What drew Ed Attridge to Trail was the upswing in what he calls “CED,” or Community Economic Development.
Now one month in as executive director for the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce, Attridge is loving Kootenay life as he focuses on his day job, which is to back the organization’s membership of 251 businesses located from Rossland to Trail and the Beaver Valley.
Now a two-person operation, Attridge and newly-hired assistant Charleen McPhail, are looking ahead to a new year and new challenges, which they see as opportunities for the chamber to grow.
“My expectation for the chamber moving forward is that providing benefit to the membership will continue to be the highest priority,” Attridge began. “However, the chamber also needs to continue to embrace the notion of providing benefit to the community as a whole,” he said.
“Therefore, we will continue working with partner and potential partner organizations with an eye to what we can contribute. Trail is blessed with having so many quality people and organizations working towards the betterment and prosperity for the community and the region, and I very much look forward to working with these people and organizations.”
Attridge has already met with local groups that focus on economic growth in the region, such as Community Futures Greater Trail, the LCIC (Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation) and the LCCDTS (Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society).
He says these types of economic-focused resources didn’t exist when chambers first began – the Trail organization turns 118 this year – so in today’s world, chambers of commerce must strive to remain relevant.
“We are a membership, so that comes first,” he emphasized. “But chambers have evolved over the years (into) community outreach and partnership. Bringing benefit to the community, and more the region, is also part of our mandate so that’s what we hope to see, that’s my intention. And with my background in CED, the chamber is a component of the overall community development when you look at the business community – business communities provide stability and sustainability.”
Attridge brings with him knowledge gained from working as an executive director for a non-profit community revitalization charity in Wolseley, Sask. A key role he filled was as coordinator for a provincially-driven main street revitalization program.
But after seven winters in Saskatchewan, he and his wife were ready to move back to B.C.
“We researched several regions … and the West Kootenay was shown to be very progressive regarding CED, and it was an area we identified as holding employment opportunity clusters,” he said. “The region also ranked high in other areas of our interest as much of our spare time is spent in the great outdoors …so we feel that Trail was an excellent choice.”
CED refers to a field of study that actively elicits community involvement when working with government, and private sectors, to build strong communities, industries, and markets.