Good Relationships, Good Business: An Interview with Luanne Snow
Luanne Snow has entrepreneurship in her blood—her dad ran several small businesses while she was growing up, and by the age of fifteen she was part of the operation, keeping the ledgers balanced and doing the accounting.
These days, she’s still helping entrepreneurs.
As the Chief Operating Officer of the Mount Pearl Paradise Chamber of Commerce, Luanne is constantly on the alert for ways to help businesses, both large and small, in her region. Along with offering business supports and networking opportunities, the chamber also encourages local businesses and municipalities to connect with each other to discuss key issues and opportunities.
Luanne’s interest in community involvement began with a contract position with the city of Mount Pearl. “It all got started in 1999. I started to work on a government grant with the city, through the seniors’ independence group. From there I joined the City’s marketing and promotions department,” she recalled.
“Next, I went to the Mt. Pearl Sport Alliance for five years,” she continued. “When I heard about the job at the Chamber of Commerce, a position that was so community group oriented, I thought it would be complementary to what I’d already been doing (and enjoying very much!). I loved the idea of continuing to work with community groups in Mount Pearl. Basically, it was a chance to take what I’d learned from the sports side, and apply it to a business organization.”
Another reason that the position appealed to her was her father’s experience as a small-business owner. His main business was Ivan’s Paint and Wallpaper in Carbonear. The business is still open today, run by Luanne’s brother. “My dad always had a business, it was who he was, and I was always interested in being involved,” she explained. “I watched him struggle for many years, so I wanted to be part of helping other businesses make it from what I learned from working with dad, the good and the bad.”
Along with a strong belief in the importance of political engagement (she organized a leader’s debate, moderated by the Harris Centre, that helped establish local priority issues in the lead-up to the recent federal election), Luanne believes that collaboration is one of the most essential elements of small-business success, one that is all too often neglected. “My dad always used to say I was too independent, so in this position I’ve been really focusing on the potential of partnerships. I’m working on building relationships with all three levels of government, and other communities and organizations.”
In fact, Luanne’s biggest recent project has been to help create an alliance between the Mount Pearl and Paradise Chambers of Commerce. Inspired by a presentation about regional cooperation given by Dr. Rob Greenwood, Director of the Harris Centre, Luanne realized that many of the goals of the two chambers overlapped and that working together had the potential to increase the impact of their collective work.
While it is important that the Chambers of Commerce have good connections with stakeholders, Luanne also believes in bringing businesses together and then allowing them to create their own relationships: “I’m trying to build partnerships within the business community. It’s not just about us doing it: business-to-business connections can lead to real competitive advantages. For example, consider transportation: we all know how much it costs here in Newfoundland and Labrador, but if you have companies partnering on it, costs can often be reduced.”
So what are Luanne’s next plans for “Paradise and the Pearl?”
She’s got several priority areas she’ll continue to focus on improving: “For one thing, I’m hoping to increase attraction and retention in this city,” she stated. “Plus, I’m hoping to expand our chamber programs based on our memberships needs. It seems like with the ongoing labor shortage we’re finding that the small and medium-sized business owners don’t have the time to do the networking and mentoring that’s required for business. We’re hoping to find ways to help them get the opportunities they need, in ways that work given the demands of their schedules,” concluded Luanne.
For more about the Mount Pearl Chamber of Commerce, visit www.mtpearlchamber.com.