Chamber merger under way

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 17, 2010

VIDALIA — The merger of the Ferriday and Vidalia chambers of commerce is getting down to the nitty-gritty details.

“We have the organization structure in place, we have the corporation basically set up,” said Liz Brooking, one of the Ferriday representatives on the Concorida Parish chamber steering committee.

“We are looking at both of our budgets, the ways both of us operate — and we do operate differently. We have a different mix of members, but we have some common members as well, like the banks or hospitals.”

The committee is also considering details such as dues structures and is trying to anticipate anything else that needs to be addressed before the official merger in January.

“We will have as many things out on the table and answered before we become a new organization in January,” she said. “We are going to go ahead to do all we can to get in shape before we open our doors as a parish-wide chamber.”

Some of the issues that will need to be considered include where the chamber office will be located, and where meetings will be conducted, Vidalia Chamber of Commerce Director Jamie Burley said.

“I have heard others suggest that if we have it in Ferriday that people from Ferriday will attend and nobody else will, and if it is in Vidalia, vice versa,” she said.

The organization might have offices in both Vidalia and Ferriday, with the staff spending different days at the different offices, Burley said.

“We are trying to make it convenient for everybody,” she said.

Another consideration the joint chamber has to make, an issue Burley said she has excused herself from, is the issue of having a chamber director and what that person’s salary will be.

The steering committee also wants people from Monterey, Ridgecrest and Clayton to get involved, and some from Clayton residents have come to some of the meetings.

“I am going to start visiting Monterey, Ridgecrest and Clayton to invite them personally,” Burley said.

The next steering committee meeting, to which all those who to be involved in the joint chamber are invited to attend, will be 5:30 p.m. July 27 at Concordia Bank in Ferriday.

“What we are hoping is to have as many of our citizens in the area present because we will be making some tough decisions and finalizing things,” Burley said. “We want their input and we want them to be part of this merger.”

Next Tuesday, the Vidalia and Ferriday chambers of commerce will have a joint meeting at noon at the Arcade Theater.

The speaker will be Rick Ranson, vice president of economic development for the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce.

“(Ranson) is used to an organization that is multi-city and multi-parish, and he will speak about how chambers (of commerce) operate and how they are instrumental in promoting economic development,” Brooking said. “It is going to be a great lead-in for the chamber merger meeting on the 27th.”