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Baltimore Chamber goes on hiatus

BALTIMORE – The Baltimore Chamber of Commerce will only be operating in a very diminished capacity.

According to a chamber news release, the BACC Board of Directors, after much consideration, chose to suspend most activities associated with the chamber. Due to dwindling participation from member businesses, the chamber is no longer able to operate as it has in the past.

“After talking with members, the Downtown Restoration Committee and the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce were made up of virtually the same members,” said Baltimore Administrator Scott Brown. “Even though the two organization do not have identical goals or objectives the members were just stretched too thin to maintain two separate committees.” Brown said the BDRC has a 501c3 and a little more infrastructure. “Subsequently, I think the members decided to focus their attention on that committee,” he said. “However, the members are still focused on the same goal of providing the business community the support necessary to be successful.”

“It was not an easy decision to make,” said chamber Chief Executive Judith Cosgray. She said the chamber is approximately 25 years old, and always a small chamber, catering to the businesses within and surrounding Baltimore. The average membership hovered around 60, and went as high as 100 in 2009. “They were never an extremely active group, but in about 2005 we decided that to be more competitive with the other chambers and provide ‘value’” she said. Cosgray said the thought was the chamber needed to expand operations with events, etc. “It was going very well until the downturn in the economy later that year of 2009,” she said. “We lost businesses, and the ones that stayed lost employees. We actually had many more that retired or sold their businesses and moved, which the new people that came in their place were not volunteering like the old guard.”

According to the release, BACC will continue to:

• Offer health insurance through SOCA.

• Support the Buy Baltimore and Baltimore Bucks programs: promoting member business via Facebook ads, newspaper ads and promotions

• Maintain Website/Social Media: Businesses must contact the BACC via email to have their promotion advertised.

Activities being dropped include monthly meetings, the yearly banquet, the scholarship program, phone service and the Baltimore Downtown Restoration Committee will take over the community yard sale and Shop Small Saturday.

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