Complex Issues Must Be Ironed Out Before Chambers Merge
by Gus Jarvis
Jan 07, 2010 | 1938 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RIDGWAY – Last week, members of the Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce unanimously voted in favor of exploring a possible merger with the Ouray Chamber Resort Association, but Linda Avery, the president of OCRA’s Board of Directors, said there are a slew of issues that need to be worked out before any type of merger is possible.

RACC members gave the heads up to a merger between the two chambers at its annual membership meeting held on Dec. 29 in Ridgway. The vote could ultimately signify cooperation between two organizations that have historically been utterly divided by the 10 miles that separates Ouray and Ridgway. RACC Board President John Lorimer said in this week that the RACC Board has been in discussions about a merger for the past year. If a partnership can be worked out, the relationship would be symbiotic, he said.

“They have a real strong marketing arm and the RACC has a very strong business services arm,” Lorimer said. “Put those two together and we could have a very, very strong organization in helping all sectors of the community in this county.”

Lorimer said the next step would be for the two chambers to sit down and iron out the details, including melding the two chamber’s bylaws.

“One of the things we have already nailed down is that we will continue to maintain both visitor’s centers,” he said. “We are hoping, at this point, to have this completed by the end of 2010.”

While Avery agrees that bringing the two chambers together could be positive, she said OCRA’s board and its members have a lot to discuss before it can move forward on a merger.

“We are having discussions on if this is even feasible,” she said. “It’s not just going to happen.” Avery said the board needs to figure out what questions it would like OCRA’s members to vote on and they must be in complete agreement before a merger can proceed. “We have a lot of issues to talk through. Both chambers have employees. How is that going to work? Both chambers have cost structures, membership issues and bylaw issues that have to be addressed.

“These are not simple things.”

All that being said, Avery said she believes that each chamber does some things better than the other, and a stronger organization could be created by merging the two. As an example, Avery said she constantly pays attention to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Chamber where there is one marketing arm for both communities.

“They work really hard together and we could have something like that work here,” Avery said. “There are a lot of really positive things there. If that were to work here, there are a lot of people between these two towns that have to get over some old animosities.”
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