With a 15-year background in rural B.C. tourism and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, Audry Lochrie is ready to share her expertise with the Trail and district business community.
Challenges the city faces are similar to rural communities across the province, says the newly hired executive director for the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce (TCOC).
“But the main differences with Trail are tied to the environmental awards the smelter has won,” she explained. “And the incredible improvements this has made to the health of the town, and the people that live here.”
“(However), there is still a lack of awareness that Trail is a healthy place to live and visit and a place where you can bicycle and cruise the edible garden trail.”
Lochrie began her chamber role on Friday. She offers insight of Visitor Information Centres, like the one tucked away in the TCOC office, and experience as an economic development officer with federal, provincial, and corporate initiatives.
“Having lived in Grand Forks for 15 years, Trail was, and still is, the “go-to” town,” she said.
“Most recently having worked here for four-plus years, I have gotten to know the business community that is providing services to people that live and work here – and I am learning the history and culture.”
Lochrie recently collaborated with the newly formed Downtown Trail Business Group to develop a business improvement area, and initiated a promotional strategy and upcoming tourism branding session with the help of Tourism Rossland’s Deanne Steven.
She’s worked on the Welcoming Communities Project in Trail for the past five years,connecting essential service businesses and organizations with an expanded online resource for newcomers to the area called welcomemap.ca.
Another project she’s helped develop is welcomemat.ca. The free online and classroom training helps local businesses and organizations increase awareness about the recruitment and retention of people new to the Kootenay Boundary region.
“Having spent most of my adult life as a small business entrepreneur, I know the benefits of access to capital, especially for start-up / expansions, and am familiar with the projected skill shortage in the area and province,” she said.
“I have fifteen years experience developing tourism destinations and working with First Nations in their traditional territories by following protocols.
“These skills are relevant in developing the role a Chamber can play and are identified in the barriers for business by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in its Top Ten Barriers to Competitiveness for 2015.”
As she settles into her new role, Lochrie’s first order of business is to gather the board and staff to identify priorities and key initiatives, and meet with chamber members.
The first item she’ll tackle is determining the level of interest in conjoining with Rossland. The Alpine City’s branch dissolved last year.
“We will be asking our members to attend the Business Awards brunch on Oct. 24 in Trail to vote on expanding our area to include Rossland,” she added. “And to help celebrate our leading entrepreneurs.”
The chamber opens nominations for the 2015 Business Excellence Awards this week.
Until Sept. 20, businesses in operation within the Trail and district area (must have a Trail business are eligible for up to six awards. Those include Business of the Year, retail, customer service and trades service excellence, a non-profit community impact award, and a Professional Services Excellence Award.
Nomination forms are available at the chamber office on Bay Avenue or online, at trailchamber.bc.ca.