Two parish chambers to merge

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

VIDALIA — If things go smoothly, by 2011 the only thing that will separate the Ferriday and Vidalia chambers of commerce will be eight miles of highway.

The two chambers recently surveyed their members about the possibility of merging or forming a parish-wide organization, and the unanimous consensus of those who returned the questionnaires was that the two should merge.

“Everybody on the surveys was definitely in favor of coming together as a Concordia Parish chamber,” Ferriday Chamber President Liz Brooking said.

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While there was some initial talk about forming an umbrella chamber and allowing the two existing organizations to continue to function independently, Vidalia Chamber Director Jamie Burley said the decision to merge was directed by the members.

“That was pretty much decided by the surveys,” she said.

“They said they feel like if we pull together we have a much greater ability to accomplish things, and our events will be bigger.”

The tentative start date for the newly united chamber will be January 2011, which Brooking said will give the two organizations a year to decide how to best effect the merger.

“In January (2010), we will probably get our boards together, talk over everything and get to know everybody better, and then make a plan,” she said.

After that, the boards will likely break apart into committees and meet with suggestions, taking ideas to the local memberships for fine-tuning, Brooking said.

In the meantime, Burley said both she and Brooking are researching other parishes that have merged their chambers, and looking at ways to begin to have shared events.

“I plan to have a few chamber events and involve Ferriday this year, as well as Ferriday have a few events and involve Vidalia,” she said.

The two chambers will also be soliciting memberships from the areas of the parish not currently represented by a chamber of commerce, including Monterey, Clayton, Ridgecrest and the lake areas.

“We want to make sure everybody feels represented in the parish,” Brooking said. “We don’t want any one area to feel overshadowed and feel left out.”

“The time is right, we all need each other so much — we just need to pull together.”