CHAMBER CHANGE: Chamber, EDC join forces; collaboration said to benefit local businesses

By JAMES THOMLISONStaff WriterCOLUMBIA CITY — The Whitley County Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) Board of Directors and the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) announced Tuesday they are coordinating together in efforts to more closely align their work with local business and industry.Following a recent discussion involving members of both boards of directors, a committee was formed to explore options to form a partnership between the Chamber and EDC.“At the end of the day, the Chamber has a place in the business community and the EDC has a place in the business community; we have to be focused on working in parallel and delivering value to our members,” said EDC President Alan Tio.The committee will conduct interviews with representatives of other communities that have affiliated their Chamber and EDC organizations to understand the benefits of various affiliations and alliances.Tio said there are a number of community leaders involved with both corporations and that helped the two create a joint-effort to look at making sure both groups are functioning well, not just in supporting business but in supporting the Whitley County community in general.“We have put together a team of dedicated, community leaders who will work to identify the best approach to our Chamber and EDC efforts,” said EDC board treasurer Jack Moore, “I look forward to seeing the work of this committee translate into positive changes for both organizations, for our clients and members, and for Whitley County.”The committee consists of the following current and former members of both boards of directors: Dick Buchanan, Mike DeFreeuw, Scott Gabriel, John Lefever, September McConnell, Jack Moore and Jennifer Zartman Romano.“On behalf of the Chamber, we welcome the opportunity to better align our programs and services,” said Zartman Romano, “We are considering all options to make sure our members, many of whom are also EDC clients, receive the best possible return on their investment.”Tio said the groups are looking at making sure they are providing valuable services to the business industry and business owners in the community.“We’re not sure where it will take us, but we want to be sure that each organization knows what the other one is working on,” said Tio. “It’s important that we support and re-enforce each other.”