Greater Reading Chamber Alliance follows dues trend - 3/21/2019
Following a trend sweeping through chambers of commerce nationwide, the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance announced Thursday it is creating a tiered membership structure that will spur interest among local businesses, and financial stability for the chamber.
"It's the right direction to move," said chamber President and CEO Randy Peers during a press conference held at the chamber's headquarters at 606 Court Street.
It's the same direction that chambers in Blount County, Tenn.; Matairie, La.; Sunrise Beach, Mo.; and Angola and Bloomington, Ind., to name a few places, have all adopted a tiered dues structure in the past few years.
Traditionally, local chamber dues were based on company size. That meant that small employers paid less than large ones for exactly the same benefits.
The new structure puts the focus on benefits and creates six tiers of investment ranging from the Chairman's Circle level, with annual dues of $20,000, to the Incubator level and its investment of $500 annually.
Local Chairman's Circle members include Customers Bank, Herbein CPAS + Consultants, Penske, Brentwood Industries, RKL LLP, Wells Fargo and Met Ed – FirstEnergy Corp.
Other tiers in the new structure include the $10,000 Enricher; $5,000 influencer; $2,500 Innovator; and the $1,000 Catalyst.
"It streamlines the investment structure a little bit," Peers said, "and makes it easier to understand."
The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance is the third-largest chamber in the state behind chambers in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh based on operating costs.
It formed in April 2016 when the Greater Berks Development Fund, Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Greater Reading Economic Partnership merged into one organization.
Peers said the combined organization's role is to promote, support and advocate for its members, and he added that benefits of membership are "robust."
They range from the traditional chamber functions such as listings in membership directories and support for ribbon cuttings, to managing financing programs, helping prospective new companies find homes in Berks County and assisting small businesses.
Each level of membership under the new fee structure carries all the benefits of the lower levels.
"The key for us, long term, is to make sure that members are using these benefits because that's the best advertisement for membership retention," Peers said.
Penske, which turns 50 this year, has grown from a small business with three locations and 400 trucks, to a global company with 1,100 locations, some 36,000 employees and 300,000 vehicles. What hasn't changed, said Michael Duff, senior vice president of government relations and chief compliance officer for Green Hills-based Penske, is the company's local presence.
"It's our responsibility to make this a vibrant place and a wonderful place for all of us to live and work and raise our kids," Duff said, explaining why the company is a Chairman's Circle member.
"Our commitment to workforce development and youth education programming have made a partnership a natural fit with our participation in the GRCA's Young Leadership Conference and our participation in the CHOICES program," said Tim Romig, executive vice president at Customers Bank.
"We need very talented people to do the work that we do," said John Pagerly, chief financial officer for Herbein CPAS + Consultants. "One of the hardest things we do is to try to attract that talent.
"We're very happy the chamber is taking an active role in making it easier for us to do that," Pagerly said.