EDITORIAL: Chamber, PEP merger is an idea worth exploring


A recent proposal to merge the Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Powell Economic Partnership has possible merit, and we believe it deserves more discussion and consideration.

That’s why we applaud the approach taken by leaders of both organizations, who plan to get input from the public and business owners to more fully think this proposal out before making a decision.

Some of the advantages are obvious: Saving money by employing one director and renting one office rather than duplicating; streamlining efficiency; joining forces to potentially accomplish more while using fewer resources.

The two organizations already work closely together, and with the chamber currently between directors, the timing for the proposal makes sense, too.

However, there could be difficulties and conflicts as well. Traditionally, the chamber works with and supports existing businesses. PEP, on the other hand, exists both as a resource for business owners and as a think tank and an impetus for attracting new businesses and spurring economic development.

Those differing visions and goals sometimes cause discomfort and disharmony. Is it possible for the same office to support existing businesses while reaching out to new ones, thereby creating an environment for support and for positive change, or would conflict between the two visions be more likely to hamper progress for both?

Those are some of the questions that must be answered before a decision on the best path forward can be made.

Chamber of Commerce President J.J. Jeide and PEP Director Christine Bekes have outlined the way they plan to answer those questions.

First, they are reaching out to other Wyoming communities that have combined their chamber and economic development organizations to see what works, and what doesn’t.

Second, they plan to hold community meetings later this month to seek input and insights on the matter from local business owners and residents.

“We don’t have the answers to those questions,” Bekes said. “Part of the reason we don’t know ... is because there needs to be more conversation about it.”

“The chamber is here for the community of Powell, and we would like to know what direction the community sees the chamber going,” Jeide said.

With the chamber of commerce in transition, Jeide said this may be the time to “make a few course corrections, some modifications to what the chamber’s goal is and what we’re accomplishing.”

That all makes sense. Now, it’s up to all of us to help provide the answers.