Some are questioning the actions of the Kenora & District Chamber of Commerce after a recent nearly $100,000 decision. 

In September, Kenora Online reported that the Kenora & District Chamber of Commerce has secured $98,000 in federal funding through the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to run a “Choose Local First!” advertising campaign, aimed at encouraging people to use their purchasing power to support local businesses.  

Now, the Chamber has awarded a large portion of the campaign creative development to a Thunder Bay marketing agency, the Ninesixty Group, and hired an independent consultant from southern Ontario (Nancy Milani) to manage the project. 

When asked what led to the decision to hire non-local vendors for their campaign, Chamber president Andy Scribilo explained, “We did look at a whole cross-section of how we ran the particular media of the actual initiative.  We looked all over the place for the right people to do the job.” 

The original funding and agreement included a commitment to using local vendors to develop and execute the advertising campaign that is set to include website development, digital marketing, video production and traditional advertising streams. 

When asked about the outcomes he expected from the campaign, Chamber president Andy Scribilo said, “[The] campaign is creating economic growth and stability within the whole region. It's not just a Kenora initiative, it's a Chamber of Commerce of Kenora, Red Lake, Sioux Lookout, Dryden, Fort Frances Nestor Falls and Sioux narrows [initiative]...we're trying to spur people to invest locally.” 

“One of the big things we're doing with this campaign is showing how a dollar is spent... how it's reinvested to the shop owner, their employees paying taxes, buying local.  You know, if that money goes out of town, we don't get it.” 

Homefield, a local marketing agency operated by Golden West (the parent company of Kenora Online), played a primary role in developing the campaign strategy that the Chamber used in applying for the grant. Homefield is one of several local organizations capable of developing and fulfilling a marketing campaign that would include digital marketing, creative development, and website design.  

In its application guidelines for this funding, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce states its key principles for the initiative which include, “To access local suppliers such as media, graphic designers, printers, etc., whenever possible in the design and implementation of Shop Local campaigns.” 

A chamber of commerce is defined as an association or network of businesspeople designed to promote and protect the interests of its members.