• Special to the Daily Leader
The four largest Chambers of Commerce in Southwest Kansas have formed a partnership known as the Southwest Kansas Chambers of Commerce. The purpose of the alliance is to combine the strengths of the local Chambers of Commerce in Southwest Kansas, to provide a positive impact on growth and development of Southwest Kansas by addressing regional issues, legislative concerns and internal issues within individual Chambers while maintaining the individuality of the local Chambers.
The four executives of each of the Chambers of Commerce of Liberal, Grant County (Ulysses), Dodge City and Garden City have been meeting monthly since August of last year, and each of the boards of directors recently ratified the bylaws of new entity.
“We’ve already begun planning and implementing a 2009 program of work,” said executive director of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce Rozelle Webb. “First up, we’re planning an educational seminar for all Chambers in Southwest Kansas in June covering topics of fund- raising and income generation, membership recruitment and retention
and other general ideas that’ll positively impact a Chamber.
Invitations for this event called, “Mini-Institute” were sent last month,” added Webb. “Besides the seminar, this year, we’ll host an annual legislative dinner in the fall somewhere in Southwest Kansas, host a Southwest Kansas Chambers of Commerce Day in Topeka each spring, and we’re beginning discussions on a regional leadership program. Throughout everything we do, we hope to work very closely with our state’s Southwest Kansas legislative delegation complimenting and supporting them,” added Webb.
“It’s a terrific idea and we should have started something like this years ago in Southwest Kansas,” said Marieta Hauser, president of the Grant County Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’ll now be able to speak as one united group to benefit and advance the Southwest Kansas region.
Additionally, we hope to positively impact the entire region on economic development issues, on state and federal legislation and on political concerns. We’ll also compliment the regional work that the cities and counties are doing too as they work together,” Hauser added.
“There are a number of regional challenges, opportunities and needs that require the support of all Southwest Kansas and we all know there is strength in numbers,” said Paul Joseph, president of the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce. “The idea of combining the strengths of each individual Chamber to address these opportunities
magnifies our voice and the impact we can have on any one issue.
Working regionally on economic development issues has proven successful all across the nation. In today’s economy, if we want to compete nationally, we must work regionally,” adds Joseph.
Cindy Malek, president of the Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce agrees. “Yes, not only that but we can get more attention on our pressing issues due to the greater number of members we’ll have on any issue by working together regionally,” she added. “We’re combining the strengths but remaining competitive individually. It’s the better of two worlds. And, any one group of the four can veto any issue that comes to the group so that what we do rally around to support will be unanimous. We’ll all be speaking in concert together.
That’s powerful,” Malek added.
The Southwest Kansas Chambers of Commerce rotates its monthly meetings between the four communities. The new partnership will not impact the current programs or activities of any individual Chamber and is not designed to support any individual event or program of any of its members. The partnership only applies to regional issues.