Q.C. needs a strong chamber of commerce - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Q.C. needs a strong chamber of commerce

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Posted: Friday, March 27, 2009 4:09 pm | Updated: 1:34 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The Tribune editorial "Q.C. chamber funding should not become permanent" (Our View, March 20) fails to accurately characterize the existing partnership between the Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce and the town.

In an effort to improve the clarity of the relationship for the general readership of the Tribune, the following points are offered for consideration:

First, the chamber does not receive a handout in the form of a direct subsidy from the town. Actually, the chamber has a performance contract for services with the town (24 line items in the current fiscal year), all of which must be fulfilled in order to receive payment. Importantly, this is why the chamber presents an update and report to the Town Council quarterly.

Second, the chamber is not "expanding the scope of government." In fact, the services agreement between the chamber and the town was built precisely to eliminate the need for the town to perform certain functions, the reality being that an independent organization with less overhead can complete certain tasks more efficiently and at less cost. In addition, there are certain functions cities and towns cannot legally perform but chambers of commerce can.

Third, characterizing the increase in funding as "temporary" is not accurate. The Town Council's decision to restore funding to the historic monthly amount does not imply that it will be removed again. The services agreement is renegotiated annually and adjusted to ensure that the town receives "value" for its investment.

The agreement can be modified throughout the course of the year based on need. Thus, funding can increase or decrease based on contractual changes. Ultimately, the services agreement is the vehicle that dictates how much the town pays the chamber annually, in return for the services the chamber performs for it.

Fourth, the idea that most chambers of commerce are autonomous or entirely "self-sufficient" is much more fiction that fact. Many, and certainly most smaller chambers, receive some form of financial support from the municipalities in which they are located. Typically, these dollars are related to a tax, e.g. bed tax (a chamber receives a portion from what is obtained via hotel stays); or service contract (which may contain many line items like operating the town's visitors center); or a program, e.g. the chamber operates the "Main Street" program on a city's behalf. A careful examination of several Arizona cities and chambers will reveal one or numerous combinations of these methods of support.

Fifth, the chamber is not the "only existing method of assisting business growth." While the chamber does perform this function, we also work in partnership with the town's Economic Development Department on issues of mutual benefit to enhance Queen Creek's (and the region's) aggregate business climate.

Perhaps most noteworthy of all chambers of commerce is that they exist to support businesses, which in turn provide the sales tax revenues for cities and towns to fund many programs and services desired by citizens. Strong chambers make for stronger businesses, which ultimately make better, more sustainable communities.

The Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce looks forward to serving its membership and satisfying its contractual obligations to the town. Moreover, we are constantly evolving and looking to improve our value proposition as we attract new businesses to our organization.

In closing, I would like to personally invite business owners in Queen Creek and surrounding communities to visit our office; explore the benefits of membership; and learn about why we believe our efforts can improve any firm's operations.

Rustyn Sherer is president and executive director of the Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce.

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