Chamber and DCEDC discuss working together

Hunter Herbaugh
Thursday, April 15, 2021
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The Glendive Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture has a largely new board. (L to R) Teresea Olson, Carrie Skartved, Dara Deines, Sara Plummer, Denny Malone, Christie Bury, Cody Sevier, Mary Ann Phipps, Katelynne Eslick, Misty Dorsey and Harmeet Singh currently guide the Chamber without a director. Submitted photo

Following the initiation of a discussion of a possible partnership between the Dawson County Economic Development Council and the Glendive Chamber of Commerce, the DCEDC has formally addressed the Chamber’s board of directors regarding the subject. Bringing the two groups into a closer working relationship started as a possible course of action with the DCEDC when it suggested making the move at their March meeting. A couple of members of the Chamber board were present at that meeting.

Bringing a county’s economic development entity and a community’s Chamber of Commerce into a partnership is not unheard of. It recently happened in Miles City, and according to the DCEDC’s Executive Director Jason Stuart, it is becoming more common in rural communities.

“This kind of arrangement, where you’ve got the Chamber and the EDC working together, partnered or merged in some fashion is becoming very, very common. In the past month we’ve been talking about this, everybody that I’ve talked to not just within Glendive, even outside of Glendive, people in the state offices have been like ‘that’s a great idea, you guys should do it,’ and it’s been more common, everyone is going in this direction,” Stuart said.

Among the advantages that Stuart noted, a closer partnership could bring, the ability to share resources would be a major asset to both entities. Stuart also added it would help bring some stability to the Chamber’s leadership, noting that in his three years as DCEDC Executive Director, the Chamber has gone through three or four different directors. Even now, the chamber is operating without an official director and a majority of the board members are new.

Stuart noted that these are the same issues Miles City aimed to fix when their EDC and Chamber decided to partner up in January, albeit the instability was with their EDC leadership rather than their chamber. John Laney, who now serves as the executive director of both entities in Miles City, was present at the DCEDC’s meeting last month where he noted that the decision has so far worked out well for them, allowing them to work more effectively.

DCEDC President Rhett Coon also noted that sharing resources such as staff and members between the two groups would be helpful as fewer people are joining service organizations these days. He said that with the two entities combined, it would be pos sible to do more with the people they have available.

“Aside from the business structure, as you guys know even 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, it was always, what did they say, 10% of the people doing 90% of the work and it’s getting harder and harder because fewer and fewer people are joining service organizations and doing stuff, so it’s harder finding board members, getting quorums, all that stuff,” he said.

Coon also added that a partnership could also improve effeciency, as each group would have a better understanding of what the other is doing and would be able to avoid stepping on any toes.

Before any decisions are made on a partnership, the DCEDC and Chamber have decided to form a small exploratory committee that would go over the details of what that partnership would look like and how it would function. The committee members will then take those conversations back to their respective boards for a more thorough discussion.

In the meantime, Stuart has already reached out to provide a way for the two entities to cooperate in some way, saying he would be happy to help the Chamber in whatever way he can during the upcoming paddlefish season.

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