Air Service Top Priority For Chamber
“There is no doubt the number one priority is air service-good air service-to this community.” New Chamber of Commerce president Barrie Hodgson put strong emphasis on the “good” as he outlined the job he and his executive faces. In an interview a week before the installation of the new executive of the Chamber-that happens tonight at the Ukrainian Orthodox Auditorium starting at 6:30 p.m.-Hodgson emphasized that if Yorkton is to grow over the next 10 or 20 years, proper air service is an absolute necessity. And “proper” air service means connections with Winnipeg and Saskatoon, tying in with national and international flights there. While air service is being pushed primarily by the city and the business community, it is also of interst to local citizens-at-large, because a lot of travelers head east or south from here. The first lef of the journey-from Yorkton to Winnipeg-has been the toughest part of the trip in past years. Hodgson says. But what does he say to those who claim air service isn’t that important because it doesn’t put money in the till of local businesses, and into the pockets of Yorkton residents? Hodgson admits, as have his predecessors, that perhaps the Chamber hasn’t been doing all it should have to promote the services and facilities available in Yorkton. And a new advertising and promotion program being implemented this year will be aimed at that complaint. But, Hodgson adds, air service will help the community, because it will bring more business to Yorkton and it will make it easier to attract conventions. He sees the Agriplex as an ideal convention headquarters, and large meetings here do bring in dollars-the average convention headquarters, and large meetings here to bring in dollars-the average conventioneer spends about $99 a day, studies have shown. ‘They’re all related,” he says, referring to air service, promotion, and the job of attracting conventions to Yorkton. but to spend more on Chamber programs, more members will be needed to provide the financing through membership fees and to provide the manpower. Last year, the Chamber had a membership of 250-half of the potential-and this year Hodgson is aiming for 325. Having only half the businesses in Yorkton as members is a “totally unacceptable situation” he says. And a lot have never joined only because they’ve never been asked, he feels. What is the greatest challenge facing him, and his executive?” In the retail sales area, he notes, there are three separate organizations: at the Broadway Park Plaza, downtown, and at the Parkland Mall. Hodgson realizes they will complete and each have their own promotions, but he would like to see at least two city-wide promotions, with everybody pulling together and using a common theme. And industrial development work will have to be revived, requiring an active organization preferably spearheaded byt he city, but with enough funding to attract industry and business to Yorkton. Hodgson feels that Yorkton is well-served by its business community. There is a good cross-section of all types of business, but he agrees that the Chamber should look at itself regularly “to find holes, and then attract the business to fill that hole.” For instance, he notes, the chamber gets complaints that there is no 24-hour has station int eh city. And, he says, there is always a need for training of clerks, waitresses and other business employees who meet the public. “We should do what we can to educate the people who are our ambassadors not only to travelers, but also to local people…” Hodgson is emphatic that it is in the interest of the entire city to have a strong business community, and he is convinced that the people of Yorkton realize that. Pointing out that business pays 60 to 65 percent of the tax load of the city, he states that strong businesses are a great help to the entire community. And while the work of the Chamber is often done quietly-briefs to governments, letters or phone calls to protest this, or encourage that-the monthly luncheons for members will continue as in past years. But the emphasis this year will be on local speakers, talking about things that affect local businessmen everyday, Hodgson promises. The first such luncheon in February will have an accountant as speaker, and a lawyer is scheduled to speak next month about changes in business legislation.