In an unexpected and bold move, the board of directors of the Lamberville Area Chamber of Commerce voted Thursday night to rename and re-brand the organization under the “Greater Lambertville-New Hope Chamber of Commerce” banner.
As first reported in the Free Press, the move is part of a series of measures aimed at boosting the business group’s appeal to New Hope and beyond in a bid to capitalize on the enormous growth potential they envision through tourism efforts emphasizing the attraction of visiting two distinct towns within walking distance of one another.
The Lambertville Chamber isn’t alone in stepping into the tourism void caused by the New Hope Chamber’s decision to go on hiatus until March. The New Hope Business Alliance, Bucks County Playhouse and VC 2015 have all attempted to position themselves as one-stop, inclusive promoters of New Hope business and tourism in recent weeks.
Below is an unedited announcement direct from the new Greater Lambertville-New Hope Chamber of Commerce:
Recognizing the strong ties that bind the futures on both sides of the Delaware River, the Lambertville Area Chamber of Commerce has taken the initial steps to create a regionalized entity to articulate a clearer vision for economic success in the sister communities of Lambertville and New Hope, as well as the entire central Delaware River valley.
On Thursday, the Chamber’s Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization to the Greater Lambertville-New Hope Chamber of Commerce, drawing on the inextricable links between the business communities in both municipalities. In addition, the Board endorsed changes to the Chamber’s bylaws that would ensure representation from both communities on the Chamber’s governing body. Many of the Chamber’s current active membership are New Hope-based businesses.
“Despite being separate municipalities in separate states, Lambertville and New Hope are one destination and one business community,” said Chamber President Wilson Weed. “Neither of our communities can fully thrive unless the other shares in that prosperity. Our two organizations worked in partnership in the past, but we will be much stronger as one entity advocating for our region. That’s the new direction we are taking the Chamber of Commerce in by reaching across the bridge.”
Under the new regionalized vision, the Chamber also will work to grow its service area from the traditional bases of Lambertville and New Hope and into surrounding communities, including Frenchtown, Washington Crossing, Solebury, and Stockton.
“While we love our individual hometowns, we need to pull together individuals from both shores who will work for success up and down the river,” said Weed. “We all know how special our river towns are, and we should promote them in one voice.”
The Chamber’s Board of Directors also voted unanimously to hire Lambertville resident David Morgan as the Chamber’s first full-time Executive Director. Morgan has more than 30 years’ experience in private and public sector management in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including service as a past president of the Trenton Boys & Girls Clubs, where he oversaw that organization’s restructuring and revitalization.
“Dave brings a wealth of knowledge and relationships in business and government on both sides of the Delaware River that will help us grow,” said Weed. “We will be looking to him to grow our membership, build upon our already successful events to provide real value to Chamber members, and take on new initiatives to grow our footprint and marketing as a true destination location.”
“The opportunity to help the Chamber take this step in re-branding and relaunching as a regional voice for commerce is especially exciting,” said Morgan. “Our communities do so much as one already, it only makes sense that our business communities come together at the Chamber level, as well. People know Lambertville and they know New Hope, but we will be in a much stronger position when we are no longer thought of separately, but truly as one destination. And for our members, I think they will see that partnering with our sister businesses across the river on an even greater level will help all of us succeed.”
The Board also voted to retain Yolanda Adragna, and elevate her to the post of Chamber Administrator. She will continue to maintain the Chamber’s business accounts and process memberships, along with running the Chamber office’s daily operations. She also will assist Executive Director Morgan in instituting and running new programs.
“In Dave and Yolanda, we have a strong front-end team to ensure the Chamber runs smoothly and is open to ideas not only from our members, but the communities we serve,” said Weed. “This is an exciting time for us, and we look forward to helping all our businesses grow and make our river region an even better place to work, visit, live, and raise a family.”
The changes are expected to be ratified at the annual meeting of the membership of the Chamber, to be held Saturday, January 31.