June 21, 2018
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Merging chambers will benefit organization

By Dan Bookham, Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce

Chambers of commerce have a diverse workload. Whatever the day, we tackle a lot on behalf of our members. Be it marketing and PR work, event planning, seminars, work force development, economic development, social and networking events, advocacy on behalf of our members, or one of the many other areas we cover, the staff of the Chamber spends every day looking to drive both value for money and increased business for members in return for their dues.

One of the big ways we can do more in those regards is by becoming more efficient and focused in the way we do business on behalf of the membership and, by extension, the economy of the region. Over the past couple of years, it has become apparent to the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber board, to me as executive director and to many of our members that the most member-beneficial way to achieve that efficient organizational focus is through joining forces with the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce. The staff at both chambers are wonderful and already working hard on behalf of the respective memberships. Greater specialization of the staff under the banner of a combined chamber

would allow for more engagement with projects and opportunities that would benefit members and help create the conditions that generate more business for the members and the region.

For this reason, Shari Closter from the PBRCC, board members from both organizations and I spent the spring hosting meetings and visiting with our partner business groups to discuss the recommendation of both boards that the two chambers merge. The member meetings went well, with great feedback as well as thoughtful and engaged conversation.

Even if you weren’t able to make one of the meetings, members of both the chambers and the

general public alike still can ask their questions about the process. Questions may be emailed to chamberquestions@gmail.com, where they will be shared with board presidents Gil Fifield (CRLCC) and Bobbie Knapp (PBRCC). Alternatively, one can reach out to either Shari Closter or myself by email, by phone or in person. We also encourage you to speak with Chamber board members or me at Chamber events, at the gym, at the grocery store or wherever works for you!

As I think about the work we do at the Chamber that I outlined above, I keep returning to the bottom line — chambers exist to increase business for their members. The Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville and Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber boards, PBRCC Executive Director Shari Closter, and I believe joining forces is the best route to that result.

But the board, the neighboring Chamber, Shari or I can’t decide this alone. Any decision to

combine the chambers into a new entity will rest in the hands of the members of both chambers through the separate votes of the respective memberships June 22. So to Chamber

members reading this, I urge you to get informed, to ask questions of the Chamber directly (and don’t rely on hearsay) and to come out to vote June 22 — be you in favor or opposed, we need to hear from you!

Dan Bookham is the executive director of the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce. Call 236-4404, email dbookham@camdenme.org, or visit www.visitcamden.com for more information.

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