"By integrating under an umbrella organization, we are leveraging the two Chambers strengths and retaining local influence while addressing regional business needs and interests, making it clear that the new entity serves our four-county Capital Region marketplace," said Ray Bleser, president of Northeastern Fine Jewelry and newly elected Chair of the Capital Region Chamber.
Integration discussions were a natural progression in the ongoing collaboration between the Chambers, as they have partnered on numerous membership initiatives dating back to 2006. Currently, shared initiatives include Leadership Tech Valley, the Tech Valley Nonprofit Business Council and the Tech Valley Young Professionals Network. Starting in 2012, the Chamber of Schenectady County offered its members access to health insurance offerings through the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber's licensed insurance brokerage and, since late 2013, the Chambers have shared two staff members.
The two Chamber Boards authorized a Joint Task Force in October 2014 that was charged with defining the opportunities and potential obstacles of integrating the two Chambers; reviewing integration models to identify the most appropriate structure; and conducting due diligence with respect to organizational focus, member services, governance, operations and finances. Ultimately, the Task Force would make a recommendation to both Boards and memberships regarding a possible new corporate structure. The Joint Task Force work was professionally supported and facilitated by the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON).
The Task Force concluded that it would be in the best interests of both Chambers, their missions, communities served and the region for a corporate affiliation to occur. It determined that the most appropriate structure would be to form a new umbrella organization which would integrate membership and staff and is inclusive should other organizations wish to affiliate in the future. Their recommendations were endorsed by the Board of both Chambers.
Members of the two Chambers had the opportunity to vote on the recommendation via proxy or in person at a special membership meeting held today at Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia. The Chamber of Schenectady County received 136 votes with 92 percent in favor of the affiliation; the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber tabulated 258 votes with 98 percent in favor.
"The Capital Region Chamber will be a unifying force to provide greater influence and opportunities for our members and communities," said Kevin McCoy, managing director of Marvin & Company, CPAs and Chair-Elect of the Capital Region Chamber. "Our membership investors will now have access to expanded resources, stronger advocacy clout and a larger network of potential customers."
Integration of the two Chambers will occur over the coming months. The Capital Region Chamber will have nearly 3,000 members, representing more than 140,000 employees. Offices will remain in both counties, with Mark Eagan serving as CEO and Chuck Steiner as President.