New Firm Provides Outsource Services For Chambers Of Commerce
By Kristen Fidh
The former chairman of Miami-Dade County’s Coalition of Chambers has created a holding management company with the intention of coordinating administrative duties for a number of chambers of commerce.
In an effort to provide local business people with the most services for their dollar, Terry Cuson in August began developing Chambers Services Inc.
Because most areas in Miami-Dade are incorporated, many of them have set up independent chambers of commerce. However, he said, myriad chambers creates an economic pull on business owners who are forced to join multiple chambers to receive all the services they desire.
Mr. Cuson, who was chairman of the Miami-Dade County Coalition of Chambers from January to December 2002, said that if a business joins one of the groups participating in Chamber Services Inc., it will automatically be member of all the chambers represented.
"It has been a feeling of mine for a while now that there are too many of us chambers, and it is really diluting the strength of the business community," said Mr. Cuson, former president of the North Dade Chamber of Commerce, who is now president of Chamber Services Inc. "Our main goal, like any chamber of commerce, is to increase the business efforts of the community by coordinating databases, sending out mailings, setting agendas for meetings, and facilitating events."
According to Keith Lindgren, chairman of the North Dade Chamber of Commerce, it is financially difficult for a small chamber with 300 to 400 members to support a full-time staff.
"A chamber has to be able to send faxes and emails, and those things cost money," Mr. Lindgren said. "A small chamber can’t afford both. That’s why when two or three chambers can simplify a simple thing like having a joint business card exchange, members get more bang for their buck."
Currently, Chamber Services Inc. provides administrative duties for the North Dade Chamber of Commerce and the Miami Gardens Chamber of Commerce, with a combined membership of 1,272. Mr. Cuson said he is discussing participation with other chambers interested in the organization.
Each individual chamber will retain a board of directors and specific goals, but administration and execution will come from Chamber Services Inc., as two board members from every participating chamber will sit on the Chamber Services board.
Those who will most benefit from the consolidation are service organizations that have seen a decline in both contributions and volunteers since 2001, said Sam McCartney who sits on the North Dade Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.
"Businesses people do business with people they know and trust, and part of the responsibilities of a chamber of commerce is to create networking opportunities for businesses to come together," Mr. McCartney said. "Most of these consist of volunteering around the community so that, out of fruits of relationships, we have ability to give back when profits arise."