Manitoulin Chamber of Commerce closes doors, transfers assets to MTA

MANITOULIN—Mindemoya’s Owen Legge deserves full kudos for effort, but the Manitoulin Chamber of Commerce advocate finally called it a day, announcing that the doors were closing on the Island chapter of the Chamber and that its remaining assets would be transferred to the Manitoulin Tourism Association.

“It was time,” admitted Mr. Legge, who noted that the limited size of the local business community and the availability of volunteers to help the organization find its feet had made it a constant challenge to set deep roots. “There just wasn’t the people to make it work.”

“In the long term view we will have to assess our role and what we will be doing to meet the needs of the Chamber businesses,” said MTA spokesperson Stan Ferguson, who said that he regarded the creation of one entity for the entire Island to be a positive development going forward. “It makes the most sense to me,” he said. “Any business on Manitoulin is really depending on tourism in one way or another.”

One avenue being considered by the MTA is the concept of increasing the number of workshops being offered with information pertinent to Island businesses, supplied MTA manager Shelba Millette.

One of the as yet unanswered questions is what will happen with those local businesses that utilized the Chamber’s insurance and benefit programs for their employees. “That is still a work in progress,” said Mr. Ferguson. “I am sure it will be worked out, we just don’t know how that will be done yet.”

One option being floated is for those businesses to join the Espanola chapter of the Chamber of Commerce.

Due in large part to the limited size of the local business community, and the fact that everyone was very busy at the same time in the season, it had been difficult for the Manitoulin Chamber of Commerce to stretch its resources to provide the services required by local businesses.

“The MTA has limited resources as well,” admitted Mr. Ferguson, “but I think, in the end, this will prove out to be a positive development for the Island.”

A June 15 news release under Mr. Legge’s imprint states, “After many years of dedicated service the Manitoulin Chamber of Commerce has officially closed its doors and ceased operation. On May 16, 2016, Manitoulin Chamber of Commerce President Owen Legge announced the dissolution of the Island Chamber, stating that with the new direction of the Manitoulin Tourism Association (MTA), that many if not all of the same services would be available to the Island business community.”

The press release went on to confirm that “the Manitoulin Chamber of Commerce has gifted all assets to the MTA, recognizing the viability of single Island-wide tourism business organization, and encourages past Chamber members to support this consolidation with their membership in the MTA.”