Economic Development Group Has New Name Sharper Focus

June 19, 2002
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GRAND HAVEN — A new organizational structure that accompanies the renaming of the Association of Commerce and Industry is designed to bring more involvement in the organization by its members.

A series of committees will steer policy and goals for the organization — now known as The Chamber of Commerce of Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, or “The Chamber” for short — replacing separate boards of directors that previously oversaw the ACI’s various functions.

Of The Chamber’s 650 members, only “a very small percentage at this point” are actively involved in the organization, President Joy Gaasch said.

“That’s something I want to change,” said Gaasch, who held the title of executive director under the former Association of Commerce and Industry banner.

While The Chamber has no plans to change it service offerings, the internal restructuring will result in an organization that’s more nimble and responsive to its members, with all services connected through a “team approach” among staff, Gaasch said. The goal of the new committee structure is to attract more people from member businesses to become involved in setting The Chamber’s agenda, she said.

“It’s so we are continually in tune with the pulse of the business community and what their needs are,” Gaasch said.

Each committee will develop a work plan for its service area that outlines strategies for addressing issues affecting the business community.

The Chamber will continue to focus on five main service areas: Member services, education and training, economic development, community affairs, and internal administration. The Grand Haven-Spring Lake Visitors Bureau, which now falls under economic development activities, will continue to have a separate board of directors so it can collect room taxes in accordance with state law.

Formed in 1982 when the Grand Haven Chamber of Commerce and the Committee for Economic Development merged, the Association of Commerce and Industry served as an umbrella organization for the local chamber, visitors’ bureau and economic development activities.

The name change stems from a need to better clarify and identify the organization’s role in the community, Gaasch said. While the ACI essentially operated as a chamber of commerce, the name often caused confusion, she said.

The organization chose to incorporate the word “chamber” into its new name because the word clearly identifies its role, Gaasch said.

“This clarifies things so our clients and our customers and our members know who we are and what we are,” she said “Chambers of commerce have been around for hundreds of years. People know what a chamber is.”

The new name — which includes a new logo — and reorganization took effect in late September.

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