Five years after the Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce merged with its counterpart in Crosslake a new merger has been announced.
The Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point Chamber of Commerce and Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce on Friday announced the merger of their organizations after five months of discussions. The plan and budget were presented to both boards last month.
Ken Priebe, who'll soon be vice chair of the Brainerd chamber, said the merger takes effect immediately and the two systems are expected to be fully integrated by Jan. 1.
Ryan Buell, chair of the Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point chamber, pointed to the opportunity to network within the larger, merged chamber and to access outside marketing advocacy as benefits for his smaller organization.
"These are things the Brainerd chamber does very well," he said.
Buell, a Pequot Lakes chiropractor, said his organization will continue its marquee events, such as Bean Hole Days and a summer craft show, as well as the upcoming fall craft show and Taste of Pequot on Sept. 18. Other Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point events that are expected to continue are an antique car show in the spring and an antique snowmobile rendezvous
The PL/BP chamber will retain its one full-time employee, Ione Miller, and she will continue to staff the four-year-old trailside center in Pequot Lakes.
Buell said almost 60 percent of the PL/BP chamber members responded to a merger ballot and 74 percent of those responding voted in favor of the merger, exceeding the 66 percent approval that was needed.
"The opportunity for membership will be vastly enhanced by the merger of the two organizations," Buell said.
Priebe said the Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point chamber fits nicely with the other communities represented in the Brainerd chamber.
"It looked to me like the opportunity to represent the whole lakes area as one economic region," he said. "That's the key. It gives us a stronger voice so the chamber can be a better advocate for business.
Priebe said if other chambers contacted the Brainerd chamber about further mergers it would study the issue but it would have to make financial sense.
MIKE O'ROURKE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5860.
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