What is the #ChamberLocalVicBC Campaign? Bruce Williams explains.

Bruce Williams
Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Williams

A few months ago, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce began work on a promotional campaign aimed at revisiting the idea of “shop local.” We’ve all heard this phrase, and similar ones, for many years and in many different contexts. Each of us has our own sense of what is meant by “local,” but how does our definition compare to what others think?

The #ChamberLocalVicBC campaign is meant to start a dialogue about defining local. We want to know how we can embrace this idea, to better understand what it means to be local and what we can do to help the people who own and operate businesses in our region. Please watch for our posts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Why is local important?

When we asked our members what local means to them, one of the themes that emerged is that local is about being present in the community — company founders who were born and raised in the region; leaders that support and contribute to their neighbours; businesses that exist to tell stories about people and places on south Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea. When you support local, you’re supporting a tangible part of your community. This is not a theoretical exercise — it really is about creating opportunities for your neighbours and your kids to be able to live here and make a living. It’s about supporting people who operate businesses that keep dollars in our local economy. It’s also about the future, giving these businesses their best shot at persevering through COVID-19 and being there as the backbone of our business economy moving forward.

What is Chamber Local?

We chose Chamber Local as a way to differentiate our campaign. As the largest member-based business organization on Vancouver Island, we have a unique opportunity to hear directly from the entrepreneurs and employers who are Chamber members, the ones who fuel Greater Victoria’s economic engines. It’s the same reason we can be such a powerful voice for business. We represent a constituency of members who sign the pay cheques and support the supply chains that are fundamental to prosperity. If you have goods or services you can’t do without, chances are you can thank a Chamber member for enabling that experience.

How can we make people consider local as a better option?

The idea of the campaign is to make people think, to raise awareness that will lead to healthy decisions. Local is truly healthier — for the environment and our quality of life, for individual opportunities and for ensuring we have a sustainable economy. It’s also inclusive. Any discussion of local requires the participation of First Nations and immigrants. As the pandemic has shown, indigenous communities can teach us a lot about how to live on these lands in a way that respects each other as well as generations to come. Immigrants show us perspective on our place as an inclusive and diverse community. Local is not about creating cliques or being parochial. Far from it. Local is about supporting everyone in our communities because we are all part of the same ecosystem.

What does local mean to you? Is it shopping at a store where they know your name? It is buying local produce from local suppliers? We all need to challenge ourselves to think about what local means to us, and we must find ways to be creative in order to support each other. Take the #ChamberLocal challenge to change your buying patterns, you won’t be sorry you did so.