the best combination and prioritization of projects would be that would generate the most economic benefits and private business investment, as well as job-growth, in our region. Now’s the time to make strategic decisions which will drive the maximum return.”


    When you combine these sorts of community facilities together, you improve their cost-efficiency, get more use out of them, and they become far more competitive. The Chamber’s request to City Council is all about taking that hard look now at what combination of projects will make best use of taxpayers’ dollars and will set up our entire region for success over the next 50 years.


    “The Chamber feels like our community is at a crossroads and we need to make carefully studied decisions. Where you build facilities and how you combine them will have huge long-term effects on the future of our city and will affect the options that we have in the future. There’s an opportunity here to build a legacy project, and to plan carefully for the future, in a way that could make an immense difference for our entire region.” – Karla Pyrch, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce
    CIP decisions go before City Council over the month of May.


    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce


    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is The Voice of Business, promoting and enhancing a healthy economic and social environment in our region by serving the interests of business. We represent over 760 businesses and over 10,000 employees in the Lethbridge area.


    For more information on this initiative, please contact Karla Pyrch at 403-327-1586 or by emailing karla@lethbridgechamber.com

    Enclosed:


    Letter to City Council
    Policy: Development of a Multi-use Convention and Arts Centre

    Big Win for Business - April 28

    Chamber of Commerce’s advocacy efforts pay off as Province invests in Airport Planning

     
    For Immediate Release - Lethbridge, Alberta, April 28, 2017
     
    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is feeling encouraged following this weeks’ announcement of a $90,000 dollar commitment from the Provincial government to fund an airport master plan. This funding will allow the County of Lethbridge to study what would be the best management framework for the airport which would allow the facility to grow, attract new carriers and business, and contribute to the future growth of our region.

    In February of 2017, the Lethbridge Chamber released and advocated for a policy titled: Investing in Market Access for Southern Alberta Businesses, calling on the Provincial government to “aide in creating a plan for sustainable growth at local airports as a portion of local economic progression, with an eye to growing international and inter-regional opportunities.” The Chamber advocated for this policy in meetings with our local MLA’s, members of the provincial opposition, and in meetings and discussions with stakeholders, our Member of Parliament, and through the media.
    “We’re very pleased that the voice of business has been heard on this important issue,” said Harry Gross, President of the Chamber of Commerce. “Lethbridge has incredible potential for economic growth, and we need better transportation infrastructure to support that growth. The airport is a key part of that picture, and this investment signals that we are headed in the right direction.”


    “The Chamber works really hard behind the scenes to advocate on behalf of member businesses to create a thriving economic environment for our community. This investment is a win for our entire region.” – Karla Pyrch, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce


    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce

    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is The Voice of Business, promoting and enhancing a healthy economic and social environment in our region by serving the interests of business.

    Chamber Staff Member Awarded - April 24th

    Local Chamber Staff Member Awarded 1 Week Internship with Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Ottawa

     

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Monday, April 24, 2017

    On Monday, May 1st the Communications and Policy Strategist at our local Chamber, Peter Casurella, will be heading into work as usual, but he will be going to work 5 blocks away from Parliament Hill in Ottawa at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

     

    The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the Federal branch of the nation-wide business network. Their team works on behalf of all of the local Chambers of Commerce to make sure that the Federal Government hears and pays attention to the concerns of the business community across the country. In January, they put out a call for local chambers to apply for a 1 week internship in Ottawa with their policy team, and one of our staff was selected.

     

    “This is a really great opportunity for us,” said Karla Pyrch, Executive Director of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce. “Not many people realize how much work the Chamber does to make sure that our municipal, provincial, and federal governments hear their concerns. We take the issues that are relevant to business here in Lethbridge, and through the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, our concerns get heard by decision makers in Ottawa. Our Communications and Policy Strategist is going to be able to learn first-hand how their staff works and bring that knowledge back to improve our efforts here.”

     

    Peter Casurella has only been working at the Chamber of Commerce for three months and is very excited about the trip.

     

    “I am absolutely thrilled to be given this opportunity. As a newcomer to the Chamber this is the perfect way for me to learn from professionals who have been in the policy and advocacy business for a long time. I’m hoping this opportunity will allow me to build contacts with a network of peers who will be an ongoing asset to the work we do on behalf of our local member businesses.”

     

    During his one week in Ottawa, Casurella has a packed schedule of meetings with the offices of various ministries, including the Ministries of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Transport, and International Trade. He will also be working with Chamber staff on policy research for both Indigenous Affairs and Digital Inclusion for Rural Areas. 

     

    You can follow Casurella’s trip by tuning in to the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce’s social media for the first week of May. (Facebook: @LethbridgeChamber  Twitter: @LethChamber)

     

    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce

    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is The Voice of Business, promoting and enhancing a healthy economic and social environment in our region by serving the interests of business. We represent over 750 businesses and over 10,000 employees in the Lethbridge area.

    For more information on this initiative, please contact Peter Casurella at 403-327-1586 or by emailing policy@lethbridgechamber.com

    Budget 2017 Update - March 23th

    Budget 2017

    Lethbridge Chamber applauds long-term investments but is concerned over growing debt.

    On Wednesday the Federal government released the new budget for 2017-18 titled “Budget 2017 - Building a Strong Middle Class”. However, a realistic title for this budget could have been “Budget 2017 - Let’s Just Wait and See”. With significant regulatory, taxation, and trade changes expected south of the border in the coming months and only moderate economic growth nation-wide, it is no surprise that there’s few surprises to be seen. The government’s intention is understandably to delay major new initiatives until the evolving situation in the United States resolves itself into something predictable.

    Priorities were shifted, very little new money was spent, but there were also few tax changes.

    Harry Gross, President of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce, applauded the investments in skills-training and innovation evident in this budget.

    “All levels of our government are putting a priority on investing in Agri-food as one of the central pillars of a new, diversified Canadian economy. Our region is ready to be a leader in that drive. However, many of our producers and industry members can’t always find workers with the right high-tech, computer, or technical skills that they need to expand and run state-of-the-art operations. We’re hopeful that the Federal government’s investments in skills training and innovation will help address these needs.”

    The Chamber is also concerned about a lack of vigor in Ottawa to address the decreasing competitiveness of Canadian businesses as our neighbours south of the border move to slash regulations and taxes.

    “Canada is a great place to do business,” said Karla Pyrch, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, “but businesses that compete internationally hoped to see something in this budget to give them an edge in the face of rising labour and regulatory costs.  There simply wasn’t anything.”

    The Chamber also warns that Canadians should be wary of the high deficits being run by the Federal government. Although Canada’s economy has been performing moderately well, there is no guarantee that it will continue to do so, nor that commodity prices will recover at the rate that this budget plans for.

    “When you run deficits of this size you have very little room to maneuver if there is a sudden downturn in the economy,” said Gross. “The government is banking on steadily improving resource prices and economic growth to result in smaller deficits, but there’s no guarantees in global economics, and there is still no plan to bring us back to balanced budgets within the foreseeable future.”

    While this budget delivers some solid long-term investments vis-à-vis skills training and investments in innovation, it does so at an increasing cost that will be shouldered by the next generation with an ever-steeper mountain of debt.

     

    For more information, contact Peter Casurella by telephone at 403-849-7225 or by email at policy@lethbridgechamber.com.

     

    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce

    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is The Voice of Business, promoting and enhancing a healthy economic and social environment in our region by serving the interests of business. We represent over 750 businesses and over 10,000 employees in the Lethbridge area.

    For more information on this initiative, please contact Peter Casurella at 403-327-1586 or by emailing policy@lethbridgechamber.com

    Budget 2017 - March 17th

    New Budget delivers on local commitments, but lacks infrastructure spending for Southern Alberta, and raises concerns about the future.
     
    Lethbridge, Alberta – In the wake of yesterday’s provincial budget, the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is expressing concern the growing provincial debt, specifically that there is no plan in place to get us back to balanced budgets. While the deficit for 2016-17 is estimated at $10.8 billion, this year the government of Alberta appears to have found some savings that would lower the 2017-18 deficit by half a billion dollars to $10.3 billion. However, with our current provincial debt headed for $45 billion in the coming year, economists predict that we’re well on our way to $71 billion by 2019-20.

    What does this mean? We’re headed back to debt levels that the province hasn’t seen since the late 80’s.

    “While the current government can’t be blamed for the economic crisis that they inherited and the collapse of commodity prices, it’s very troubling that every year the debt continues to climb by billions of dollars without any clear path back to balanced books,” said Harry Gross, President of the Chamber of Commerce. “This province needs a realistic plan to return to balanced budgets that doesn’t involve hoping for a return to high oil prices.”

    In the short term there’s some good things in this budget for Southern Alberta. The government has continued to uphold its commitments to several large-scale infrastructure projects in our region, including the Destination Project at the University of Lethbridge, the Trades and Technologies Facility at the Lethbridge College, and continued project funding for the Chinook Regional Hospital. Additionally, there’s funding for a range of new projects and services including a new school, funding to support the new Cavendish Farms Expansion, commitments to help provide clean drinking water on local reserves, and funding for more affordable housing projects.

    “The business community is also happy that the government maintained the small business tax at 2%,” said Gross. “With the costs from minimum wage increases and the Carbon Levy, businesses need all the help they can get to stay competitive.”

    The Chamber was also encouraged by the government’s commitment to maintaining the investment tax credits that were created last year.

    The Chamber would have like to see room in this budget for investment into Southern Alberta’s transportation infrastructure. Karla Pyrch, the Executive Director of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce, explains:

    “Our region is in a position to really grow. Both the Federal and Provincial governments are looking for ways to diversify our economy so that we are less reliant on commodity prices in the future. Our region can be a global leader in agri-food production, but we need our governments to invest now into better roads, rail, and air infrastructure so that producers can get their products to new markets, faster and cheaper. If we can do that, it will drive growth in our whole region and benefit everyone. We’re going to continue to advocate for this going forward.”

    Alberta needs to come to terms with the fact that we’ve got a spending problem, made worse by a decade of good times and high royalties.

    “We don’t know if or when we will see a return to high oil prices,” said Gross. “The business community would rather see the government assume that today’s oil and gas prices may be the norm for future years rather than continuing down the current path in the hopes that things will sort themselves out if they hang in there.”

    For more information, contact Peter Casurella by telephone at 403-849-7225 or by email at policy@lethbridgechamber.com.

    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce

    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is The Voice of Business, promoting and enhancing a healthy economic and social environment in our region by serving the interests of business. We represent over 750 businesses and over 10,000 employees in the Lethbridge area.

    For more information on this initiative, please contact Peter Casurella at 403-327-1586 or by emailing policy@lethbridgechamber.com

  • Past Media Releases Past Media Releases

     


    The Opportunities Canada Needs to Build the Next 150 Years of Business Success

    Lethbridge, Alberta, February 16, 2017—In a year of political and economic

     

    uncertainty, the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, has identified Ten Ways to Build a Canada That Wins, a list of key opportunities Canada can seize right now to regain its competitiveness, improve its productivity, and grow its economy.

    “Our list outlines specific recommendations on what Canada can do better, and the opportunities to improve our economic success. Canada can’t sit still while our competitors run laps around us. We need every advantage, and the Canadian Chamber will work with government to put these new measures in place,” said the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “If we take advantage of these opportunities, we’ll give our businesses new tools to ensure their growth and success.”

    In this fiercely competitive world, business needs more than its own skills to win—it also needs supportive environmental and public policies to encourage competitiveness. This new version of an annual Canadian Chamber report moves away from identifying self-inflicted wounds that have prevented Canada’s economy from achieving its full potential and instead describes the opportunities for us to do better.

    “The world is shrinking and Southern Albertan businesses need to be competitive internationally. All of the measures identified in the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s document would help drive this competitiveness,” said Harry Gross, President of the Board of Directors for the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve emphasized opportunities that touch Canada’s internal economy, from reducing the cost of doing business to dismantling internal barriers to trade. What we need now is a commitment to get the job done.”

    “As we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, we can look back at the essential role business played in shaping our country. But as we look forward, it’s clear we’ll need every advantage to continue building a more prosperous country. These ten opportunities can provide a foundation for the next 150 years of Canadian business success,” said Mr. Beatty.

     

    Consult the Ten Ways to Build a Canada That Wins document.

    http://www.chamber.ca/advocacy/ten-ways/

    Watch a short video on the Ten Ways to Build a Canada That Wins.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8jN34mkK0s

     

    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce

    The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is The Voice of Business, promoting and enhancing a healthy economic and social environment in our region by serving the interests of business.

    The Canadian Chamber of Commerce

    The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 200,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. News and information are available at Chamber.ca or follow us on Twitter @CdnChamberofCom

    For more information on this network initiative, please contact Kevin Farrell at 403-327-1586 or by emailing kevin@lethbridgechamber.com