Chamber of Commerce Consolidation

Posted: October 11, 2011 in Consolidation
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Well I figured it was about time for the Recorder to write yet another editorial singing the praises of consolidation. This time the idea is to consolidate the Fulton and Montgomery County Chambers of Commerce. It’s worth noting here that Recorder Publisher Kevin McClary is a member the Montgomery County Chamber Board of Directors.

I found this editorial interesting because it indicates to me that the “vision for consolidation”, of which the Recorder is the primary evangelist of, clearly extends further than just Amsterdam/Montgomery County, encompassing all of Fulton and Montgomery Counties. The Chambers are private organizations but their memberships include almost all the major industries in the region. I believe a merger would be a major step toward unifying the business cultures of the two counties, which I suspect would lay a groundwork for further regional consolidation. Given the Recorder’s consistent and long-term advocacy of the consolidation concept, it’s hard not to see this single idea as part of a wider strategy.

Of course the supporting arguments for the merger idea are vague, which is par for the course with these types of editorials. The Recorder’s argument seems to be hinged on the premise “Pooling resources whenever possible is often a good idea; today, it is most often a necessity.” This sounds “truthy” at first, but really says nothing about this specific situation. Are the two Chambers struggling financially? Is a merger necessary for them to survive? Who knows?

Outside of the survivability issue, the specific question that I believe needs to be answered in this case is whether a combined Chamber will be more effective at supporting its members, promoting tourism for the area, and marketing the area to new businesses, than the two Chambers separately. There needs to be solid evidence that a significant advantage can be achieved, otherwise one would have to question the need to do this. I hope that Chamber members of both organizations will keep an eye on the progress of this idea, ask questions, and make sure that their opinions are heard.

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Comments
  1. flippinamsterdam says:

    Tim,

    I cannot stop chuckling at your aside on “truthiness”.

    As far as “pooling resources” which is merely the new and improved flavor of the “sharing services” Kool-Aid, it would stand to reason that the larger the scale, the bigger the returns. So why not simply “pool” Montgomery, Fulton, Schenectady, et al, as the economies of scale should make that argument compelling to the point where we should have a single Chamber for this entire area.

    Why limit ourselves to Fulton and Montgomery County only? I think the answer is simply — given a hammer, every problem is a nail. No matter what ails us, the solution is always consolidation. I can’t speak for the Chamber but it would appear to me that the objectives and strategy for the Chamber should drive the proper size, scale and organizational structure. You don;t start with the organizational structure and then decide how to best fit the objectives and strategy within that.

    Let me also suggest that technology such as Facebook, LinkedIn, et al are much bigger threats to the mission and value proposition of the various Chambers so maybe scaling in terms of geographic thinking is perhaps bringing a hammer and a nail to dig a hole, regrettably, their own.

    just sayin’..

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