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