“Letter to the Editor”
Where in the Pocono Business Community is the Chamber of Commerce?
My question is prompted by more and more frequent meetings, both business and community service, that I attend where the question arises “What’s the Chamber’s position on this?” My question is also prompted by the Chamber’s complete lack of response to an inquiry of mine recently regarding the Chamber’s position on our area’s school budgets. Our community has a strong and effective economic development force in the Pocono Mountain Economic Development Corporation. So, while many community chambers of commerce are required to and do play a major role in economic development activities, such is not required here. However, our business community still needs someone to play the role of strong and vocal business advocate in our local and state governments, including school districts. It is said around town that our Chamber’s membership is in rapid decline and that the financial health of our Chamber is following suit. Some blame this on the economy. But business people are smart and they’re very good at recognizing a solid value proposition. I present that perhaps our Chamber’s membership and financial health is in decline because there is no good reason for area businesses to pay for membership. There should be. Everyone knows that the government’s (from Washington D.C. to Harrisburg to our school districts) assault on business is intense. There’s an abundance of opportunity for our Chamber to add value to our businesses by being our advocate, ally and supporter. It seems though that our Chamber’s leadership is not interested in leading the membership to take pro-business positions on tough issues such as school tax increases, selective property reassessment, regulations and permitting for new development, sign (or menu board) issues, and so on. I’m sure the response will be that “work goes on behind the scenes on these issues.” The very nature of the chamber, a collaboration of area businesses to achieve critical mass and momentum, belies such “behind the scenes” work. Besides, where are the results of that work? Now more than ever, the Pocono area business community needs a vibrant, strong and vocal chamber of commerce at its side. The Chamber’s board should seriously consider whatever changes are necessary to get our Chamber back in the game.
George K. Strunk