Keene, Peterborough Chambers of Commerce merging

  • The "Peterborough" sign in front of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce building. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Published: 11/18/2020 5:19:59 PM

The Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce announced last week that the organizations are close to merging to become one regional chamber.

Earlier this year, boards of both chambers “voted to proceed with the idea, forming task forces to conduct due diligence and work out other details” according to Tuesday’s news release. The new regional chamber will have close to 700 member organizations with the merger expected to be legally final in 2021.

“The two Chambers have collaborated on a number of events together in recent years, so this is really a natural next step,” said Tom Minkler, Chair of the Board of the Greater Keene Chamber from Clark-Mortenson Insurance in Keene. “The Chambers have very similar missions, and there are economies of scale we believe will benefit the business community throughout the Monadnock Region. Our Chamber already has members in more than 40 communities, and our Chambers also have a number of members in common.”

The idea of chambers merging is not new. In the past year, the Souhegan and Merrimack Chambers have merged, as have the Lebanon and Hanover Chambers, an organization now known as the Upper Valley Business Alliance.

A number of details are yet to be worked out, such as what the newly evolved organization will be called, and how the events each chamber has sponsored in the past will be presented in the future, the news release said. But the integration has already begun, as two members of the board of the Greater Peterborough Chamber, Patty Blake and Karen Hatcher, were elected to the board of the Greater Keene Chamber in October.

“We have worked collaboratively as sister organizations in the Monadnock Region for several years. The pandemic of 2020 has demonstrated the importance of a strong group to represent the business community, and we believe we can do that most efficiently and effectively going forward as one regional organization,” Blake, from Peoples United Bank and Co-Chair of the Board of the Greater Peterborough Chamber, said. Blake is the incoming 2021-22 chair of the board of the new chamber with her term beginning on Oct. 1, 2021.

In a message to members, the organizations said “it has become increasingly difficult for small Chambers to sustain themselves financially, with many now completely dependent on volunteers. The Greater Peterborough Chamber has been in this situation for more than a year. The COVID pandemic didn’t cause this, but it may have exposed the difficulty of providing value to members without the resources to do so. In short, we are confident that, moving forward as one Chamber, the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts. The financial condition of the newly combined entity projects to be good – enough to maintain sufficient staff, and some robust programming (pandemic guidelines permitting) for years to come.”

“Much of what we do has a regional flavor to it. We have a lot of work to do, but we have great volunteer leadership, and I’m confident we’ll gain efficiencies with this new business model, without losing the local flavor we value so much in each of our communities. We’ll be engaging our members in the months ahead, to hear their thoughts and ideas. It is for our me mbers that we exist, and we are committed to providing meaningful value to them, large and small,” said Phil Suter, the current President/CEO of the Greater Keene Chamber who will continue to be the President/CEO of the new organization. 

For more information, contact Suter at psuter@keenechamber.com. 


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