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NOTL chamber president steps down and search is on for interim leader
Minerva Ward has stepped down from her position as president of the NOTL Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Niagara-on-the-Lake. Supplied

After two years at the helm and being a major player in Niagara-on-the-Lake’s post-COVID business recovery, NOTL Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Niagara-on-the-Lake president and CEO Minerva Ward has left her post.

In a media release dated April 9, board chair Andrew Niven said the search for an interim president and CEO has already begun.

In an interview with The Lake Report, Ward said the decision to leave was her own, but would not provide in-depth details on the timing of her last day on the job nor the reason for her departure.

“It was a decision I made to pursue other opportunities,” she said.

“I don’t want to say what that opportunity is, but I am very proud of the work I have accomplished here and what the team has accomplished.”

Ward arrived in NOTL in March of 2022 in the wake of the biggest shutdown the world has ever seen.

With businesses shuttered and the public remanded to their homes and essential destinations due to the COVID pandemic, addressing labour shortages and promoting the community’s business and tourism industry were top concerns for the NOTL chamber when she took over.

Ward has been “an integral part of the organization’s journey and has made significant contributions in advancing the interests of our business and tourism community,” Niven’s statement said.

The chamber plays a leading role in advocating on behalf of owners, creating business opportunities through networking, sharing innovative ideas and practices, and being a physical link between business and all levels of government.

During Ward’s tenure, she achieved a number of milestones and accomplishments, including a 32 per cent increase in chamber membership.

“During my time, Niagara-on-the-Lake was named by Tripadvisor as number two of the best-of-the-best travel destinations in Canada,” she said.

“And it was also named the number 18 best honeymoon destination in the world by Tripadvisor.”

For many businesses, having to be boosted back to life after COVID has been a difficult journey. Even today, two years after the lockdowns were lifted, the landscape is still in many ways one of recovery.

“After COVID, people were struggling to find labour. One of the things we did was hold a job fair,” said Ward.

“We created many new events to help the business community,” she adds, pointing to things like the Chamber of Business Summit in 2023, the Power of the Wine Industry conference and the Uncork Ontario wine study presentation to regional business partners.

“On the tourism side of things, we worked with the town on a tourism strategy. We worked with the town on the municipal accommodation tax working committee through the implementation of (the tax), negotiated terms of the (tax) transfer agreement with the town and finally saw Tourism Niagara-on-the-Lake get its share of (tax) revenues.”

While acknowledging Ward’s contribution and value to the organization, the media release said the search for a new CEO is already underway.

“The board of directors has initiated a search for an interim position and will work diligently to identify a candidate who possesses the vision, leadership and expertise necessary to lead the chamber of commerce and Tourism Niagara-on-the-Lake until a permanent position is fulfilled,” it said.

“We extend our gratitude to Minerva for her service and dedication,” Niven said in the release.

“Both the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Niagara-on-the-Lake reaffirms its commitment to its partners and assures them that the organization remains focused on its mission and strategic objectives.”

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