Midland Area Chamber of Commerce Interim President/CEO
With a few “I’s” still to be dotted, and a few “t’s” to be crossed, plans for bringing together the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce and Midland Tomorrow under one organization banner are proceeding. The current idea is to more or less keep both organizations intact so as to be able to continue impactful programming and retain funding mechanisms. What’s new would be an “umbrella” organization with a board of directors coming from the Chamber’s and Midland Tomorrow’s boards. The existing boards would act as advisors to the new board which, in all likelihood, would be somewhat smaller and very focused on the overall organization’s direction.
Most importantly, there will be one CEO to oversee the entire operation and he/she would ensure that the current organizations would have effective staff leadership and direction. It may sound a little complicated, but it really isn’t and it is necessary in order for the “umbrella” organization to operate effectively and efficiently.
There are several critical reasons why merging the organizations makes sense not only to the Chamber and Midland Tomorrow, but also to business and the overall community:
1) Efficiency—one CEO, perhaps one Director of Finance, and other efficiencies can be studied and implemented;
2) Focused Approach—with one CEO and one oversight board, our community can have a much more effective methodology and clearer picture of economic development goals, and pursue these goals together;
3) Better Use of Staff—staff can better share responsibilities and assist each other and as new initiatives are implemented, will be better trained to assist volunteers in the pursuit of organizational goals;
4) Strength at the Top—a new CEO will have more expertise in organizational management and economic development;
5) Business Leverage—with business coming together under one “umbrella”, the business community will realize greater strength in areas such as advocacy;
6) Credibility—both organizations will gain strength in credibility and relevance by developing even more programs to assist and positively impact business;
7) Filling Gaps—where there are gaps in the community’s economic development programs, such as retail development, greater financial and personnel resources can be proactive in filling;
8) Growing Out—as other programs are identified, the new organization can more easily bring together other ideas and organizations that have economic development goals;
9) Small Business Growth—small businesses will be an active partner with larger corporations in helping to shape the community’s economic future; and finally,
10) Good Sense—it just makes good sense for business organizations with an eye for their service area’s growth to work closely together rather than in their own silos.
While there are many more, these are ten pretty good reasons to bring together the best of two very strong organizations into one focused enterprise aimed at growing our economy and making Midland and Midland County an even better place to do business and bring new business in.
A task force composed of representatives from both organizations has been studying the collaboration for several months and presented its findings and recommendations to the Chamber’s and Midland Tomorrow’s Boards of Directors. Both boards considered the recommendations to proceed with one umbrella organization and one CEO to manage it, and voted separately and unanimously to move forward with the concept.
Waverly Partners, a search firm specializing in executive searches for chambers of commerce and economic development organizations, has been retained to lead the search, supported by a volunteer committee, again, with representatives from both organizations. Sharon Miller of ITH Staffing is the chair of the volunteer committee. While no timetable has been set, it is hoped that a new executive will be in place in early fall.