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New Salmon Arm chamber manager aims to rebuild connections with business community

Executive director Shelley Desautels wants to offer more networking opportunities
Shelley Desautels is the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce’s new executive director. (Contributed)

Shelley Desautels is working to raise the profile of the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce.

Relatively new to the chamber, having become a member at the beginning of 2022, the Salmon Arm business owner said she took on the role of interim executive director for the chamber in October, as the position had been left vacant. On December 16, Desautels was hired as the chamber’s new executive director.

While doing the job on an interim basis, Desautels said she really enjoyed the variety it offered, “being able to connect with people, supporting businesses.”

“Being new to the chamber, I have my own ideas, of course – having events and just building that business community is where I really want to see it.”

Over the past couple of years, with the pandemic and related restrictions and closures, Desautels said the chamber’s membership and presence in the community diminished.

“People have been asking, ‘What’s going on with the chamber?’” said Desautels. “So building that, telling people we’re here, we’re doing things, we’re here for you, we want to support you. We want to become that strong chamber because I think the chamber is integral to the community.”

Desautels noted Downtown Salmon Arm and the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society helped fill gaps left by the chamber, leaving the chamber to figure out where it needs to fit in.

“It might look a little different,” said Desautels. “Of course that advocacy piece, I want to build that up a bit more. I think that is building a trust, that we’re here to help them. And what does advocacy look like to different people too? I may have a different idea that what other businesses might.”

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The chamber recently held a Business After Business mixer, the first in a while, which Desautels said was successful and will once again be a regular occurrence. The popular chamber luncheons are also back on the menu.

“We have our first luncheon on Jan. 27, that will be Okanagan College talking about co-op students and how they can help businesses,” said Desautels. “Then we’ll have our mayoral address – that’s been kind of a really popular one every year. That one will be February 24.”

Stressing the importance of networking, part of Desautel’s strategy for building the chamber back up is meeting in person with business owners and find out how the chamber might be able to help.

“I want to be face to face with people, I want to meet and build relationships, I think that’s the most important part of it,” said Desautels. “It’s easy to send and email and say, ‘hey, sign up’, versus going and stopping and talking to some of the people, asking what are you looking for, what do you want from the chamber, how can we help you?”

For more information about the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce, visit the chamber’s website at, or Facebook page, call 250-832-6247 or email
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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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