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Conversation

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Q. Who are you and how did you first come to be associated with the Swan River Chamber of Commerce as a business owner?
A. I own Wintoniw Enterprises, which operates Johnny’s Catering and Y Not Johnny’s restaurant. I also own Wintoniw Farms.
I have a lot of ties to the area and I am well invested in the community, not just the Town of Swan River but also in the Municipality of Swan Valley West.
I knew, as soon as I started my businesses, that being a member of the Chamber of Commerce would be a good decision and would be very important.
Since the beginning, there has always been a part of me that does what I do to give back to our community. And, to be part of the Chamber exemplifies this.
I also recognized that it brings businesses together to work collaboratively and as a team. It’s a special bond within the business community and that’s important to belong to.

Q. Why did you decide to join the board as a director?
A. When my career was first starting I didn’t have the time to become involved as more than just a member, although I always wanted to be.
Almost two years ago the Chamber was struggling for members, directors and its identity. I wanted to be part of helping to breathe new life into the organization and assist young entrepreneurs starting out and existing business owners.
I also saw that I couldn’t be the one to ask, “what does the Chamber of Commerce do for me?” when I didn’t do anything for them.

Q. For those that might not know, what exactly is the Swan Valley Chamber of Commerce and what do they do?
A. We are part of the larger Manitoba Chamber of Commerce and are an organization that advocates for local business and is there to assist those businesses.
We do this by bringing workshops and presentations to the area and also assist in every day commerce. There are options and there is assistance out there for whatever a business owner may be struggling with.
We are also wanting to expand our role and be a little more involved in economic development and assist with growth and with transition of business owners so that we don’t see loss of products and services in the Valley.
A. We really want to keep the entire business community on the same page and help bring promotions that will enhance sales and traffic to their business.

Q. Who can become a member?
A. I think there may have been some confusion on this in the past but we are constantly changing and working on our motto. We are signing up everything from store fronts and small business to individual professionals.
We have different rates for all of this but it’s all about keeping everyone connected and giving them the options to succeed. We are also looking to include farmers.
Once you are a Chamber member you get to reap the rewards, like the group insurance plan which has some of the best rates I’ve seen. It’s very valuable to become part of the group.

Q. As a business, what does the Chamber do for me?
A. There has been a stigma with that and I have heard the question asked more than once in my time as a member. Not always as a business are you able to see where your funds are going but there’s a lot that we do that isn’t obvious.
As a business owner, I want to see direct results but it’s hard without a big membership to do extravagant things. But, we are working on a big project in hopes of bringing in some extra funds to branch out and attract more potential customers to our Valley.
We’re doing a lot of restructuring to have more interaction with the businesses and the community.
We also run a Chamber Bucks program which allows anyone to purchase this ‘money’ that can be used at all participating businesses and encourages people to shop local and keep money in our community.

Q. As a community member, how does having a local Chamber of Commerce benefit me?
A. We work with our business owners to put on community-wide events, like the current Black Friday promotion, with hopes of providing community members with discounted prices at local stores.
We are also always available if the public has concerns or things they want to see happen or change. We are here to advocate for you as well because you are the ones that feed the businesses that operate.
We encourage everyone to become more familiar with the Chamber of Commerce building and the tourism office we operate. We’re always open to suggestions and we have a great website and Facebook page that we use to communicate with the public.
When you support the Chamber you support local business and the community as a whole.

Q. Why should a business owner consider becoming a Chamber member?
A. It’s not always about paying a membership fee. It’s about being part of that family of businesses and the relationship that is there.
We have so many programs that are becoming available and we are looking into the future. It’s going to be a great future and it is our hopes that all local businesses will want to be a part of it.
We’re here to stimulate growth in the Valley and by becoming a member, no matter what size your business is, you show the people of our community that you are committed to them and that you want to see the Valley succeed.