Greater LV Chamber to set up shop in Nazareth
Apr 12, 2012 (The Morning Call - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Nazareth is at the center of a heated territorial dispute between overlapping chambers of commerce.
The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce has identified a "prime location" to set up shop in the borough, Marlyn Kissner, vice president of regional chambers for GLVCC, confirmed Thursday.
But news of the expansion, which had long been rumored, has not gone over well at the existing Nazareth Area Chamber of Commerce. In a recent letter to the Nazareth chamber's members, Chairman Daniel Thierry wrote that GLVCC's actions suggested a lack of respect.
"I believe it's another move from them to pressure our chamber," Thierry said Thursday. GLVCC "wants to take us over, basically."
The Nazareth chamber is one of the few local chambers in the Lehigh Valley to remain independent from GLVCC. From East Penn in Lehigh County to Phillipsburg, N.J., more than a half dozen local chambers have been absorbed by GLVCC over the years.
Kissner, however, said GLVCC is establishing an office in Nazareth because it has been asked by some of its members to do so.
"It just seemed like a natural progression. We're basically there to serve our members," she said, adding, "Our arms are wide open, if [the Nazareth Chamber] wants to join in."
According to Kissner, the primary benefit of GLVCC membership is networking opportunities; business owners, for example, can meet other business owners, and they can learn from each other and do business with each other. Compared to the smaller Nazareth chamber, GLVCC allows for greater regional networking, as opposed to mere local networking, she said.
"Our goal is to host great events," she said, noting that GLVCC has 5,000 members across the Valley. "We want to open [Nazareth] up to the regionalism."
The Nazareth chamber, by comparison, has about 440 members. Thierry cited the organization's sponsorship of Nazareth's Christmas tree lighting as an example of its work.
"We are a very community-oriented chamber," he said. "There's just no way that's going to be maintained" by GLVCC.
Were the Nazareth chamber to merge with GLVCC, the Nazareth business community would lose its autonomy, he said. He noted that even though GLVCC represents a total of 15 local affiliates and special councils, it has only four satellite offices.
Thierry said a past survey of Nazareth chamber members found little support for merging with GLVCC. Now, he said, the time has come for a new survey.
"I will initiate one," he said. "I want to represent the interests of our members."
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