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New Hope Chamber of Commerce leaves non-members in the dark about ‘open community meeting’ scheduled on their behalf

New Hope Free Press Chamber of CommerceThe New Hope Chamber of Commerce appears to be backing away from its promises of “better communications” with the greater New Hope business community, failing to notify non-members of a meeting scheduled for Aug. 26 on their behalf at Borough Hall.

Chamber members last week received email invitations to a “general membership meeting,” but the invites weren’t sent to non-members, the event was no longer described as an “open community meeting,” and members were not urged to invite non-members.

On July 18, amid revelations about financial problems at the New Hope Chamber of Commerce, officials there declared that, “Within the week, we will announce a date for a community meeting at which all greater New Hope businesses, whether chamber members or not, can come ask questions and state their opinions about how the chamber can serve the community. This will be the first of a regular series of open meetings.”

In practice, the chamber failed to announce the meeting by July 25 as it had committed, waiting until mid-August. A survey of 20 downtown businesses during the last several days revealed that 90% were unaware of the upcoming meeting, and the 10% aware of the meeting were chamber members. The New Hope Chamber would not comment on the situation.

The chamber’s “open community meeting” will be held on Tuesday, August 26 at 7 p.m. in the New Hope Community Room, 125 New St., next to Borough Hall.

Don’t wait for an invitation to let your voice be heard.

About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • As a resident and co-owner of a business in town, my two cents…….I cannot speak about the previous COC as I was not involved in the day to day. But I am in a supportive role now to the current and ENTIRELY NEW COC. So….I can understand if some business owners in town have bad taste in their mouth with the past COC and in general. But this current COC is working hard to correct the mistakes of the past, mind you, that they were not involved with. My point…we all have a stake in this town, either as resident, business owner and in some cases both. Why can’t we work together, why do we have all this arguing, complaining, he said she said, spreading rumors etc. Why can’t we cut the bullshit, come together and work to make our community great! I have zero patience for trouble makers and people who go out of their way to be the problem and not the solution. The issues with the previous COC are well documented. The new COC board is trying to move forward, if you have an issue with the way they are handling projects. Attend a meeting, express your concerns and offer your services to implement. But standing on the side lines and arguing, complaining, he said she said, spreading rumors solves nothing! I look forward to the meeting on the 26th…to show 100% support for the current COC board. I hope everyone who has concerns will come to the meeting, so their concerns may be addressed and put to bed. So we ALL can move forward for the greater good of our awesome town….Good Day!

  • This afternoon, the New Hope Free Press published an article accusing the Greater New Hope Chamber of Commerce of “leav[ing] non-members in the dark about ‘open community meeting’ scheduled on their behalf.” The article is extremely facile. Had Mr. Sahner reached out to me as Chamber President, he would have learned:
    • Delays in scheduling the August 26 meeting resulted from mundane logistical challenges. We needed to commit our Board members to a single date during a period during which many members were taking vacations and several were dealing with personal crises. The onus for scheduling issues falls squarely on the Chamber. In his response, Jim Jolly incorrectly stated that it was the responsibility of the Borough.
    • We did not post earlier because we could not confirm a date until early last week. While Mr. Sahner is correct that we could have used the websites and Facebook, obviously there would have been no point in doing so until we had a date confirmed. He is correct that we should have posted last week.
    • The posters that Mr. Sahner described are due to be distributed to members this Tuesday. Jim Jolly, Vice President of the Chamber, reports that he informed Mr. Sahner of this during a conversation this afternoon, prior to the publication of the article. Jim did not intend to hand a poster to every shop keeper in town, but instead post them as widely as possible and post them in prominent locations for maximum exposure. We will be posting on Facebook and other sites this week.
    We are volunteers. We have businesses to run, families to care for, and the kinds of crises that all of us endure from time to time. Further, we are a fairly young Board. As we learn, we will make mistakes in execution. If the residents and businesses of New Hope choose to focus on deadlines we miss (with no malice), the Chamber will not be able to move forward in a positive, productive way. I hope that, going forward, the press can save public floggings for instances of true malfeasance, and not mere scheduling challenges.

    • Good points, Roger. But I would maintain that if the chamber was having trouble scheduling a meeting, that’s something you should have explained to the business community (to whom you made the commitment)…that would have been the transparent thing to to do…burying the event in an online calendar is not transparent. Living up to obligations and behaving in a professional manner is expected of both paid folks and volunteers, whether or not you’re “young and learning”, which you are not. Scheduling a meeting in the real world takes 10 minutes, as you know. Do you really believe that if people “focus on the deadlines we miss, we will not be able to move forward”? If so, my friendly advice is to stop missing deadlines, and I’ll be able to write about something else.

  • Charlie….just today, two hours prior to publishing this article, you visited my shop on West Mechanic St. I shared with you that an email went out to the membership, last week, concerning the meeting on August 26th. I then shared with you that this coming Tuesday, August 19th, that I would personally hand to each merchant and restaurant a personal invitation to attend the meeting on August 26th. That invitation would be a week prior to the meeting. One reason why we did not meet our deadline of July 25th, for the announcement for the August 26th meeting, was because we had to give the borough a list of the days that would work for everyone on the board so that we could reserve the borough hall for the meeting, and then wait to hear back which days would work for the borough. We are all volunteers here on the Chamber of Commerce board, and we all have lives and families outside of New Hope, and we all wanted to make certain that we could be there that night to answer questions. I also wish to make it known that 90% of the Chamber board members were not a part of the “past” Chamber board of directors that your articles were written about. I certainly was not on the past Chamber board of directors that were written about, and I personally believe that the new board members are working their hardest to make this a new and improved Chamber, including me. I believe that if you polled many merchants and restaurants in New Hope, that you will find that many of those people have seen me, and other Chamber board members, in their shops making an attempt to make a difference in New Hope. In fact, I have made many new friends in New Hope through visiting my friends that own shops in New Hope, and it is those people that have given me the “hope” to move forward and make New Hope a better place for our merchants. And, for that reason, I will not back down from my “volunteer” commitment to make New Hope a better place for all of us to own a business.

    Sincerely, Jim Jolly, Vice President, The Greater New Hope Chamber of Commerce.

    • Jim, your dedication to building the chamber and reaching out to the community is respected and indisputable. But to the point of the article, the chamber promised to communicate with the business community in mid-July and is sending one person to walk around to 200+ businesses right before labor day weekend? The chamber has 3 large websites, including Facebook, which have been silent, has issued no press releases or statements, and I’ve been in contact with someone at the chamber every week and never gotten a full response. With all due respect, for those of us who weren’t ready to write off the summer season in mid-July, looks like the chamber fell down on communicating this one.

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