The Board of the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County has officially recommended that the organization form an affiliation with the Capital Region Chamber, and will hold put the proposal to a vote by its members in October.
The two organizations first announced in April that they were exploring the possibility of a merger.
The Capital Region Chamber, the largest chamber in the area, was formed as an umbrella organization in spring 2015 by the memberships of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber and the Chamber of Schenectady County to be a unifying force for regional business interests and to provide broad-based member services across the four-county area.
The Albany-Colonie and Schenectady chambers affiliated and continue to provide local advocacy and locally focused programs.
The Clifton Park-based CSSC works with businesses spanning the southern portion of the county.
Under an affiliation, CSSC would retain autonomy and still be able to host locally based events, as it does now. However, an affiliation also would let SSCC participate in and host larger regional programs.
After the proposal was announced in April, the two entities formed a task force to explore a possible affiliation and gauge member interest in such a move.
On Thursday, Matt Grattan, chair of CSSC, explained that the task force had been successful. Through various meetings with different chamber members that involved figuring out the different needs of each member, and providing them with information about the possible affiliation, the task force eventually garnered enough feedback to make the positive recommendation.
"That went very well and culminated in the recommendation that we were going to bring to our boards of moving ahead to approve the affiliation," he said.
The Capital Region Chamber does not need to hold a vote on the affiliation. The CSSC will need to secure a majority vote from its members for the affiliation to be approved, Grattan said.
While explaining the affiliation to members, Grattan said, one of the concerns the task force heard the most from members was a wariness of what they interpreted to be a merger, and what the group's organizational structure would be going forward. Once it was explained that the affiliation was different from a merger, and that CSSC would maintain its independence, Grattan said, members generally got on board with the idea.
"It allows us to be local when we need to be local, and regional when we need to be regional," he said. "What we want to make very clear to our members is that we're doing this for our members." Grattan said. "We're not doing this as a cost-saving measure, we're not doing this for any other reason other than we think it's going to provide a significant enhancement to the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County."
Richard Sleasman, chair of the Capital Region Chamber, explained that if the proposal is voted forward, template for the affiliation is largely already in place due to his organization's previous work with the Albany-Colonie and Schenectady Chambers.
This would allow the two groups to dive right into navigating more technical aspects of the affiliaition, he said, including staffing moves or other transitions.
"Many of us do business throughout the Capital Region," Sleasman said of CSSC. "It became a pretty positive, natural conversation from the very beginning that the affiliation would give them access to wider opportunities. Once the vote is taken, the rest of the process will flow naturally."
An in-person vote on the affiliation will be held by CSSC on Oct. 10. Alternately, until around midday Oct. 10, members can instead vote by using a proxy authorization form and sending it to the organization.