Chamber/EDC to merge, look nationally for new leader

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The Springs’ Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corp. have agreed to merge – and to embark on a national search for someone to lead the new organization.

Board chairmen from both organizations announced today they they will create a unification committee that will develop a  merger plan by Nov. 30.  About 250 people – mostly business leaders and politicians – attended the press conference where the announcement was made.

“We expect that we’ll have an agreement in place and become a single organization by the beginning of 2012,” said Doug Quimby, board chairman and acting CEO of the EDC. “We expect there will be some major discussions, there’s a lot of work to be done, but we think we’ll get there.”

The plan will include details such as financing, location, structure and governance. Right now the groups have very different funding. The chamber is funded largely by members and events, while the EDC receives most of its money from businesses seeking to expand the region’s economic development outreach.

Dave Csintyan is the president of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, but the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. has been without a full-time president and CEO since Mike Kazmierski stepped down from the job in May. Doug Quimby, EDC board chair, is the acting CEO of the organization and helped make the announcement.

Csintyan was praised for his work at the chamber by Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, one of only two staff members recognized.

“We need to recognize the man who brought the chamber back, when it looked like it was going away financially, at least,” Bach said.  “That man is Dave Csintyan.”

Julie Boswell, EDC vice president of development and communications , was also recognized for her years of service.

The press release detailed “six core functions of focus” for the merged organization:

1. Economic development, including  job attraction, local industry and business retention and job growth, business and job growth through entrepreneurial activities, and capital investment.

2. Community development, including infrastructure that promotes economic growth and jobs.
3. Military affairs and development.

4. Governmental affairs and public policy, including promotion of a strong and friendly business climate.

5. Marketing and communications.

6. Membership and business services.

The roadmap toward merging was largely praised by the audience, but Anne Wamser of Garden of the Gods Bank, raised an issue.

“I’ve heard nothing in this plan that has anything to do with small business,” she said. “And we hire more people than anybody. I urge you not to forget about the small businesses when planning this process.”

Following up, another audience member asked about small business representatives on the unification board. Quimby said it depended on the definition – but there were local business executives on the committee.

Members of the committee:

Scott Blackmun, CEO of the United States Olympic Committee

Debbie Chandler, CEO of Colorado Springs Health Partners

Toby Gannet, president of the Palisades at the Broadmoor

Mike Jorgensen, vice president of Red Nolan Cadillac

Dan Malinaric, chief principal of Atmel’s operation in Colorado Springs

Tom Naughton, CEO of US Bank

Tom Neppl, CEO of Springs Fabrication

Doug Quimby, acting CEO of the EDC and CEO of La Plata Developers

Gene Renaurt, retired Air Force general

Pam Shockley-Zalabak, chancellor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Sherri Newell, chief public affairs officer of Colorado Springs Utilities

4 Responses to Chamber/EDC to merge, look nationally for new leader

  1. This is all great, but I agree with Anne Wamser that local small business is not being represented as part of the six core functions or a member on the Committee. As a small business owner (less than 50 employees) whose business has been a part of this community for 30 years, I think that my small business interest and that of many other members of the Chamber are being ignored.

    The Mayor, the Govenor and most of our local elected officals continue to speak publicly that small business is the way our city and state will grow. I guess this is more smoke and mirrors from our elected officals and big business (mostly military, developer and financial institutions).

    Why is there a retired general on the committee, who is not even a business person? We need several small business owner (I included Springs Fabriaction as a potential small business but I believe that his business customers are military and developers) as a member of the committee.

    Small business owners can always vote, by discontinuing their financial support for the current and new organizations.

    Ron
    August 23, 2011 at 12:26 pm

  2. That makes sense: Lets look nationally for someone to lead an organization that’s based exclusively on local membership and directorship.

    In terms of the community, that means the person who might be picked to lead this organization may be the least knowledgable person in the room. And it’ll take that person 5 years to figure out how this town works, longer if some the Board folks feel their respective pet issues aren’t being served.

    This merger is the right thing to do……get somebody from around here and keep building credibility.

    John Whitten
    August 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm

  3. Ditto Ron’s comments above, “The Mayor, the Govenor and most of our local elected officals continue to speak publicly that small business is the way our city and state will grow. I guess this is more smoke and mirrors from our elected officals and big business (mostly military, developer and financial institutions).

    Why is there a retired general on the committee, who is not even a business person? We need several small business owner (I included Springs Fabriaction as a potential small business but I believe that his business customers are military and developers) as a member of the committee. “(Ron, 2011).

    Hopefully this is not just one more step to regionalizatin and global central government which is over-riding our free market by individuals and our Constitutional Republic.

    Theresa Niel
    August 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm

  4. It’s a great idea to merge those two organizations. A lot of recouses can be saved.

    To look for somebody nationwide does not makes sense in a town like Colorado Springs, which thinks very locally, especially when we have so qualified people like Dave Csintyan in town.

    Further I agree as well with Anne Wamser. Why are no small business people on the committee, knowing that small businesses are creating more jobs then the unreliable profit-hungry national companies, who come when business is doing good, but leave immediately, when the economy is changing and creating lot’s of unemployed people. We should start learning from the past and not doing the same mistakes over and over again.

    For a lot of people it seems just important to sit on boards and committees, so their names appear in the news!!!

    Peter Maerky
    August 24, 2011 at 12:36 am