The Red Deer Chamber of Commerce has a new president and she has ambitious goals for the future of businesses in Red Deer.
“The theme for my presidency is succession planning and certainly I’m hoping over the next year to be able to offer opportunities in Red Deer for businesses to begin thinking about their futures,” said President Maureen McMurtrie.
McMurtrie said changing demographics will mean Red Deerians need to be thinking about the next generation. She said she plans to offer some educational seminars and expert materials to business owners to be able to look towards their exit strategy from their business. “We need to provide businesses information on everything from wealth strategies to what to do with the money after they sell or pass the business down.”
Some of the education McMurtrie plans to provide includes information from the accounting aspects of business to the legal processes involved in actually moving the business to the next generation.
“Encouraging businesses to begin the processes is key too because it takes time.”
McMurtrie said moving a business to the next generation can take anywhere from 18 months to a matter of years. She doesn’t want to see businesses leaving the idea of selling their business to the last minute because they may face selling at a discounted price or just closing up.
“We don’t want to see businesses closing their doors. Red Deerians have been good at starting and growing businesses and we don’t want to see those services lost.”
There are ‘soft’ issues that need to be dealt with when a business changes hands including the involvement of family and the question of whether or not employees or the family even want to take on the business.
“There needs to be a timeline put in place otherwise the potential buyer is sitting back wondering if they’re ever going to get to the helm of the business.”
The theme at the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce changes during each presidency based on the key areas the new president sees as being important.
“This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart because I work with businesses in financing all the time and it’s something I talk to the business owners about a lot.”
Ultimately, she said the focus of the Chamber is to identify the issues in the business community that they can then advocate to all levels of government.
“One issue I can see emerging goes back to the demographic shift and that is a labour shortage. Our committees are also looking at how difficult it is to bring in temporary foreign workers.”
McMurtrie said that because the Chamber is such a long-established and well run organization that she plans to continue building on the success of the previous president. “I hope to meet as many people as possible, and I hope they will seek me out at Chamber events and talk about issues so that we can make sure the Chamber remains at the pulse of the business community.”