Content is King

April 10, 2014


As published in the Summerland Review, April 10, 2014

One of the key areas where the Summerland Chamber of Commerce works is Tourism.  We market our community as a tourist destination in local markets, in key Canadian and US markets and internationally.

For some time we’ve been working on the new dedicated tourism website, tourismsummerland, which will launch in a few weeks.   And as part of the process of gathering photos and information from our tourism related businesses, we’ve been evaluating our social media and the role of content in this digital age.

We all know that social media is a great way to communicate.  Marketing professionals have described it as a channel, similar to other channels such as T.V. or print media.  Others say it is ‘the new telephone’, allowing us to open a direct line of communication with our audience.  In the case of a business this is our customers or prospects.

It’s important to remember that social media is not a fad; it’s here to stay.  A stat from 2010 showed that even four years ago US internet users were spending 3X the amount of time on their social media and blogs then they did on their email.  And what they are reading/viewing is content – all the photos and information that they can find about the topics that interest them.  So if social media is the new telephone, think of content as the new brochure.

The new dedicated tourism website will be the largest promotional tool the Chamber will use to market Summerland to visitors.  In order to help drive traffic to the website and further promote Summerland, we also manage several social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Having so many different ‘telephone lines’ allows us to engage with a variety of social media users so they can find information about Summerland.  For example, the fastest growing demographic for Facebook is 45-54, and the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is 55-64. Both Instagram and Pinterest are dominated by younger users (18-35), and Pinterest is known for having a higher percentage of female users.  Our content (our brochure) needs to reach all of these people in the way they like best.

There are two ways to use social media: create your own content, or share someone else’s. We create a great deal of content here at the Chamber but we are always looking for more great content to share with our followers.   We follow the content generated by others in Summerland as we want to repost, retweet, and regram it.  This also drives traffic back to your website.

Remember, content can be a photo of your breakfast at a local café, a great blog post, or a tweet about an upcoming event.  The more shareable content we all create, the bigger the spotlight we can cast on our community.  If you are active on social media, please tag your photo or post with #visitsummerland to help us track and share your content.  If you want to learn more about social media, please call us and we’ll get you started.  After all, marketing our community is a shared effort.  We need your help!

Follow Tourism Summerland and help us follow you:

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at manager@summerlandchamber.com or our Chamber President, Arlene Fenrich, at president@summerlandchamber.com .

Christine Petkau is the Manager of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce. 



Chamber Speaks For Business Community

March 27, 2014

As published in the Summerland Review,  March 28, 2014

Last week, the Summerland Chamber of Commerce held our Annual General Meeting.  Like many non-profit organizations, our members don’t turn out in droves for this event.  They miss the great food and door prizes but more importantly they miss seeing all that the Chamber of Commerce accomplished on their behalf in the past year, where the budget was spent and what is planned for the coming year.

They also miss the opportunity to meet their new Board of Directors.  The Summerland Chamber of Commerce is the 3rd largest Chamber in the Okanagan after Kelowna and Kamloops and among the 25 largest Chambers in BC.  As well we are the largest membership organization in Summerland with more than 750 business, corporate and associate members.  As I shared at the AGM, the Chamber’s role in any community is to represent the interests of the business community and to advocate on their behalf.  We do that on a national level through the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, provincially through the BC Chamber network and here in our own community at the municipal level.

Through the nomination process outlined in our by-laws and communicated to members annually, voting members elect a Board of Directors charged with setting policy for the Chamber.  Here in Summerland the Chamber has done this for more than 75 years.  Much of the time, this process and the ramifications go unnoticed by members.  Occasionally though, the Chamber Board must take a stand on a particular issue and, as the elected Board, must speak on behalf of its members on matters that pertain to business growth and improvement.  Again, it is our bylaws that dictate that only the President of the Chamber (or their designate) is authorized to make the Chamber’s position on such issues publicly known.

This occurred at the recent public meeting regarding the District of Summerland’s proposed by-law amendments to the Official Community Plan.  At that time, I spoke from my personal perspective as a downtown business owner and also as the President of the Chamber elected to represent the interests of the business community.

We have communicated our support for the District’s proposal as it balances a number of important community priorities and is a reasonable and forward-looking solution for ensuring land is available in the coming decades for community growth.  The full text of our position was posted in our previous article.

In the last week, we have received communications from approx. 3% of local business license holders who communicated to us that they did not agree with the Chamber’s position on this issue.  We very much appreciate their efforts in writing and we acknowledge their position.  The Chamber Board cannot possibly know the wishes of the remaining 97% of our members, but as elected by them, must speak for the business community as a whole.

The Chamber understands that the current delay in the process will allow time to accommodate everyone who wishes to speak to the issue at a public forum.  This is commendable.

However, we also wish to communicate that delays of this kind send mixed messages about Summerland’s support for growth to the wider business community, to the agri-businesses that are interested in relocating in the proposed areas and to our citizens.

We encourage Mayor and Council to remain committed and to proceed with their progressive agenda of building our community.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at president@summerlandchamber.com or Christine Petkau at manager@summerlandchamber.com.

Arlene Fenrich is President of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.  All of the members of The Board of Directors serve as volunteers.


Chamber Supports Community Growth

February 27, 2014

As published in the Summerland Review February 27, 2014

At its recent February meeting the Chamber Board discussed an issue that is of importance to all of us, the District of Summerland’s new Urban Growth Strategy Report.  The District’s Director of Development, Ian McIntosh, walked the Board through a presentation detailing the history of our community’s growth, the variety of efforts that were made to reach and communicate with all members of our community and the resulting recommendations found in the report.

Following discussion among the elected Board members, we want to publicly share our position on this issue.  First, we applaud the extensive public engagement process that the District has gone through in order to prepare this report.  More than a year and a half of staff time has gone into this process and multiple efforts were made to connect with all of us, to hear our voices, and to listen to input from even the youngest members of our community – the ones that will have to live with our decisions.  It’s important to remember that while the consulting firm that supported these efforts was from out of town, the bulk of the work was done by people at the District that are long term residents of Summerland and just as passionate about our collective future as any of the rest of us.

The Board also welcomes and encourages the healthy debate that has resulted from the recent report.  It’s good to see that when something is important enough, we can stand up for what is meaningful to us.  However, given that Summerland is home to two national anti-bullying organizations, it’s also very important that as adults we model only the most positive of discussion methods, respectfully acknowledge that people with differing views are no less committed to the community and remember that our comments in public and on social media live long after we’ve spoken them.  As the organization that’s responsible for marketing Summerland, we particularly see how negative news stories affect our town.

Regarding the report itself, the Chamber supports the principals of the report that apply to businesses and our business members.  These include: efficient and cost-effective planning for Summerland, a farmer’s right to farm, enhancing our downtown area, recognition of the need for community growth, reduced greenhouse gases, efficient use of industrial areas, reduced costs for infrastructure, the densification of the downtown core and walking convenience to downtown stores and amenities for residents.

As many recent letters to the editor have pointed out, we need growth in Summerland and places for young families to live.  The proposed trading of a central parcel of ALR land for one that is further from the core is a reasonable way to gain the needed land to build in the coming decades.  The land proposed for the exchange is highly useful to at least two agricultural businesses, both of whom create jobs in our community.

Housing, jobs, an improved tax base, investment and development are all things Summerland needs in order to thrive.  It’s almost impossible to have all of these things at once; they will come to us bit by bit as we make efforts in each area.  We can achieve these things and still retain our attractive rural character. Continued carful long-term planning efforts are required to ensure this.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at president@summerlandchamber.com or Christine Petkau at manager@summerlandchamber.com.

Arlene Fenrich is President of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.  All of the members of The Board of Directors serve as volunteers.


Call for Nominations: Summerland Chamber Board of Directors

February 11, 2014


The Annual General Meeting of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce will be held Tuesday, March 11, 2014.  

Chamber members are invited to put forward nominations for the Summerland Chamber’s Board of Directors.

An opportunity to serve

If you know a local business person who you feel could provide direction and vision for Summerland’s growth, please nominate them for election to the Chamber Board.

Download a nomination form now, or pick one up at the Chamber Office at 15600 Highway 97.

In 2014 the Chamber Board has three (3) positions open for election/re-election, for 2 year terms. Nominations close at 3pm on Friday, February 21.

Attending the AGM

The Annual General Meeting will be held March 11, 2014, at Summerland Seniors Village.

  • Where: 12803 Atkinson Road
  • When: 5pm

Voting has begun!

February 9, 2014

Summerland Chamber members have begun to cast their votes for the 76th Annual Business and Community Excellence Awards. We invite you to take some time to read about these amazing finalists and learn more about their accomplishments and dedication to Summerland.

There are 10 categories, and each category features short profiles on the two finalists:

If you are a member of the Summerland Chamber and you have not yet voted, VOTE NOW! The deadline is 4pm, February 14. Chat about the awards on Twitter and Facebook using #slgala76.

Awards Gala: The Awards recipients will be announced February 22nd at the Awards Gala, which will be held at Summerland Waterfront Resort.


Chamber Recognizes Award Nominees

January 30, 2014

FB-Award-PosterAs published in The Summerland Review, January 30, 2014

Thank you to the community of Summerland for participating so fully in the nomination process for this year’s Business and Community Excellence Awards.  We have had almost 40 different businesses nominated, some in multiple categories.  The list is here.  Please take the opportunity to congratulate these individuals and check out their websites to learn more about them.  Our community thrives on local support so please also continue to purchase their products and services!

Here are the nominees in alphabetical order within their categories:

Business of the Year sponsored by The Summerland Credit Union: Bad Robot,  Crossfit South Okanagan, Dirty Laundry Vineyard, Good Omens, Local Lounge •Grille,  Okanagan Crush Pad, Summerland Builders Mart, Summerland Rental Centre.

Young Entrepreneur sponsored by Okanagan Crush Pad:  Jamie Ohmenzetter – Good Omens, Erin Trainer – ET2 Media.

Trade Services Excellence sponsored by Brown Benefits: GPH Mechanical, SIS Exteriors, Streamline Mechanical, Valley Wide Home Improvements Ltd.

Retail Excellence sponsored by The Summerland Review:  Bad Robot Computers and Electronics, Bead Trails, Crossfit South Okanagan, Pharmasave, Summerland Rental Centre , Summerland School of Dance.

Professional Services Excellence sponsored by the Bottleneck Drive Winery Association: Bad Robot Computers and Electronics, Nurse Next Door, Source Graphics, Sunoka Veterinary Clinic, Tones Hair Design.

Rising Star/New Business sponsored by RBC Royal Bank:  Beauty and the Brit, Cherry Tree Quilts, Frostybot Marketing Corp, Maple Roch/Roch Lobster, Mazza Innovation, Open Skies Media,  Soulfull Project, Spokes Clinical Naturopathy

Sustainability Leader sponsored by SummerGate Winery: Appleton Waste Services, ElectroMotion Energy, Grasslands Nursery.

Tourism/Hospitality Excellence sponsored by Sumac Ridge Estate Winery: Apples & Quails B & B, Bead Trails, Dirty Laundry Vineyard, Good Omens, Wagon Wheel Bistro.

Manufacturing/Industrial Excellence sponsored by Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen:  Algorithm Millwork, CERES Seed Oils, The Vinegar Works.

There is a group of very special individuals who it may be more difficult to look up on-line.  For this reason, I want to share a little more about the eight local individuals whose dedication to the community has been recognized with a nomination in the category of Citizen/Volunteer of the Year sponsored by Nesters Market.  Formerly known as the Good Citizen Cup, this award has been given out in Summerland since 1938.  Here are this year’s nominees:

Dale Belvedere: Dale began volunteering for the Summerland Red Cross Health Equipment Loan Program in 2009 and has received various awards for meritorious service and leadership for her work in this capacity.  She leads a team of 10 volunteers who say she has been outstanding in building awareness of the Red Cross in Summerland and garnering the support of other local agencies in the work of the Red Cross locally.  Dale also volunteers for the South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls where she serves on the Board, as well as various committees and is part of the team caring for sick and injured birds.

Erin Carlson: Erin is a local farmer who is active in the agricultural community.  In 2013 she volunteered to organize workers to pick the apple crop when Joe Sardinha unexpectedly passed away.  More recently, she has taken action to protect Summerland’s ALR land, creating an online campaign that has resulted in more Summerlanders learning about and taking action around this issue as well as coverage by Global News.

Irene Ferguson:  Irene is an active local volunteer who has been instrumental in the annual Poppy Campaign.  She volunteers in a variety of Legion activities and has been awarded a Lifetime Membership.  Irene also tirelessly gives of her time to: support patients at the Eye Clinic, raise funds each year for the Kids of BC organization, work in the Summerland Thrift Shop and call Bingo at the Seniors Centre.

Miriyana Klassen:  Miriyana makes a personal difference in the lives of her friends and neighbors and shows a genuine interest in the people she meets.  She is an organizer and will tirelessly make arrangements for anything that will bring people together for fun and fellowship.  She demonstrates continually her desire to contribute to the needs of the community as a whole and is very generous with her time, talents and finances.

Trevor Knowlton: Trevor is the President of Stop A Bully – a national charity and Canada-wide anti-bullying program.  He is dedicated to eliminating bullying across Canada and has appeared in front of the Canadian senate for his bullying expertise.   Trevor is also the recipient of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

Terry Rolston:  Terry is President of the Summerland Minor Hockey Association as well as a coach and has created a 5-year plan to increase the participation of youth in hockey so they can learn the leadership skills that come via organized sports.   Terry is also active as a coach and volunteer in the Summerland Baseball Association and is a very positive role model for local youth.  Terry also serves as Treasurer for the Penticton and District Community Resources Society where he has been involved for 7 years and is a Board member for the Keenan-Fly with Me Society.  He is motivated by his love for young people and his love of sports.

Deborah Silk: Deborah is passionate about the success of Critteraid, a local charitable organization dedicated to the welfare of abandoned and rescued animals.  She is actively involved in every aspect of the operations of Critteraid and is described as ‘a model for volunteerism, selflessness and dedication’.

Trent Slade: Trent is in his 9th year volunteering with S’land Scouts. He has just finished his term as Group Commissioner and is currently one of the Beaver Leaders, Scout Leaders and the Venturer Advisor. He is described as an inspiring and passionate teacher, creating a love for the outdoors and an “I can do it” attitude from his youth as well as other leaders.  He has received a number of scouting awards from the Governor General & Patron Scout of Canada.

The Mayor’s Award of Excellence continues to be an important acknowledgement of community leadership.  This award will be given at the Mayor’s discretion at the Gala to an organization that has made an outstanding contribution to Summerland.

Awards will be given out to the winners at the 76th Annual Awards Gala on February 22nd.  The Gala will be held at The Summerland Waterfront Resort.  Tickets are available from the Chamber office.

Thank you for taking the time to nominate a business or volunteer who has made a difference in our community.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at manager@summerlandchamber.com or our Chamber President, Arlene Fenrich, at president@summerlandchamber.com .

Christine Petkau is the Manager of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce. 


Five reasons to nominate a business for an award

January 8, 2014

It is the inspiration of the Olympic Games that drives people not only to compete but to improve, and to bring lasting spiritual and moral benefits to the athlete and inspiration to those lucky enough to witness the athletic dedication.” – Herb Elliott

In February, when millions of people around the world will be tuning in to watch the Winter Olympics in Russia, Summerland will also be celebrating its stars at the 76th annual Business and Community Excellence Awards on February 22nd.

_awardHerb Elliott was one of the world’s greatest middle distance runners, but his quote about inspiration and dedication can also be applied to other areas of life, including achievement in business and commitment to the community.

The Chamber is always promoting the practice of shopping local, and highlighting the way money spent at local small businesses cycles back into the community to create a more vibrant, connected economy. But there is something else you can do for your favourite local businesses or most beloved volunteer that won’t cost you a dime: nominate them for an award.

Business Award categories include Business of the Year, Sustainability Leader, Best New Business, Technology and Innovation, Professional Services, Retail, Tourism and Hospitality, Trade Services, Manufacturing/Industrial and Young Entrepreneur. There is also the Citizen/Volunteer of the Year award, which honours an individual who has given tirelessly to the community over the past year.

Need a reason to nominate a local business or community volunteer for an award? Here are five:

  1. Increased awareness. If you think more people should know about your favourite business, a nomination can help introduce that business to a wider audience. A nomination for an individual who volunteers for a local non-profit or club can draw more attention to that cause.
  2. Size doesn’t matter. One-person companies have the same eligibility to be nominated and to win as larger businesses. With 11 categories to choose from, you are also welcome to nominate in more than one category.
  3. The feel-good factor. Imagine how it makes a local business person feel when they learn they have been recognized for their hard work and have been nominated for an award. And many of us know a dedicated volunteer who never makes a fuss but who deserves to be recognized by the community.
  4. Encourage leadership. When a spotlight is placed on a business or a community volunteer that has gone the extra mile or shown exemplary innovation, it inspires others to set and strive toward big goals.
  5. Nominating is easy. Nomination information is being posted in the Summerland Review this week. You’ll also find the nomination form on the Chamber website:  Download a nomination form to print off, or fill one out online.

We invite you to attend the Gala Awards evening on Februrary 22 at the Summerland Waterfront Resort. Ticket reservations are available by calling the Chamber office.

We look forward to receiving your nominations!

Sophia Jackson
Membership Services and Events Coordinator


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