I’ve received more than a few comments about a column I wrote a few weeks ago. Most of the conversations have gone as follows:


Them “I want to thank you for writing about merging all the lake chambers of commerce into one. I know you probably have been getting a lot of negative feedback, but I’m for it.”


Me “Actually, nearly everyone I’ve talked to has been for the idea of having just one chamber. I don’t think we’re in the minority.”


I’ve received more than a few comments about a column I wrote a few weeks ago. Most of the conversations have gone as follows:

Them “I want to thank you for writing about merging all the lake chambers of commerce into one. I know you probably have been getting a lot of negative feedback, but I’m for it.”

Me “Actually, nearly everyone I’ve talked to has been for the idea of having just one chamber. I don’t think we’re in the minority.”

The truth is, merging the chambers wasn’t my idea, and it wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard about time and time again from various people at various functions in my three years here at the lake. Individually, the chambers had been discussing it as well. I simply just pointed out the elephant in the room.

The sentiment seems to have borne out in the survey that this newspaper facilitated last week — nearly everyone wants to at least consider the idea of merging the area chambers into one.
The members of the various chambers will be meeting in the near future to explore the possibility. Undoubtedly they will come up against some roadblocks and issues. That’s to be expected. The truth is it will take a ton of work to accomplish.

Here are some of the challenges I see that the proposition faces:

Territorial concerns Some will undoubtedly think that by joining into one chamber, an area will lose its representation. I don’t think this has to be the case. If each area of the lake is represented equally on an overall lake board then chances are they’ll actually have a greater influence on the entire lake (rather than just a portion of it) than they’ve had in the past. The other chamber doesn’t want to do it I think I’ve heard a member from every chamber say that one of the other chambers wouldn’t go for it. The truth is that the majority of the members of every chamber like the idea and are open to it. They just want to make sure it’s good for them. Communicating and not assuming will be key in overcoming this hurdle. Membership revenue decline Some businesses that are members of multiple chambers will hope that they can save money on membership dues. Unfortunately, at least until the dust settles, I don’t think there can be a savings on dues. That revenue stream is going to be needed. I’m not sure how to make that equitable, but if the chambers are going to be able to transition into one — they can’t be hampered by a significant loss in incoming revenue. For the time being, businesses will have to expect to pay the same amount in sum to chambers as they have in the past.   Staff and facilities Will staff be cut or facilities be closed as a result of the merger? I don’t think this has to or should happen. I do believe that there could be savings as a result of a merger – but that can come through cutting duplicity. There’s no reason to let go people or close doors. The lake is a big place and the chamber needs representation in every area — not only for members but for visitors as well.

I’m sure that’s just a few of the things that will come up in the initial discussions. There is no getting around it. It would take a lot of work to accomplish, but there are significant payoffs, including greater communication between local businesses, a unified business voice that can talk to local and state governments, the potential to invite new business to the area, the ability to strategically plan local special events and much more effective networking opportunities, and we, finally, would have an organization that reached across and represented the entire lake.

I’m eager to hear what comes of their discussions and grateful they are willing to talk about it.

** Read the story about the results in News Now.

Contact Lake Sun Publisher John Tucker at john.tucker@lakesunonline.com.