Southern Wayne, Pocono Lake Region and Wayne County Chambers vote to merge

REGION - Ehrhardts was a buzz of activity on Wednesday afternoon during the membership meeting of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce. This meeting included members of the three area chambers: Southern Wayne Chamber, the Pocono Lake Region Chamber and the Wayne County Chamber. The guest speaker at the meeting was Scott J. Weiland, Ph.D, who served as a consultant for this tri-chamber merger initiative. "This has been a truly collaborative effort between all parties involved," he said during his presentation. "We are truly creating a regional voice," for this area. The moniker for this new organization will be The Chamber of the Northern Poconos. "There was a conscious effort made to be inclusive," to all of the businesses in the areas of the current chambers. "We are looking to not just attract members, but to obtain the members that we have," Weiland said. He also added that he feels this type of merger is "going to be a game changer" for the region. If all goes as planned, The Chamber of the Northern Poconos will be complete by July of this year. There is currently "no plan" according to Weiland to close any of the individual chamber offices. The combined chamber also has a goal of obtaining 800 members. That number is 100 more than the expected 700 total after the merger. Chamber member Paul Ludick, a member of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, posed questions to Weiland regarding the name and function of the proposed organization. "I have a problem with the logo and the tagline," he said. He feels that in order to attract outside visitors, the tagline of "The Heart of Commerce in Wayne-Pike, the Lake Region and Beyond" is too broad. Ludick also expressed concern with Pocono being used in the name. Wayne County Chamber President Todd Stephens said Ludick's question was an excellent one. "We think that using the name 'northern' in the name is provocative," he said. "We are trying to capture a curiosity." Stephens went on to say that including Pocono in the name is a chance "to rally behind the Pocono brand" already existing in the region. Commissioner Brian Smith also posed questions for Weiland about Pike County being included in the tagline. "What exactly is Pike County's role in this?" he said. Jim Shook, President of the Pocono Lake Region CHamber, said "around 30 percent of our members are from Pike County." Smith said that during his tour of the county as a commissioner, the northern and southern regions of the county "feel excluded." "We want to include everybody," he said. "We applaud the efforts of the chambers working together and becoming one." The vote Stephens said that all of the chambers felt that the vote to merge should come down to its members. "This is a big deal," he said. "We are passionate that the vote should go to the members." All three chambers took a separate vote of whether or not to approve the merger. The members of all three chambers were unanimous in their vote to move forward with the merger.