Feb. 13-17 is Chamber Week in B.C. and Ritu Khanna, executive director of the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce, shares why businesses are ‘the heart and soul of a community.” (Contributed photo)

Feb. 13-17 is Chamber Week in B.C. and Ritu Khanna, executive director of the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce, shares why businesses are ‘the heart and soul of a community.” (Contributed photo)

South Surrey and White Rock celebrate Chamber Week Feb. 13-17

‘Businesses are the heart and soul of a community’: Ritu Khanna

Back in 1937 when the Chamber of Commerce representing many of the Semiahmoo Peninsula’s businesses was established, it was the Golden Age of radio, with the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Fred Astaire and Duke Ellington among some of the musicians heard regularly across the airwaves.

Now more than 85 years old, the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce has represented a constantly changing variety of businesses in the local community for more than 80 decades, supporting them in various ways through fair and foul weather, fires and floods, and even through the Second World War, all the way up to the more recent COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s why chambers throughout the province will celebrate the significant role they play in their respective communities during Chamber Week Feb. 13-17, said South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce executive director Ritu Khanna.

“Businesses are the heart and soul of a community,” she added.

“I think sometimes what people forget is, that it’s people behind the business – usually local people who love and care about the community who are raising their families in the community and they’re providing a service or a product they believe in.”

The SS&WR Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit, membership-based organization that operates with three pillars in mind: supporting, promoting and advocating for its members, Khanna noted.

The chamber supports local businesses with a significant amount of resources and services, such as its employee group insurance plan, which is one of the best plans in the country, Khanna said.

READ ALSO: Nominations now open for Business Excellence Awards

“It’s connected to every chamber across the country – you could be a sole proprietor and sign onto the plan and it’s like being part of a large corporation.”

Discounts for gas, payroll, payment processing, legal services, human resources and more are also available to Chamber members.

Promoting local businesses is something else the chamber is always doing, whether through social mixers, usually held at a local business, round table meetings (based on the business sector) or community town hall meetings.

Additionally, every election — because they’re a non-political, non-partisan organization — they host all-candidates forums as a service to the community, without charge.

“The community can always rely on the chamber to provide that opportunity for their own engagement in the democratic process,” Khanna said.

When it comes to advocacy, Khanna said the Chamber does so at every level of government, where they represent local businesses as part of different committees as well as being part of the B.C. and Canadian Chambers of Commerce.

“That connects our local community to businesses communities across the province and across Canada,” she said, adding the chambers develop and present policies to the government to support local businesses.

“We help promote and support and advocate for every issue and every size of business. So if you are a home-based business owner or sole proprietor to a restaurant, café, retail, professional services or a large corporation, we’re able to represent you.”

From the Peninsula’s professional and legal services to incredible international cuisine, unique retails shops, health services and a thriving arts and culture community, White Rock and South Surrey offer “every single type of service you need.”

READ ALSO: South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce to host virtual COVID-19 town hall

During the COVID-19 pandemic, with so many people and businesses affected, many organizations slowed down, she noted.

“We ramped up and we were never busier, because we wanted to make sure that businesses still had points of connection and support,” Khanna said.

The chamber introduced virtual community town halls, brought in speakers from Fraser Health and WorkSafe BC, among others, and also introduced Chamber Chats – weekly networking calls to give the local business community the opportunity to support one another.

Because they were so popular, the chamber is bringing back Chamber Chats, she noted, with the first happening Feb. 14 and the second scheduled for March 14, with a further schedule yet to be determined.

Khanna highlighted diversity as one of the chamber’s focuses as well, noting they are always looking for ways to “reflect back what our local business community is.”

Plus, having the location the SS&WR Chamber of Commerce does is a highlight on its own.

South Surrey and White Rock represent an important economic hub within the Fraser Valley and Vancouver area because, as a border community, “we have a really important economic role to play in the region and the Chamber is an important part of that,” she said.

“We’re right on the water, with views of gorgeous mountains – we are in a really special place. And we’re right on the border,” she said.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Be Among The First To Know

Create a free account today, and start receiving free newsletters.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.

Don't have an account? Click here to sign up
Pop-up banner image