Committed to the Sustainable Development of Clarenville & Surrounding Areas.
The Clarenville Area Chamber of Commerce began in the 1960s by a number of local businessmen. These men assembled to discuss business issues of the day and were known as the Clarenville Business Association. Others were encouraged to join the association so that it could extend its influence to the surrounding area. Due to this encouragement, others joined and the Clarenville Business Association was renamed as the Clarenville Area Chamber of Commerce, with Eric Martin as its first president. The Chamber was registered by the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs in Ottawa on May 30, 1968, thereby giving it official status.
The improvement of Clarenville’s medical services was of the foremost interest to the Chamber. In the late 1960s, Clarenville did not have a medical clinic or a permanent physician. The Chamber resolved to establish a clinic in order to attract one of its visiting physicians, Dr. Albert O’Mahony. With the help of public donations totaling $12,000 and a local bank loan, a medical clinic was constructed. Dr. O’Mahony rented this clinic and became Clarenville’s first permanent doctor. In 1972, Dr. O’Mahony bought the clinic from the Chamber for $27,000, which was invested to be used for future medical facilities. The investment grew to $96,000 by 1989. At this time, a modern hospital had already been put in place. A decision was made by the Chamber to donate the entire investment to the new hospital to develop a room in the hospital and to purchase a CO2 surgical laser.
During the 1970s, the Chamber was involved in many projects to help stimulate the growth of Clarenville. One of these projects was the development of an Industrial Park to attract new businesses. After considerable lobbying of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, an Industrial Park was constructed at the west end of town, off Manitoba Drive. Another successful venture of the Chamber is the construction of an airstrip. Much research was done by Mr. Harry O’Gay to find a suitable site. His search took him to several sites in the area. Eventually, a location along the Cabot Highway, which is approximately nine miles from Clarenville, was selected. The Chamber then obtained a 50-year lease of the site from Crown Lands. However, it was not until 1983 that the Chamber received a grant from the Department of Social Services to clear-cut enough area for the strip. After extensive discussion by Mr. O’Gay with both federal and provincial officials about funding, an agreement was made whereby the federal government would provide commencement funding through grants and the province would provide maintenance for the airstrip thereafter. This allowed the Chamber to construct a paved runway (75 ft. x 3000 ft.) and install a remote-controlled lighting system at the site. The airstrip was completed during the summer of 1989.
A major focus of the Chamber in the 1980s was the development of a federal program known as Community Ventures. Ernest Warren was the driving force and the chairman of the committee for the Clarenville area. It was through his efforts that the Bonavista Peninsula & Surrounding Area Community Futures Committee (BPSACFC) became a reality in 1990. The committee was established in response to the area’s chronic unemployment situation. The BPSACFC is comprised of approximately eighty-eight communities and representatives from eleven organizations, including the Clarenville Area Chamber of Commerce. There were also many other ventures by the Chamber in the 1980s which proved to be worthwhile. One such undertaking was the lobbying of Petro Canada and the provincial government by the Chamber to save the Come-By-Chance refinery from closure. The facility did not close and remains to be one of the biggest employers in the area. In the late 1980s, the Chamber and the town of Clarenville made a considerable effort to promote the town. The Chamber involved an advertising firm to design a promotional package that focused on what Clarenville had to offer in life style as an attraction to lure industry to locate here. Funding for this initiative was provided by the Chamber, the town and the provincial government.
In the early 1990s, the Chamber expanded its executive. This expansion proved to be of great benefit to the Chamber and its ventures. The new members to the executive provided the Chamber with new ideas to complement those of existing members. The Chamber also began the process of questioning the general membership to determine their level of involvement in Chamber activities and stimulate future involvement. One of the issues confronted by the Chamber in the early 1990s was the threat of closure of the Motor Vehicle Registration office and the Regional Taxation Centre in Clarenville. The Chamber addressed this issue with much haste and vigor, which was instrumental in getting the decision reversed on the taxation center. The Motor Vehicle Registration, however, was closed. The employment of the area’s youth was a key issue to the Chamber in the early 1990s. In 1992, the Chamber decided that it should be helping to promote youth employment. So, that same year, the Chamber was able to hire a student through government funding programs. Furthermore, the Chamber has employed many youths since. In 1993, the Chamber felt that it could do more to further develop the employment opportunities for youth in the area. Thus, the Chamber took the initiative to apply to ACOA and CEIC for funding to introduce a Youth Ventures Program to Clarenville. The funding was granted and the Youth Ventures Program has operated every summer since. Education was another pressing issue with the Chamber. It served as an advisory board for an entrepreneurial course at Clarenville High School and supported the school’s attempts to initiate a cooperative education program. The Chamber continued in its efforts to have first year university courses offered in Clarenville. After years of lobbying, the first-year courses were introduced at the Eastern College – Clarenville Campus in the fall of 1994. In the early 1990s, environmental responsibility was a concern with the Chamber. Thus, it established a mandate to take a leadership role in stimulating environmental responsibility. The Chamber has also taken a role in the integration of people with disabilities into the regular workforce.
In the mid to late 1990s, the Chamber commenced with discussions to establish an office and hire an employee to implement the day-to-day activities of the Chamber. In 1999, the Clarenville Area Chamber of Commerce developed their first pewter ornament for sale. Currently, the Chamber is entering their 23rd year in developing these collectors’ items. Over the years the Chamber has expanded its product line to include limited edition prints, small matted prints, art cards, coasters, mugs, and a calendar. Our customers come from all over Newfoundland Labrador, from the Maritimes, right across Canada to British Columbia and down in the United States.
In 1999, the Clarenville Area Chamber of Commerce developed their first pewter ornament for sale. We contract a NL Artist to do a painting of Christmas past and the Chamber produces their products from the image. We are entering our 23 year in developing these collectors’ items. Over the years the Chamber has expanded its product line to include: art cards, small prints, limited collector’s prints, calendar, coasters, and in 2020 we added the porcelain mugs. Our customers come from all over Newfoundland Labrador, from the Maritimes, right across Canada to British Columbia, and down in the United States. This project has been very worthwhile for the Chamber with many positive comments from the customers on a regular basis.
In 2000, the Chamber played a major role in the revitalization and development of the East Coast Snowmobile Association. The Chamber felt strongly that the development of groomed snowmobile trails would further enhance our area as a winter tourism destination. In 2000-01, the Chamber assisted the Club in raising over $10,000 from membership and corporate sponsorships.
In 2001 the Arnold’s Cove and Clarenville Area Chambers of Commerce, Towns, Labour groups and other groups in the region from Whitbourne to Clarenville, formed a committee. This committee, representing some 30,000 residents, was developed to Lobby the Province, Industry, and the Bull Arm Site Corporation (owner of the Bull Arm Site) to promote and encourage activity at the site. Meetings are held as often as needed and are usually held at the Town Hall in Come-by-Chance.
In 2003 the Chamber contracted Hollett and Sons Inc. to conduct a SWOT analysis of Clarenville. The objective of this project was to research and determine what the major Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are in Clarenville. The analysis has been used to assist the Town, the Chamber, and its partners to build on its strengths, take advantage of any economic opportunities, and address any weaknesses and avoid any external threats to the economy.
For many years, the Clarenville Area Chamber of Commerce and various other stakeholders had been lobbying for a long-term care facility for Clarenville. In 2003, the Clarenville Area Chamber of Commerce organized a long-term care forum, attended by more than 200 people to discuss issues of concern surrounding this facility. The Chamber also started a letter campaign to bring this issue to light for the general public and continued to lobby for this structure, until it was announced in 2005 that site preparation was ready to commence on the long-term care facility. The Dr. Albert O’Mahony Manor was completed and opened in 2009.
In 2003, the Chamber decided to design a promotional kit detailing the benefits of becoming a Chamber member and doing business in Clarenville. The kit includes registration form, consent form, information on the Chamber’s Health Insurance Program, discounts from various partners with the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. With the recent economic growth occurring in the Clarenville area, the Chamber is currently in the process of revising the kit to provide the most updated information.
Chamber representatives were involved as part of a working group whose purpose was to viably utilize existing sets and locations of the films ‘The Shipping News’ and ‘Random Passage’ in Trinity Bight. These sites attract hundreds of visitors annually. The Chamber aims to be a firm support mechanism force to the area’s economy.
In 2006 the Town of Clarenville and the Clarenville Area Chamber of Commerce joined together to produce a map of Clarenville, which proved to be a successful venture. The map emerged as a useful tool for all existing and new residents, local businesses, and tourists coming into the region. The Town of Clarenville continues to produce the map on a bi-yearly basis.
The ‘Shop Locally’ campaign is an initiative of the Chamber of Commerce used to promote awareness and the benefits to the whole community when we choose to buy locally. The campaign promotes a strong, vibrant economy and sense of community pride. The Shop Locally Campaign not only encourages the local residence to shop locally but also the regional businesses to shop among other community business. This project aids in promoting products and services of local businesses.
The Chamber created the Business Excellence Awards to acknowledge and honor successful Chamber members who demonstrate a continued passion for excellence and promote the advancement of responsible leadership within our community. The 1st Annual Business Excellence Awards Banquet was held on February 25th, 2008. Presenting, the 2007 Small Business of the Year Award, the 2008 Business of the Year Award and the first Annual Business Hall of Fame Induction. In 2012, we incorporated the Corwin Mills, QC Community Cares Award which recognizes the value and leadership of the volunteer community.
The website continues to be an important resource in promoting the Chamber and the Clarenville area. It is an excellent tool in illustrating the history, attributes, activities and opportunities that our community has to offer to both business and the general public. We encourage everyone to check out the site www.clarenvilleareachamber.com and we welcome submissions and feedback which will improve the website. At the present time, the website is under construction with many new changes being made to it. All members will be notified when the new site is up and running so we can obtain any feedback they can offer.
The Chamber Facebook was developed to promote the Business Symposium and Showcase; however, it has been expanded to being a tool to sell the Chamber’s product line of the NL Christmas Pewter Ornament project; along with informing the public of the many events which the Chamber implements during the year. Our Facebook page can be check out at www.facefook.com/clarenvillearea. chamberofcommerce
In 2014/15, the Chamber hosted a series of round table discussions with the membership to gather their feedback which was used to develop the Chamber’s Three-Year Strategic Plan. One activity identified by the members was a need for a new advertising sign for businesses to promote their products, services, and events that would be taking place in the local communities. In 2019, the Chamber installed their digital sign which is located on Memorial Drive next to the G.B Cross Hospital.
The Chamber strives to monitor key activities at the local, provincial, and federal levels. As Clarenville’s exclusive business advocacy organization, the Chamber represents the business point-of-view on issues that ultimately will impact business in the area. Swift actions and efforts of the Chamber focus on legislation, regulations, and potential business development to ensure a lucrative business community.
Clarenville Area Chamber of Commerce
263 Memorial Drive
Clarenville, NL A5A 1R5
Toll Free: 1-888-466-5800
Fire Department: 466-7777
Poison Control: 1-800-722-1110
Mental Health Crisis: 1-888-737-4668
Photography by Paul Tilley.