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Ann Arbor and Ypsi Chambers merge--New regionalism or a sign of trouble

13. January 2010 • Chuck Warpehoski
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As reported by, Yesterday the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Chambers of Commerce had a breakfast to discuss their merger.

What does the merger mean? Is it:

  1. A sign of growing regionalism in the county?
  2. A sign that the economy is hurting even Chambers and they have to band together to stay alive?
  3. An indication that the whole Chamber of Commerce idea is getting less meaningful in today’s world, so Chambers have to band together to stay alive?

What will the merger help? What will be the challenges in it?

(These are all real questions I have, but now I sound like I’m writing high school essay test questions.)

  1. And here’s another question: What is the plural of “Chamber of Commerce”? Do you put the “S” on Chamber or on Commerce?

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Jan. 13 '10 - 10:32PM    #
  2. One vote for “Chambers of Commerce”.

       —Bruce Fields    Jan. 14 '10 - 02:15AM    #
  3. I’ve spoken with quite a few members of the Ypsilanti Chamber who were completely blindsided by the merger news. The deal seems to have been done very quickly, behind closed doors, and without consulting the membership. That concerns me more than what sort of sign it may indicate.

       —nammeroo    Jan. 14 '10 - 06:39AM    #
  4. I thought it very odd because I would not think that the Ypsi and Ann Arbor business communities always have the same objectives. I think #2 is the most reasonable, paired with, perhaps, some financial issues in the way the AA Chamber was managed.

    Another vote for “Chambers”.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Jan. 14 '10 - 07:36AM    #
  5. I’d say it’s a bit of all of those. I think there is benefit to the Ann Arbor and Ypsi business communities cooperating more, and I’m all for the Chamber building a sense of regionalism by cooperating.

    Like nammeroo, what I’ve heard from Ann Arbor Chamber employees is that they were surprised by this announcement. I have only heard things 3rd hand, but what I’ve heard is that employees knew there was talk, but didn’t know how far along the talk was.

    Again with the rumor mill, but John Petz descriptions of both Chambers , vice as “financially sound” seems a bit doubtful. The Ann Arbor Chamber has been laying off people and reportedly has plans to leave its current space to save money.

    Many membership organizations have had a hard time adapting to the Internet age, and I think the Chambers of Commerce have had that same challenge. Fraternal organizations, churches, and others have struggled to stay vibrant when people can join a Facebook group for free rather than pay dues to join a traditional group.

    I do wonder how they will keep Ypsi businesses (especially retail businesses) happy with this and not make Ypsi a junior partner. Choosing Diane Keller as the President of the combined Chamber is a good start.

    The lack of an inclusive process that nammeroo saw in Ypsi and I heard from Ann Arbor staff makes me think that they didn’t make the decision in the right way, but I do think they made a good decision.

    (And I too vote for Chambers. After all, the “Chamber of Secrets” was just one chamber, so pluralizing “commerce” wouldn’t indicate more than one group.)

       —nonameplease    Jan. 14 '10 - 08:33AM    #
  6. OK, glad to hear I had the spelling correct.

    I do get the feeling that they are putting a good face on hard times, but I hope it will promote more regionalism.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Jan. 15 '10 - 08:00PM    #
  7. The Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce has failed to recognize or promote the tradition known as Hash Bash, making Hash Bash the largest public event in the U.S. not sanctioned by a local Chamber of Commerce.

    I hope such a merger will lead to greater recognition of this event which embodies manifests the spirit and values of the Ann Arbor community.

       —Kerry D.    Jan. 18 '10 - 06:59AM    #