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Archive for Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Chamber launches membership drive

Lawrence leaders aim to bolster representation of businesses

October 19, 2004

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In hopes of boosting their ranks by 20 percent, Lawrence Chamber of Commerce officials today will begin their first membership drive in five years.

About 100 chamber members will gather today and Wednesday in the former Reuter Organ Co. building in downtown Lawrence to call on businesses across the area. Chamber leaders hope to add 300 new members to the 1,450-member organization.

"Our membership has hovered around the current level for quite a few years, but the community has been on a pretty good growth curve during that time," said Lavern Squier, president of the chamber. "What that says is we have staunch supporters, but we have new people in the community who maybe aren't as aware of what we can do. We need to take it to the next level in terms of raising the awareness."

Chamber leaders are asking members to call on friends and business associates who are not chamber members.

"It is a good way for us to reach out to people who we may not be able to normally talk to," said Cathy Lewis, vice president of membership for the chamber.

Squier said it was important for the chamber to become more aggressive in attracting new members. The organization, which includes the city's economic development department, the convention and visitors bureau, Leadership Lawrence program and traditional chamber services, has an annual operating budget of about $1 million.

The nonprofit group's finances are in good health, Squier said, but it needs to make sure its membership represents the entire business community.

A larger membership base also could allow the organization to increase the number of services, such as seminars and networking events, the chamber offers.

Officials said they didn't have an estimate of how much new revenue 300 members would produce for the chamber.

Chamber memberships vary in price depending on the size of the company joining. Squier said a basic membership was about $300.

Area business owners or managers who are not contacted as part of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's membership drive, can call the chamber at 865-4411 for more information.

The chamber has hired a Texas-based consulting company, Your Chamber Connection, to organize the membership drive.

The chamber expects to release Thursday the number of new members the drive garnered.

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