WILMINGTON - The North Country Chamber of Commerce and Whiteface Region Business and Tourism Center have signed a partnership agreement that is believed will benefit both organizations.
The agreement - signed during a Jan. 27 meeting between the two organizations at the Adirondack Holiday Lodge - is one that has come to fruition after much interest, said WRBTC president Susan Rose-Hockert.
"This has been years in the making," said Rose-Hockert. "The stumbling block has always been coming up with an exchange of value."
NCCC president Garry F. Douglas said the "exchange of value" is how the partnership would be mutually beneficial to both parties. With the Plattsburgh-based chamber of commerce offering its clout as a more than 4,000-member organization that actively lobbies government officials, it was important to determine what the WRBTC could offer in return, he said.
"With this partnership, we're getting what we want for regional purposes - stronger advocacy, stronger support for economic development, more capacity for services ... and [WRBTC members] are getting access to services they haven't been able to offer with smaller numbers," said Douglas.
The WRBTC's membership remained relatively stagnant in recent years, hovering around the 100-member mark, said Rose-Hockert. However, after retooling their membership structure, the WRBTC made it more affordable for start-up businesses to join, she said, thereby making their organization more attractive to the NCCC for adding to their own membership.
"We're up to about 125 members, which for us, is a lot," said Rose-Hockert, who noted the effect is considerable considering the change was only made in the last year. "Our membership has grown very quickly in the past year and we expect it to increase even more this year."
Having a stronger partnering organization like the WRBTC is something that will ultimately help give the NCCC "the capacity to do effective government affairs" and "engage in economic development and marketing" to really value and service to its members, said Douglas.
"It's also important to have strong community chambers and associations who do what they do, focusing on the localized issues like marketing, tourism services, hosting local events and services," added Douglas.
Under the terms of the agreement, a working relationship between the NCCC and WRBTC will "enhance the availability and delivery of business support services in the Whiteface Region Business and Tourism Center and simultaneously promote economic development and excellence in the greater North Country region." The NCCC now gives the WRBTC full access to its available health insurance plans, representation in regional economic development and government affairs endeavors and inclusion in the North Country Energy Alliance, which offers discounted rates on New York State Electric and Gas and National Grid, among other benefits.
"The information and services that are now available to us and our members is absolutely incredible," said Rose-Hockert.
The partnership with the WRBTC is the latest for the Plattsburgh chamber of commerce. The first was with the Lake Placid-Essex County Visitors Bureau, now the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. Since then, the chamber has signed agreements with chambers of commerce in Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, Ticonderoga, Schroon Lake, North Warren, Malone, Indian Lake and the Adirondacks Speculator Region.
"We are now one of the four largest business associations in the State of New York," said Douglas. "I think we have a nice family now that takes us to where we want to be in terms of bringing the business community together within that economic region."