Changes will ensue in wake of chambers’ merger

Posted July 17, 2011, at 6 p.m.

Just under a month ago the long-awaited chamber of commerce consolidation vote took place, with members of the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville and Penobscot Bay Regional chambers of commerce casting ballots and opting by wide margins in both organizations to combine forces under the incorporating name, Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce. Therefore, as of Aug. 1 we will have a new, combined Chamber of Commerce serving the members and communities now served by the existing Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville and Penobscot Bay Regional chambers of commerce.

It is important to note that this sets in motion the legal, corporate elements of consolidating the organizations. This timetable is dictated by state law and governance requirements. We legally consolidate on Aug. 1. The actual combination of operations will be in our own hands: We get to set that timetable. We expect this process to take a little longer than the legal filing date of Aug. 1.

Some changes will happen pretty quickly while some will be more incremental. Dues bills still will go out (and will need to be paid!), member benefits extended, and the all-important core mission — helping our members generate more business — will continue uninterrupted and will be enhanced quickly.

The new Chamber will have the same number of staff (there will be no layoffs or new hires) who will be able to do more for the members thanks to the elimination of duplicative work. Both offices and information centers will remain open. There will be one guidebook with expanded editorial and a special “living here” section, and our websites will split to provide tourism information on the one hand and local services, business and living-here information on the other for the broader community.

I wanted to thank publicly all of the members who took the time to vote, by proxy or in person. For those who voted against the consolidation, thank you for voting and making your voice heard. Second, I hope we can show you that the decision made by your peers will bring everyone increased value to your membership dues and that we can earn your support for the new alignment of your Chamber.

For those of you who voted in favor, thank you for your confidence in this organization, the board and staff, and yourselves. We now can do so much more for all of our members and you have given us an evolutionary path to follow that will secure our future and greater prosperity for the region.

The Chamber extends special thanks to those who helped make the logistics of the vote possible — Susan Bryant of the CRLCC board and Bryant Law for ensuring compliance with Maine law, the Inspectors of Election Justin Holmes and Chris Goodwin of Eaton Peabody, Camden Hills Regional High School and Rockland District High School. The Chamber also would like to thank both boards of directors, the staff of both chambers, our hosts for our town meetings and all of the members who engaged in the process.

We stand on the edge of an exciting future for your Chamber, and all of us who compose both the CRL and PBR chambers pledge to take this new mandate and tool kit to do more for local business, the local communities, and the region as a whole in order to secure a prosperous and sustainable future for us all.

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

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