FREEPORT — While a preliminary Chamber of Commerce proposal did not earn the support of the Freeport Merchant’s Association board, closed-door discussions with the Chamber Task Force proved successful and a compromise has been reached.
FMA directors voted Feb. 4 to continue discussions with the Chamber Task Force to create a chamber of commerce.
The vote ensures FMA’s involvement with the organization proposed to unite, increase marketing provide support for local businesses.
The organization will be a merger of FMA and the Freeport Economic Development Corp. FMA would provide enhanced marketing services, and FEDC would provide assistance to new businesses or those wishing to expand.
President Tim Paul said in an FMA newsletter that his group will work to “continue as part of the process of developing exactly what the eventual organization is to become.”
“The board has made it clear that we maintain unrelenting interest in protecting the mission of FMA and will work in good faith so long as that mission is not compromised,” he said.
Sande Updegraph, executive director of FEDC, said FMA’s concerns were addressed, making the board more open to the proposed merger.
One concern was the aggressive timeline. It was decided that a start-up date of July 1, 2009, was too soon to create a working chamber. Under a new timeline, the launch will not take place before next January.
Another concern was using the name Freeport Chamber Alliance for the unified organization. Updegraph said future discussions will involve finding a name that will please everyone.
Finally, Updegraph said FMA wanted to remain in control of the organization’s marketing sector.
“FMA wanted to make sure the marketing director, marketing dollars and marketing strategies remain autonomous,” she said.
The Chamber Task Force will meet Feb. 12 to begin organizing its next steps.
“We are going to continue to work together and start hammering out details around the costs, membership dues, and bylaws,” Updegraph said. “After thoughtful discussions, we have a strong starting point.”