Business Gardner MA

Concerns about the Chamber

A Gardner Magazine Editorial

Gardner Magazine would like to help SAVE THE GARDNER CHAMBER.   For years, the North Central Chamber of Commerce headquartered in the Fitchburg-Leominster area has cast its sphere of influence on Greater Gardner and has made no secret that it would gladly absorb the Greater Gardner Chamber.  We recently completed a map (shown below) of the claimed coverage area of various Chambers throughout Worcester, Middlesex, and Central Massachusetts.   As you can see, North Central claims an area from Royalston to Groton.   Various joint Chamber events have been held.  But we must remember, the City of Gardner is still in competition with its neighbors to the East, and maintaining a separate and distinct identity is vital to the continuing mission of Gardner’s growth.  A strong, local Greater Gardner Chamber is vital to Gardner’s interests and must be preserved.

Why are we worried?  North Central engages with the media.  Greater Gardner Chamber leadership is not found on popular local talk show Hotline Radio on WGAW AM 1340, press releases are not seen published in the Gardner News, and Gardner Magazine calls to interview Chamber leadership have been ignored.    We do see some Facebook posts of Chamber leaders showing up at some Grand openings and announcements of Chamber networking functions and fundraising activities.   However, to sustain healthy membership retention and membership growth, the community needs the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce to be fully engaged and we urge that members demand they do so.

For our part, Gardner Magazine is donating a site-wide banner ad linking to the Chamber website (value $125 per month) reaching our extensive circulation.

Chamber of Commerce Map - Worcester County, Middlesex County, Central Massachusetts

Gardner Magazine spent some time preparing the Chamber map above showing the claimed influence and coverage of various Chambers of Commerce in Worcester and Middlesex Counties.   Note that some communities are claimed by several chambers.   Barre by North Quabbin, Greater Gardner, and North Central.   Sterling by Nashoba Valley, North Central, and Wachusett.   We just thought it would be interesting to note.

Business Gardner MA

Save the Greater Gardner Chamber

We believe that “maintaining a separate and distinct identity is vital to the continuing mission of Gardner’s growth. A strong, local Greater Gardner Chamber is vital to Gardner’s interests and must be preserved.

We urge the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce to engage with our local radio station(s), local newspaper(s), and local magazine, Gardner MAgazine.

Let the Greater Gardner Chamber know what you think. Here’s a link to their website.

For example here’s what the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce states on its site, “focused on building a strong local economy and way of life in the region through economic development, and civic and social engagement.”  We note that the Greater Gardner Chamber has been visibly absent from area newspapers, radio, and this magazine and we know that efforts have been made to contact Chamber leadership and offer publicity by the media, but these overtures have been largely ignored.  

We urge Chamber members to demand a change as the Greater Gardner Chamber had a proud history of being visible.   Some time after its location moved from an easily accessible office on Main Street to its hidden den in the Bank of America building, it has squandered an opportunity to be relevant.   Let’s hope that changes.   Some have suggested that merging the Greater Gardner Chamber with North Central would be a great idea.   I disagree.   The Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce simply needs to engage with its community again.  Membership will grow again.  But for that to happen, the organization needs to come out of hiding.  Its occasional posts on Facebook and showing up at Grand Openings is insufficient.  It needs to be a visible voice.

Let’s get the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce engaged with the community again.  Let’s get it to engage and be a true partner again with  city and town governments, various community leaders, and accessible to the media.  I’ve looked at their Facebook page and it’s been there to share the limelight where others have succeeded (grand openings etc.), promotes its internal networking and interaction with other chambers, and promotes its fundraising efforts. 

Chamber leadership is somewhat clueless as to why membership retention continues to be difficult and why new member signups are not more robust.   It’s all about perception and that can change if the Chamber chooses.

 Radio station WGAW 1340 is ready to interview Chamber leaders, the Gardner News is ready to run a news story, and Gardner Magazine has been a supporter for 21 years now, poised to jump into action at the slightest whimper of a publicity request.    Hope this editorial reaches some people who can make a wake up call to Chamber leadership.    We all want to support you.    So stop hiding and please return media calls. Engage with the media who all want to be partners in your success.  We want to save the Chamber.   We don’t want you to surrender and allow yourselves to be absorbed or fade into irrelevancy due to lack of sufficient membership revenue.  That would be a waste of a long and proud history of achievement.