After 35 years in the financial services industry with what’s now called RBC, Bill McKinney retired to Parksville in the year 2000.
That didn’t last long.
“I retired for seven days,” said McKinney, the new president of the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce. “After mowing my lawn every day and re-arranging my closet and garage I said: I need a job.”
He has owned and operated Ideal Images since that time. It’s the promotional product industry or, as McKinney said, “the swag business.”
McKinney, 68, is no stranger to those who have lived in Parksville for any amount of time. He’s been active in Rotary and was the president of the Beachfest Society, the Oceanside Generals and the Parksville Community and Conference Centre. He is currently president of Inclusion Parksville, formerly called the Parksville and District Association for Community Living. He was the city’s citizen of the year in 2005.
McKinney has been involved with the Parksville chamber for about 14 years, including time as a director and vice-president. He said there are similarities to selling financial products — or golf balls with your company logo — and being president of the chamber.
“It’s about building relationships with people,” he said. “The skills transfer very easily.”
McKinney is married to Dee, who is also a local small business owner and a director on the chamber’s board. McKinney seems to have a clear vision about the chamber’s work.
“The biggest role of a chamber is speaking on behalf of members to municipal, provincial and federal governments,” he said. “It’s advocacy. It’s about asking ‘is there an easier way to do business?'”
He also has a vision for the year ahead as the chamber president — Dee and the rest of the board might have to expect a little more work.
“There are some things I want to accomplish and I think I can convince the board the ideas have merit,” he said. “I’d like the board to become more responsible and accountable for some programs” like membership and fundraising. “It can’t be left just to the staff to do that.”
McKinney said some of his other goals for his one-year term — traditionally presidents get re-elected and serve one more year — include upgrading the chamber’s website and being part of the economic development plan outlined in a recent NEWS story by chamber executive director Kim Burden (see
“The economic development plans that will go into place in 2017, I think will have a huge, positive impact in the business community,” he said.
McKinney also said the chamber can play a role in wider community issues like homelessness, where the chamber could help match their members who have certain skills and services with the needs of the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness. He also said he would like tourists and residents alike to get a better impression of the city as they enter its boundaries.
“There is work to be done by merchants, government and the chamber to improve the entrances to our city.”