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Chamber voting results in merger of FM, WF Chambers

The Chamber of Commerce of Fargo Moorhead and the West Fargo Area Chamber of Commerce will be merging effective September 1, operating as the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.

Vote results that polled membership on whether the two factions should combine into one were released a week ago with 72 percent of West Fargo membership responding voting 'yes,' and the Fargo Moorhead Chamber poll resulting in a 98 percent 'yes' vote.

Last March, board members from both organizations began discussions regarding a possible merger, prompted by chamber members seeking more information on the proposal.

Talks ensued, and two town hall meetings were held to gain input and answer questions regarding what a possible merger would mean before members were given the opportunity to vote.

Combined the two chambers will have well over 2,000 members.

At the press conference last week announcing the results of the vote, chamber leaders outlined benefits of the merger which include: broadening the focus of a regional chamber making the metropolitan community shine even brighter on a national scale; unified efforts providing efficiencies and increased value for the members; access to established chamber events and programs, business training, networking opportunities, and leadership programs, enriching the experience; and with an expanded membership base an enhanced ability to influence public policy issues important to the business community.

West Fargo Area Chair Kathy Lewin said combining the two chambers "signals an exciting day for our city, our members and the region. West Fargo is a 'city on the grow' and will continue to be a vibrant community as we join forces with the Fargo Moorhead Chamber. Both of our organizations share the same mission and passion for helping area businesses succeed. Now, this will be even more enhanced by the expanded resources and networking opportunities that will be available for the entire member base as a result of the merger."

Fargo Moorhead Chamber President and CEO Craig Whitney said he feels the merger is a "very exciting development for the business community and the Fargo Moorhead areas. The opportunity for the two chambers to merge and form a larger unified voice of business for the region will result in many benefits for both our joint members, as well as the members that were unique to the West Fargo Chamber. For these members to be able to take advantage of networking, business training and all the other events, provides a huge benefit to them and the businesses they conduct."

Some small details of the merger have yet to be fine-tuned, but most of the major points are set, among them the retention of four West Fargo board members on the merged board of directors expanded from 12 to 16 members, retaining the two West Fargo staff members, as well as the continuation of the West Fargo office until May of 2011.