a blog by Chamber and EDC Executive Director, Shane Spencer
Confusion and misunderstanding are often the primers for conversational disasters. So let me hit you with some knowledge about our Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Corporation of Canadian. It’s easy to get confused about the duties of each entity as they both are geared to serve the community and foster growth in our businesses. Big and small events, business expansions and openings throughout the year, it seems there is always a project underway in our office. Let’s take a look at each organization and how they run.
The Chamber of Commerce
The mission statement for the Chamber is, “Building a positive business environment while enhancing our community’s quality of life.” Sounds simple enough, right? Sure it is. We wanted it short and sweet, but the long version would be more like: A membership organization that focuses on supporting our businesses through grants, education, and promotion while also planning and delivering several quality of life events that benefit the entire community. That’s a bit wordy, but it is pretty close.
Now all of that sounds kind of easy but actually pulling it off takes a lot of effort, not just on our part either – but by our members and the people of the community. We’re all in this together and we all have the privilege of working together to accomplish each goal. We might start the morning answering a phone call from a little old lady who wants to know what the weather is going to be today. Then, go look at a member’s business and discuss with them the best place for a new sign they are installing. We might spend the afternoon with businesses teaching them how to better market their products. Then end the day with a question about when the rodeo is this year. You never know exactly what you’re going to get!
These are all good examples of what we do daily, but the Chamber also funds and manages many of the local events that we enjoy here in Canadian. The 4th of July Celebration, Fall Foliage Festival, Music in the Park, and Screen on the Green are just a few of the many events throughout the year. In order to fund all of this stuff that the Chamber does, let’s see where the money comes from and how we can use it. Along with membership dues and event revenue, the Chamber relies on a portion of the Hotel Occupancy Tax that is administered by the City of Canadian. We are allowed to use this source of funds for specific programs and events only. We are allowed to accept donations as well. Put all of this together and we have a very diverse budget with several revenue streams all of which have several uses. Overall, the Chamber is a great advocate for our businesses and loves serving the community with fun, unifying events.
The Economic Development Corporation
What’s more confusing than the Chamber’s functions? Yep. The EDC. I’ve had people come in our office and straight up assume that I can just write them a check for whatever their business needs. Oh ,and they need the money right then. I’ve been a heart-breaker for some, and an eye opener for others. After I go over the qualifications with them, it makes sense. So, I hope this helps you understand what it is that we do at the EDC.
Simply put, the core role of the EDC is to create jobs. There are several ways to do that. Incentives, tax abatement, land sales, infrastructure, etc. Now, while that all sounds pretty straightforward, there are many caveats to that. We can’t just hand out money because we think it’s a good idea or that it’s what the community wants. We are bound by state laws on how we can administer the funds for projects. They have to meet certain requirements in order to secure funds. Our funds come from a portion of the sales tax that is collected inside the city limits. You might think “Oh, just like the hotel tax.” Nope. The ways you can spend sales tax are completely different from the Chamber’s Hotel Occupancy Tax. Here’s an example. A guy wants to start a new business. Let’s say it’s a bike shop. He needs a building downtown on Main. He requests that the EDC buy him all new carpet and tile for his store because the building needs updated. His buddy told him that the EDC can buy all that for him. Not true. However, that’s not where I stop and say “nope can’t help you.” I have ways to help. I would ask him how many jobs he is going to create with his new business because we have job grants that could be available to him. Or we can help with certain infrastructure of his building that would help get his business open, like a new delivery dock on the back for trucks to bring in his product. We would require that his bike shop would create a certain amount of jobs over several years, but ultimately we can find a way to help. There are even ways to help businesses and companies that do not require creation of jobs. We can also offer micro loans to businesses to help fill the gap in funding that they may find when they search for capital at a bank. Another project example: a large company is looking for property to build a facility here in Canadian. It needs 20 acres of land and is going to provide 50 jobs. They would make a request for help from the EDC to help build the road that will go from the highway to the entrance and also help with running the utilities to the facility. The EDC would determine if this is a qualified project, what we can help with, and what performance agreement is needed to facilitate the deal. So, again the goal of the EDC is to create and retain jobs in our community and recruit new businesses.
While both entities operate under different laws and requirements, we manage them under one roof here at the Visitor’s Center in downtown Canadian. Don’t be afraid to come ask us how we can help. We are always eager to help you get your business where you want it to be.