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No business conference for shoulder season

Chamber looks to municipality for RMI funding for 2013 Outlook symposium

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The Whistler Chamber of Commerce has abandoned plans for its second annual business symposium in 2012 as it awaits word on RMI (Resort Municipality Initiative) funding from the municipality for 2013.

It has asked council for $100,000 in seed funding to help put on Outlook Economic Symposium 2013, and a further $50,000 in 2014.

"Because we won't have the confirmation of what we do or don't receive in time, we've decided to postpone the scheduling of Outlook 2012," said Chamber of Commerce president Fiona Famulak.

The request is part of a three-year fee-for-service application, designed to help the Chamber plan into the future.

"It's very difficult to plan for a year at a time, particularly when you have initiatives (like the Outlook symposium) that spread over the long term," said Famulak.

When asked if the RMI money was critical to putting on the conference next year, Famulak said:

"It hinges on funding wherever it may come from. If we aren't able to attract the RMI funding then we have to look at ways of attracting private sector sponsorship. But regardless of where it comes from the funding is essential to make this event happen."

The Outlook Economic Symposium is slated to be an annual, renowned business conference designed to drive visitation to the resort during the June shoulder season and raise Whistler's media profile.

Last year, its inaugural year, 200 people attended.

The Chamber has secured key partners for the long-term success of the event including the BC Chamber of Commerce, the Business Council of BC and the Northern Development Initiative Trust.

"This is a long term proposition," said Famulak.

The municipality has budgeted for $6.5 million in RMI funding this year — grant money it gets from the provincial government designed to boost tourism.

"Rather than rush in to Outlook 2012 we really want to take the time to engage those partners and make sure we've got the best minds at the table," said Famulak.

The symposium is part of the Chamber's $184,000 Economic Enhancement Strategy over the next three years. Included in that strategy is the monthly Whistler Report Card, which will provide a snapshot of the resort-wide economic activity.

The first report card is set to come out next month.

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