Chambers may merge over state lines - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Chambers may merge over state lines

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- The Dubuque Area and Galena, Illinois chambers of commerce may join forces.

"If we can be successful as individuals, as individual communities, that makes our region stronger together," Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce CEO and president Molly Grover said.

Both she and Denise Spielman, the Galena Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors president, said this is a win-win situation for their respective members.

The Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce has nearly 1,500 members.

"Having the strength of that membership really allows you the resources to have more programs and resources and speak with a loud, influential voice for business climate issues," Grover said.

The Galena Chamber of Commerce has more than 300 members, although some businesses are members of both.

"On the Galena Chamber side," Grover said, "having access to resources that smaller chambers typically don't have is a great benefit for them."

"Increased exposure for any business is huge," Spielman said. "Increased revenue is huge for any business. Just the opportunities that we can both offer our members are far as educational and legislative issues. Those are huge benefits."

Chamber leaders said shared resources and a stronger, more united legislative voice on issues of business advocacy are only a few of the many perks they would expect members to receive.

Spielman said a lot of Galena businesses would "have the opportunity to promote themselves in a larger arena, so to speak, and we're very competitive with a lot of what we have to offer, so it gives them an opportunity to market to a larger area."

However, not every Galena Chamber of Commerce member is yet sold on the idea.

"That's the biggest concern, is the loss of identity," Spielman said, "and I don't ever foresee that happening. Galena is Galena. It's extremely unique."

"We don't want to pick up the Dubuque business community and plop it into Galena," Grover said. "We want to promote the assets, the attributes and the wonderful thing that makes Galena the special town that it is."

Chef Ivo is the owner of the Galena Canning Company.

"I'm totally in favor of it," he said of the merger. "Galena will continue to be this great, wonderful small town, and Dubuque is growing, and I don't see any reason why they can't work together."

He said he'd like to see the Galena Chamber expand and for the two cities to share in each others' strengths.

"People can come into Galena and they can go over and visit Dubuque, and they can go stay in Dubuque and come and visit Galena," he said. "I mean, it's just a 'one hand washes the other' here. I think it's exciting that this could work. I mean, I think it's just a win-win for everybody."

As far as the identity concern, he said, "Galena will never lose its identity as to the historic charm and all the history and everything's that here and the beautiful buildings and everything, and it's going to continue to stay busy. It has, it's weathered through all different periods so far."

Dubuque members will have a chance to vote on the merger electronically this month, and Galena members will vote at a meeting on March 3.

Dubuque and Galena wouldn't be the first chamber merger involving an Iowa city. About three years ago, the Waterloo and Cedar Falls chambers of commerce merged, becoming the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance.

Looking back at that period of merging, the Alliance CEO said Monday the largest benefit was to see things as one economic area. He said his advice to Dubuque and Galena would be to put a plan in writing and keep making progress.

KWWL is a member of the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce.

Online Reporter: Becca Habegger

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