The Arroyo Grande Valley and Grover Beach chambers of commerce could soon consolidate if members of both organizations vote in the next week to do so.
The chambers’ boards of directors have voted separately to combine the two nonprofits, said Judith Bean, president/CEO of the Arroyo Grande chamber.
“Our board agrees that one larger organization better serves the interest of the two communities and provides a more substantial voice for economic development,” Bean said. “We would bring an active governmental affairs program to the table. They have large, well-attended community events. We think it’s a good marriage.”
Chamber members must weigh in before any merger can move forward, said Brad Evans, chairman of the Grover Beach chamber and owner of Stacked Sandwiches.
“We are at the graces of the general membership,” he said. “If it does go through, I’m very excited and very optimistic.”
The Grover Beach chamber has hosted golf tournaments, puts on the annual Stone Soup Music Faire, and is planning a Central Coast Foodie Fest on May 20 at Ramona Garden Park.
Discussions about combining the chambers have been ongoing for several months, Bean said. Grover Beach chamber CEO Linda Garcia resigned effective April 16, some time after the city officials, facing a budget shortfall, told chamber members they may not be able to provide funding to the chamber next fiscal year.
The Grover Beach chamber received $40,000 this year from the city, including $15,000 from its general fund and $25,000 from the city’s redevelopment agency, which was dissolved Feb. 1, Administrative Services Director Gayla Chapman said.
The money makes up about 40 percent of the chamber’s budget.
Chamber members were faced with three choices, Evans said: to close, to become an all-volunteer chamber or to merge with Arroyo Grande’s chamber.
Garcia could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Both chambers were founded in 1961; the Grover Beach chamber has about 250 members, and the Arroyo Grande chamber has about 400 members, Bean said. About a third of the members belong to both organizations, she said.
Letters were scheduled to be mailed Tuesday to members of both chambers and must be returned by mail or fax by noon May 3. A majority of the members who return their votes must be in favor of the consolidation for it to move ahead, Bean said.
The cost of a chamber membership varies, but Bean said the cost difference between the two chambers is only about $20. It has not been decided whether the chambers, if combined, would adopt a new name.