"I hope to bring together all of the formerly separated groups representing various parts of Hood River's business sectors," said Kerry Cobb, executive director of the Hood River Chamber of Commerce.
This is no small goal. As was well acknowledged during the Heights Business Association meeting where Cobb spoke on Jan. 6, each region of the county has distinctly unique characters and economic concerns.
"The downtown retail and service folks are different from both the Heights and the Fruit Loop businesses in many ways," said Cobb. "But, everyone can benefit from economies of scale and effective, coordinated use of common resources."
The chamber board and Cobb are working together to better serve the ongoing event planning and marketing activities that benefit every business in the valley, in addition to increasing tourism to the area.
To further the goal of a unified valley-wide business sector, Cobb, along with current and retiring Heights Business Association presidents Tony White and Dave Mason, have been in discussion on a potential merger of organizations.
"There is no specific structure yet identified," said Mason. "But, we might benefit from becoming an advisory council to the larger chamber and connecting our resources and events together with the broader business community."
The Heights Association members present during the proposal presentation had many questions on how such a merger could take place, as well as questions on why it would be of benefit.
Cobb responded to questions by recounting details on the recent Downtown Business Association's decision to merge with the chamber.
"There has been a decrease in duplication of effort and an increase in effective use of existing marketing tools and resources," said Cobb.
"By taking over the logistics of existing events we are allowing owners more time to focus on their businesses," Cobb added. "Most events share similar work details like permitting, advertising, soliciting donations and recruiting volunteers and this is what the chamber is already doing."
Heights Association members are encouraged to seek information from the organization's officers on the potential merger, according to White. A vote on the proposal will be held at the Jan. 20 meeting, to be held at the Hood River campus of CGCC from 8-9 a.m.
CHAMBER GOES DISCO
Member celebration gala - Jan. 22, from 6-10 p.m. at the Gorge Room of the Best Western Hood River Inn. Guest speaker will be Rep. Greg Walden.
"Reviving Disco" is the theme with "hustle" dancing and photos with a John Travolta look-alike. Member tickets are $35; deadline for purchase is Jan. 19.