Two chambers on course to become one
- December 29, 2009
Believing that the value of two business organizations is more than the sum of its parts, the Prince William County-Greater Manassas Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Prince William Regional Chamber of Commerce are moving forward with a merger proposal.
Chamber leaders say that the move was prompted by opportunity rather than concern over the economy. The Greater Manassas Chamber, which will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2010, and the Regional Chamber, which is 55 years old, are the third and fourth largest chambers, respectively, in Northern Virginia. Each organization has more than 1,100 members (with only about 200 overlapping members) and operates on an annual budget of more than $600,000.
Two chambers were established because distinct communities existed on the east and west sides of the county, separated by a large tract of forest. With the county’s rapid development in recent years, the communities have grown closer together.
“One of the key benefits is to unify our business community, to help show that, as far as economic development efforts go, the community is going to help promote the entire region, including Manassas and Manassas Park,” says Jim DiModica, chairman of the Regional Chamber. He notes that 85 percent of chamber members are small businesses with fewer than 15 employees. “This is all about a strength move and an investment in the community.”
If the merger is approved by the chambers’ members this spring, the new organization will be called the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce. To guard against the perception that one chamber is more important than the other, the combined organization would hire a new CEO. The current chamber presidents would be offered positions in the chamber’s executive management and the current staffs would merge.
Molly Grove, chairman of the Greater Manassas Chamber, says unification would position the new organization as “the go-to place and a single voice” for business in Prince William County.