Where does one begin when looking at 2020 in a year-end review?

Kelly Sinclair, president of the Cochrane Chamber of Commerce says the greatest challenge she has seen local businesses face is the uncertainty of the situation caused by the pandemic. It has been quite a year, to say the least, and no doubt, the residual effects will persist into 2021.

Sinclair says that it has been inspiring to see local businesses rise above the adversity of the difficult year and meet the challenges head-on. She says she has seen inspiring coping strategies throughout it all. The first strategy undertaken by businesses was adapting to the fluidity of the situation.

“Businesses really quickly got creative with their own operations and just figured out ways to continue moving forward in what was certainly unprecedented circumstances,” says Sinclair.

The process of adaptation came about through sheer determination, commitment, and perseverance. Local businesses refusing to give up and morphing to the changing landscape caused by constantly changing health guidelines and protocols.

Sinclair notes, “There was so much commitment to their business, to the community and the people that their businesses serve in making sure they were able to continue moving forward.”

Sinclair says they saw a lot of collaboration amongst businesses in Cochrane in which they helped and supported each other. That collaboration extended to the chamber as well,

“We became even more collaborative. We worked very closely together with the town and with Cochrane Tourism on several initiatives. We pooled our resources together to support the business community and worked on things like the Open and Safe campaign.”

Sinclair points out that one of the things the chamber did early on was creating a space to host get-togethers for business owners to meet, collaborate, share ideas, experiences, and resources.

Of course, the Cochrane Chamber of Commerce and local businesses realize that none of the hurdles could have been cleared without the support of residents.

Sinclair says, “On behalf of the chamber and on behalf of the business community, we want to thank the residents within Cochrane. Because they stepped up in a huge way. The shop local spirit has always been strong in Cochrane, but it has really strengthened throughout this whole year.”

That spirit can be measured through the latest collaborative effort where the shop local challenge was initiated. The chamber and businesses asked members of the community to commit to spending at least $100 locally within Cochrane for the Christmas season.

“We had 135 people who officially subscribed to that and they committed together over $37,500 to our local economy just in the last few weeks,” says Sinclair.

Looking ahead to 2021, Sinclair says the chamber is very excited that they have newly hired, Executive Director, Kelly Carson signed on. He is connecting with all our business members and also other businesses within the community. Sinclair says the relationship will evolve with time and that connection.

“Will allow the chamber to do what we need to do in order to support them further and guide them through the challenges that still lie ahead of us.”

To say that 2020 was a challenge would be an understatement, but it did show the strength and resilience of our business community. Here is hoping that 2021 will be a profitable and successful year for all.