The chambers of commerce representing three communities have begun the process of merging their operations under another organization, and this move will help them better serve their members.
On Thursday, the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce formally voted to consolidate under the St. Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. The Massena chamber needed 10% of its 72 members (eight members total) to participate for the vote to be official. A total of 18 members cast proxy votes, and all of them favored the consolidation plan.
The chambers for Canton and Ogdensburg also are moving through the process of consolidating under the St. Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. This will ensure each community has a representative working for the interests of their respective members. The novel coronavirus hampered the ability of local chambers to carry out their missions, so merging into one entity will enhance their efforts.
Officials with the Canton chamber are reviewing the legal documents to consolidate. The Ogdensburg chamber will hold its vote to merge May 15.
Benjamin R. Dixon, executive director of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, explained the required steps in a story published Friday by the Watertown Daily Times.
“Today pretty much finishes up the process for Massena,” he said. “Canton is probably the third in line. They have the legal documents from the [New York Council of Nonprofits’] attorneys. They’re reviewing those at this point. They need to review those documents before going through the rest of the process of board approval. … The process basically is step one, we got the legal documents. The Massena board reviewed those and then they approved a resolution recommending merger. Then we put … a notice out to the members that included information about this evening’s meeting and vote and also proxy authorization ballots, and we’ve already received 18 ballots in response to that.”
By merging their operations under the authority of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, these communities will have a representative working on their behalf. The staff members will spend half their day working to support the chamber as a whole and the other half focusing on their individual communities. This means that the chambers will once again have people serving the interests of their members.
The Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce closed its doors in April 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Not being open or able to host events hurt the chamber’s ability to raise the revenue it needed to operate.
But the chamber had already begun losing money from some of its sources. Both the town and village of Massena cut their funding for the chamber in their budgets that year. The chamber has not been able to reopen since then.
The plan to consolidate has been under consideration by local chambers for the past few years. For small organizations with limited assets, pooling their resources is a good way to assist their members. This move to merge these three chambers under a larger organization is a sensible way to ensure their future growth and their efforts to promote our region.
The board of directors for the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce will need to approve each consolidation, and we encourage members to vote in favor of this measure. We commend officials from these groups in identifying ways to streamline operations and forge a viable path forward.
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