The South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce's former executive director Cori Lynn Germiquet (left) and president Jay Fettinger.

Economy blamed for chamber cuts

South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce no longer has an executive director, following 'difficult and immediate' decisions.

South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce no longer has an executive director.

Chamber president Jay Fettinger announced the elimination of Cori Lynn Germiquet’s position Thursday, citing recent changes in the economy had forced some difficult and immediate decisions regarding the organization’s operation.

Germiquet’s was just one of the positions eliminated, Fettinger notes in a statement.

“In order for the organization to remain sustainable it must make changes to meet the current times,” Fettinger says. “When faced with the challenges associated with an economic downturn, we must take a look at our operations, and make the necessary changes to ensure that our stakeholder’s best interests remain a priority.”

Reached at his office, Fettinger said he did not have time to comment further before Peace Arch News’ holiday deadline Friday afternoon.

Board treasurer Doug Robinson told PAN the suggestion to eliminate Germiquet’s position came from the recently hired Germiquet herself, during a special meeting of the board held Tuesday (Oct. 4) evening.

“She was the one that said this is what we have to do,” Robinson said. “She led the discussion. It was not crabby. It was what one would say is a disappointment event.

“It’s very sad and very unfortunate because she was doing a crackerjack job.”

Germiquet had replaced Doug Hart as executive director on May 16.

The chamber board is to meet next week to discuss the prospect of Hart returning on a volunteer basis to fill the gap in the interim.

Robinson said the financial position that necessitated the changes was not a surprise to the board.

Directors recognized a year ago that tough times lay ahead, he said.

“Should we have done it in March? Perhaps. But you never do these things soon enough.”

Robinson would not say how much the chamber is saving by eliminating the executive director’s position, and declined to comment on whether Germiquet had received severance.

He did say the remaining four paid staff have had their hours cut as part of the strategy; and the intent is to add an executive director back to the mix when finances improve.

The organization’s biggest expenses are rent and salaries, he noted.

“By making the changes that the board is making, we expect to be OK,” Robinson said. “You can’t sort of go along thinking you can get by with doing nothing.”

All other chamber events and operations will continue, he said.

Germiquet could not be reached, however, according to the news release, she recognizes such decisions are sometimes necessary.

“As a businessperson, I, too, in the past have had to make decisions such as this,” Germiquet says. “These decisions are never easy, but they are necessary and I applaud the board for having the courage to take such bold steps.”

 

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