MASSENA — A vote to consolidate St. Lawrence County chambers of commerce is tentatively set for April 20.
St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Benjamin R. Dixon updated the Massena Town Board on the latest timeline during Wednesday’s meeting. Under the plan, the chambers in Massena, Ogdensburg and Canton would become part of the county chamber.
“We’re getting closer to having the merger done,” Mr. Dixon said.
He said they’re waiting to receive the bylaws that have been reviewed by the New York Council on Nonprofits, which was hired on retainer to assist with the integration process.
“Basically, the process at this point for the merger of the Massena chamber with the county chamber is that we get bylaws for the new organization of the integrated chamber from NYCON, our attorneys. I was on the phone with them for about an hour today, and we should have those by Monday. So, it’s really exciting,” Mr. Dixon said.
He said that once those are received, the Massena chamber board will have an opportunity to review them.
“They will vote to approve a resolution of merger. That may happen as early as next Thursday,” he said. “What we do at that point is send out an announcement to the membership, and then we’re going to hold an information session for the members to just be able to share what the merger is, why we’re doing it, the rationale behind it, the benefits to Massena that would result. We’re looking at doing that tentatively on March 30.”
Mr. Dixon said the information session may be done in a hybrid fashion so people who could not attend the session could view it online.
“It’s really kind of a transfer Q&A, a chance for people to really get to understand so that they’re comfortable with it,” he said.
The final step would be chamber members voting on the merger, tentatively on April 20.
“We’ll be doing that at the Church Street facility. Basically, members come in, cast their vote, we count it and announce the results. The members will be able to vote by proxy. When the Massena chamber sends out its announcement to the membership, it will include a proxy ballot so that they can vote in that way. So, they don’t necessarily have to be there on April 20 to vote” Mr. Dixon said.
One the merger is approved by members, documents will be sent to the Department of State “and we’re off and running,” he said. “Then, we get to do the fun work of actually implementing the integration.”
If the merger is approved, he said they’ll be looking to hire an individual to staff the Massena office full-time. That individual will dedicate half their time on Massena-specific programming, the business community, and chamber members in the Massena area. The remainder of the day will be spent on programming that benefits both Massena and the county chamber.
“We’ll have a satellite office and visitor center here in Massena. We’ll have someone there full-time so that they can be responsive to the needs of the community,” Mr. Dixon said. “We’re kind of already doing this in Ogdensburg to some extent. Laura Pearson, the executive director of the Ogdensburg chamber, is also an employee of our chamber, and it’s been going very, very well.”
Massena will also be represented on the board of directors of the integrated chamber.
“We already have a couple of Massena representatives on the county chamber board,” he said.
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