The Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce submitted two policies at the BC Chamber AGM in Victoria last week and both were adopted unanimously. This was the first time that the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce submitted resolutions to the assembly.
May 31, 2017: Each year the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce attends the BC Chamber of Commerce AGM and actively participates in the policy sessions held during the 2.5 day conference but this year in Victoria was particularly exciting for our local chamber; for the first time ever they submitted not one but two resolutions. The resolutions that were adopted by the assembly of 220 delegates from all over BC are related to driving and supporting economic development not just in the Columbia Valley but throughout British Columbia.
The first policy addressed Improving Capital Raising Exemptions for B.C. Co-Operatives. There is an opportunity to increase the retention and circulation of British Columbian’s hard-earned money in our own Province that will lead to meaningful job creation, increased provincial tax revenues, increased local wealth and economic resiliency. Co-operatives are democratic corporations with considerable investor protections and director accountability mechanisms built into the legislation under which they are incorporated. However there are current restrictions that limit the positive economic impact of Co-ops therefore the CVCC recommended that the Provincial Government:
- Make changes to the existing co-op securities regulations by amending BCI 45-530: a. Increase the $5,000 cap per investor by raising to a higher maximum, or allow a $5,000 maximum contribution per calendar year;
- Remove the 12-month membership requirement for purchasing investment shares;
- Significantly increase the maximum number of investors allowed in an Community Investment Co-op (currently capped at 150); and
- Establish a total investment portfolio level where BC Co-ops would be required to use the Offering Memorandum exemption under the BC Securities Act.73
The second resolution submitted was titled Mobilizing Rural Investment Capital; access to investment capital is crucial to business and economic development anywhere – but is especially important in rural areas. However, research initiatives completed by Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition (SIBAC), and other organizations, have noted that it is often difficult to access business financing – and specifically patient equity investment financing – in rural communities. Access to financing was the leading barrier to business expansion identified by business owners in a recent survey conducted by the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute.
The CVCC recommended that the Provincial Government create a BC Community Economic and Development Investment Fund (CEDIF) program, which would enable individuals within BC communities to pool their capital together and invest in local for-profit entities. These funds would be controlled by a local group of officers and directors, who may be chosen by the founders of each CEDIF or by the CEDIF’s investors at an annual general meeting.
The opportunity to submit these policies came from discussions with chamber member Eden Yesh of Kootenay Employment Services who has been working for a number of years with SIBAC to enable local investment in small businesses and co-ops throughout the Kootenays. Eden has worked tirelessly to enable the creation of the Creston & District Community Investment Coop that provides short-term capital to businesses looking to launch or expand, and assist the ventures in establishing a supportive customer base and a sustainable operation for their concept. “We’d like see those types of opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors right here in the Columbia Valley,” said CVCC President Peter Smith “so Susan worked with Eden and Gordon Borgstrom (SIBAC) to craft two policies that were ultimately supported by the BC Chamber Policy Review Committee and we are very pleased to say were adopted unanimously by the delegates at last week’s BC Chamber AGM.”
“We would like to thank the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce for their leadership in sponsoring these important BC Chamber of Commerce resolutions”, added Rhona Martin, SIBAC Chair, “the SIBAC Board believes that developing new models to encourage local investing is vital to rural development in BC”.
“I was impressed at the level of professionalism and influence at the BC Chamber AGM.” says Eden Yesh. “We were all enthusiastic when the two policies were passed unanimously, without amendments or opposition. This goes to show that increasing access to capital and enabling residents to invest locally are both concepts that are supported universally throughout the Province – urban and rural.”
The next steps to having the recommendations adopted by the BC Government are all about advocating with government. The BC Chamber staff will send the Minister of Finance, Minister of Jobs Tourism and Skills Training and the Minister of State for Rural Development a letter referencing these policies and whenever they have an opportunity to meet with the ministers they will include the policies in their discussion. “With the power of the BC Chamber network we are optimistic that these two policies will get traction within the provincial government particularly given that access to capital is included in the mandate for the Rural Advisory Council and that a number of organizations throughout British Columbia are discussing the access to capital issue,” stated Susan Clovechok.
The Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce is an organization within the business community promoting and supporting responsible commerce through effective advocacy, communication, networking and education on behalf of its membership.