Gold Coast Central and Southport Chambers of Commerce
Pros for amalgamation
One new Chamber
representing an area containing 58% of businesses based on the Gold Coast
from Tallebudgera Creek to Southport, Molendinar, Parkwood and out to Robina/Varsity and Nerang and everywhere between.
A Larger Chamber Membership allows for a more active Chamber, with a far stronger voice at all levels of Government. This merger will provide members with more contacts, a greater depth of service, additional programs and access to paid professional resources.
In order for Chambers to continue building value in the communities and regions they service, collaboration and synergy must come into play.
Whilst every region has specialised organisations offering important services to the business community, the underpinning from the Chamber's perspective revolves around strengthening the economic and educational forces at work, and the driving of relevant local policy. Collaboration can foster tremendous economies of scale, enabling everyone to reap the benefits of the increased number of resources available.
A merger of the Gold Coast Central Chamber and Southport Chamber benefits:
- The ability to increase the profile of the new Chamber and become the group on the Gold Coast that business wants to be a member of.
- Greater ability to lobby all levels of Government to promote the Chamber policies.
- Economies of scale – Reduction in administrative costs across the board, thus allowing the opportunity for expansion in areas that represent value to the members.
- The ability to create an organisational chart which provides the structure via local committees to enable the provision of services, events and information at the local suburban/regional level with the backing of proper central administrative support.
- One website – Cost savings and greater exposure for members, resulting in potentially more business for individual members. The business gateway to the Gold Coast.
- Greater Sponsorship Opportunities - As the membership numbers grow, this will offer a sponsor far greater opportunity for their money.
- Increased Event Attendance and Event Offer to the Members – A reduction of competing events gives the new Chamber the opportunity to offer a number of diverse events including networking and educational, to suit the diverse interests of the members with a larger pool of people to pull from.
- Ability to attract higher quality speakers given the membership numbers.
- Increased revenue opportunities continuing the ability to have a paid team to fill roles such as:
- Business Education Programs, Events management, Media Management, Membership Promotion & Policy support etc.
- Freeing up of the executive to carry out the overall role rather than stuck in admin.
- The achievement of a critical mass that allows the ability to acquire corporate knowledge (accumulated wisdom & Chamber knowledge) across 58% of the businesses on the Gold Coast and to be able to use that knowledge to provide systems, procedures, standard forms, guidelines etc to assist in the delivery of information, events and services.
- The future potential of strong strategic alliances with partners in government, education, health care and business to develop a consensus vision, acting as a force that brings all elements together, creating synergy that fosters growth, stability and strength for our Region.
- A permanent Chamber office by carrying on Southport Chamber's existing CBD office and PO Box.
- The merged Chamber will continue to recognise and support Southport as the CBD of the Gold Coast.
There is much more scrutiny of how and where company funds are allocated with all membership organisations today, so vitality and relevancy are increasingly crucial. Challenging economic times have moved all potential members to ask, "What will I get for this investment?" rather than saying, "I will make this investment because it is the right thing to do." This merger will give current members and potential members an easy answer to this question.
Cons for amalgamation
1. A risk of loss of identity for each area. The local suburb and businesses feeling they no longer have anyone as their voice or representation because the new Chamber is too far removed from them and is catering for big picture items.
Within the organisational structure of an amalgamated Chamber there can be a committee for Southport. The committee will be chaired by a Vice-President or a Chairperson and will attend to local matters including the delivery of services, information, surveys, recommendations and coordination of networking and other events to its local business members. It is expected that the local committee for Southport will operate in a similar fashion to the present Southport Chamber. Southport and Central will, however, have the benefit of one "Head Office" to take care of treasury matters, accounting, event management and media.
The Chairperson or VP of a local Southport committee will represent and initiate matters for the amalgamated Chamber in a similar way to the previous President of the Southport Chamber in but with the backing and administrative support of a better resourced "Head Office".
The draft constitution for the amalgamated Chamber should be modelled on the existing Central Constitution which contains the following two special provisions to initiate and allow for governance in local areas:
3 (q) To set up a system of governance within the Association so that areas of the Gold Coast will have available to them, their own committee operating within the organisational structure of the Association to attend to local matters including but not limited to delivering and providing networking opportunities, surveys, information, events and other services to local businesses in furtherance of the objects of the Association.
Appointment of Committees:
27(2) The Board of Management may appoint committees consisting of financial members of the Association considered appropriate by the Board to deliver services, information, make recommendations, coordinate events and to help with the conduct of the Association's operations in particular designated suburbs, electoral boundaries, geographical areas or to deal with particular issues within the general area of operation of the Association. The Board of Management may choose the chairperson of such a committee. If appropriate, and with approval of the Board of Management, a committee may use the services of volunteers or non-members to assist in carrying out its functions. Volunteers or non-members may engage in deliberations on matters before a committee but may not vote.
The risk of loss of identity is overcome by an effective local committee.
2. Local networking being lost as the new Chamber moves onto bigger things.
The local committee will continue to ensure there is a good balance of local networking and it will be supported by "Head Office". In fact, members will have a much greater opportunity to network because many local businesses cover a wider area than their local suburb and members can receive notification of all networking events across the whole area of the amalgamated Chamber.
3. Politically inclined persons seizing the opportunity to get on board a bigger Chamber and making it a forum for political machinations and self promotion rather than having a complete focus on the interests of its business members
The Central constitution contains a significant "non-political" clause. This clause has proven effective in previous Chambers and has led to Boards of Management focused on Chamber matters and on the business needs of their members.
4. More opinions to balance and regions to consider in the splitting of monies to suit the needs of each region
A properly instituted accounting system and treasury committee can provide the Board of Management with proper management and financial information to enable the proper allocation of resources across the organisational structure and to the committees.
5. Constitutional changes to existing Chambers - new constitution
A new constitution should be significantly based on the existing Central Chamber constitution and will address future issues and even allow for further amalgamations. The proposed constitution of any amalgamated Chamber must be voted on by the members of the constituent Chambers.
6. Need for physical office, manning, expense/location.
Central will benefit in the amalgamation by adopting Southport's existing office for Board meetings, storage and a place of work for the "Head Office". The office will have a proper accounting system, word processing and a good IT solution to allow information to be readily accessible by all Board members and appropriate employees.
6. What happens to Life Members of the previous Chambers?
The draft constitution of the amalgamated Chamber will contain a provision for Life Members and the amalgamation provisions of the Associations Act expressly provide that membership transfers at the same level from the constituent Chambers to the new Chamber. Life Membership will be retained.
8. Local Councilors and local Members of Parliament losing touch with their local Chamber of Commerce.
Local Councillors and local Members of Parliament will easily get to know the VP or Chairperson of the local committee of the Chamber and will be able to continue having an association with them at a local level.