In our final instalment celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce, we chat with current President Ami Ballman and Executive Director Marilyne Aalhus.
Ami Ballman, Chamber President (since May 2023)
What company do you work for and what is your title there?
I am co-owner of RARE Cannabis Co.
How would you say any of your previous jobs prepared you for this role?
As small-business owners, we constantly face new challenges and opportunities that drive us to develop and apply many different skills daily: tenacity, creativity, passion, empathy, discipline, leadership etc. In addition to these skills, I bring a fresh perspective and a genuine interest in seeing the Chamber and its members thrive.
Why do you belong to the Chamber?
Being part of this Chamber is truly special. It offers the opportunity to be inspired and to find camaraderie and connection with fellow business owners, experts and leaders across diverse industries. Serving as president allows me to actively contribute to driving positive outcomes for businesses through advocacy, facilitating connections and fostering innovation. It allows me to leverage my experience as a business owner to help bring about meaningful, tangible changes for both businesses and our community.
What has been your biggest takeaway so far in terms of challenges and opportunities for the Airdrie Chamber?
From inflation to labour shortages, these are just a few challenges facing business across all industries. Identifying the challenges most pressing to the business community gives the Chamber an opportunity to provide support through different avenues like workshops, events and advocacy efforts. For the last 50 years, the Chamber has been the voice of business, and, as we continue to grow and expand our reach, there are more opportunities than ever for the Chamber to represent, promote and enhance the interests of our business community.
Marilyne Aalhus, Executive Director (since 2018)
Why do you think it’s important for businesses to belong to their local chamber of commerce?
There are so many reasons for businesses to belong to their local chamber, but I will list the ones that stand out the most.
- Networking opportunities
- Business visibility
- Advocacy and representation
- Educational resources
- Access to business services
- Community involvement
- Credibility and trust
- Influence and leadership development
What were some of your highlights/best memories with the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce?
I have so many amazing memories over the last five years of working at the Airdrie Chamber that include collaborating with an extremely committed and engaged board of directors, to building our small, but mighty staff of four. Ultimately, my fondest memories come from working with our members and business leaders who have made our chamber what it is today.
We have such an incredible range of professionals throughout our region that have proven time and time again that they are committed to making our community a great place to live and work. I love celebrating our businesses and non-profits at our annual Airdrie Business Awards, and our Women in Business Conference always energizes me to set new and more challenging goals each year. All our events are meaningful, but I also get excited when our advocacy committee has a policy win.
Knowing that we have played a small part in creating positive change in helping businesses thrive in our region and beyond is what makes the Chamber network so powerful and necessary. Overall, I love my work and the work that chambers do. I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to lead our organization and can’t wait to plan what’s next to come.
Looking in your crystal ball, what do you see as the future for the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce?
Looking towards the future, I see our Chamber expanding more into our region, offering new events and programming in the Balzac business area while continuing to offer all the valuable services we now host in Airdrie. Our Chamber currently serves 625 members throughout the region, and we plan to build on that. We know that there is strength in numbers and we will be working hard to grow our membership so that more businesses can rely on the important work our Chamber does.