Musquodoboit Harbour gets a brand new Chamber of Commerce with help from Senator Tom McInnis and the Sheet Harbour Chamber of Commerce.
There’s no end to the publishing of reports on the dire conditions of rural society, from rural Canada as a whole down to the “Now or Never-ness” of Nova Scotia’s own Ivany report. But at least on the Eastern Shore, there’s some new blood in the Musquodoboit Harbour area behind efforts to grow the region’s economy by getting people and local businesses better organized.
The Eastern Shore already has one Chamber of Commerce, the Sheet Harbour & Area Chamber of Commerce & Civic Affairs. By the end of April, there will be a second Chamber on the scene, the Musquodoboit Harbour & Area Chamber of Commerce & Civic Affairs (MHACCCA), covering the area from Gaetz Brook to West Ship Harbour.
That the names are similar is no coincidence. Last fall, the Musquodoboit Harbour & Area Community Association (MHACA) hosted a community meeting on November 9th at the Petpeswick Yacht Club to talk about the benefits of forming a Chamber of Commerce for the Musquodoboit Harbour area. The featured speaker was Senator Tom McInnis, who had founded the Sheet Harbour Chamber and guided its growth into a powerful advocate for business and community development.
The more than 70 people at the November 9th meeting decided to establish a steering committee to establish a Chamber in Musquodoboit Harbour. The members of this committee were Rhonda Marks, Kent Smith, Margo Hudson, Scott Rowlings, Dwayne Sawchyn, and Mike Young.
After a string of weekly meetings, the committee decided that the quickest route to starting up was to revive an earlier business organization, the Musquodoboit Harbour & District Board of Trade, which began in 1980.
“We searched Joint Stocks and discovered that even though there had been a request to strike the Board of Trade from the books, no one had ever done it,” explained Steering Committee member Kent Smith.
“We liked the idea of being connected to the history of the Board of Trade, Smith said. “So we took all the necessary steps to reinstate the organization, we revised and updated the bylaws, and then followed the procedure for changing the name to the MHACCCA, which became effective on March 17, 2015.” The six members of the steering committee then became the first 6 of 12 board members.
The new society has also made formal application to become a member of the Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce, which presides over all the local Chambers.
“We’re all very excited about all of the possibilities,” Smith said. “I know the value of networking from my own business (Eastern Shore Cartage), and I’m a big supporter of buying local. We have plans for a business directory on our web site to help people find businesses that are Chamber members. And there’s lots of other things in the works.”
Smith said that the early response had been very positive. “We really didn’t know what to expect when we started soliciting memberships. But in only a few weeks, we’ve already gotten 30 members, and we’re just beginning.”
The MHACCA is holding three meetings at the end of April, at the third of which the members will elect the remaining six board members. Smith said that in order to vote, you have to have attended at least one meeting, and paid your dues. Membership is open to individuals, associations, and businesses. Annual membership fees range from $15 (seniors, students, and youth) to $150 for small businesses.
So the meetings on April 21st (at the Eastern Shore Community Center, 7-9 pm) and April 23rd (at the Oyster Pond & Area Volunteer Fire Department Hall, 7-9 pm) are opportunities for people to become full voting members at the April 26th meeting to elect board members (at the Eastern Shore Community Centre, 2:30-4:30 pm).
“We’ve invited Senator McInnis to chair the April 26th meeting,” Smith said, “because of all of the help he’s given us in getting started.” In the meantime, members of the Chamber and the Community Association have been talking regularly about how the most effective ways for coordinating their various activities. And discussions are underway about setting up a Chamber of Commerce in Middle Musquodoboit in the not too distant future.
For more information on the MHACCA, or to apply for membership, please go to the website at http://musquodoboitharbourchamber.com, or the Facebook page (Musquodoboit Harbour & Area Chamber of Commerce & Civic Affairs).