The head of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce says he’s never heard the complaint that the chamber isn’t properly serving small immigrant-led businesses.
Keanin Loomis, president of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, says he hasn’t heard the issues mentioned by organizers of a new Hamilton-based South Asian Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the chamber not helping with issues of language or discrimination or that the chamber is focused on large businesses.
“Nobody’s ever communicated these issues or concerns to us,” he said. “Certainly we would listen if it was an issue and give it the proper attention it deserves.”
On Aug. 2, a new group calling itself the South Asian Canadian Chamber of Commerce will hold a formal launch event at Narula’s Indian Eatery and Banquet Hall.
The organization has about 60 members, its organizers say, and is designed to counter the larger chamber’s focus on big business and help South Asian entrepreneurs deal with their unique concerns, such as racism and language barriers, organizers say. The chamber started in March.
Loomis said the chamber could likely improve how it serves immigrant communities. Currently, he said, it’s working with the city on a foreign direct investment initiative to embrace immigrant entrepreneurs.
But he’s never heard from the organizers of the South Asian Chamber Chamber, he said, nor has the chamber faced criticism for not serving immigrant business owners.
Organizations can’t officially call themselves a chamber of commerce or board of trade unless they are named as such in the federal Boards of Trade Act, or under an act of parliament, he said.
Only the Hamilton, Flamborough and Stoney Creek chambers can legally call themselves chambers of commerce in Hamilton, he said.
“I will communicate that to them,” he said. “There are problems and implications with using that name that they obviously don’t fully appreciate.”
Amandeep Narula, one of the founders of the new south Asian group, said she didn’t encounter that law in her research.
“If it becomes a legal issue at all, we’ll change our name,” she said.
There are other chambers of commerce, such as the Indo Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canada-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce, she said.
Whether the Hamilton group calls itself an association or a chamber, she said, it’s necessary.
“I don’t think our members will have an issue if it’s called the South Asian Business Society.”