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Joining forces

Oldham Chamber of Commerce,
OCEDA make final merger plans

Combined board will run the new agency

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (January 2010) – Since July 2008, the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce and the Oldham County Economic Development Authority (OCEDA) have been working toward a merger of the two organizations. The merger seemed like a logical move, said Deana Epperly Karem, the current Executive Director of the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce and the Interim Director of OCEDA.

Deana Epperley Karem

Deana Epperley Karem

“In the last year and a half, OCEDA and the chamber have been working together unofficially on economic development. It seemed like a natural next step,” said Karem.
Staff and board members of both entities met Dec. 18 to work out final details of the merger. That meeting followed the chamber’ effort to collect feedback from its members and from the Oldham County community to ensure they are on the right track.
“We have received several positive and enthusiastic comments from chamber members,” said Karem. “Less than five members have expressed concern. The rest of the comments have been enthusiastic.”
According to a press release sent out by the chamber, the mission of the newly combined agency will be “to promote the economic prosperity of Oldham County while preserving and enhancing its quality of life.” The chamber and OCEDA are housed together at 412 E. Main St.
At press time, a name had not been released for the new agency. All final staffing decisions will be made after the boards have completed the merger, said Karem.
The board of the new agency will be comprised of the same business leaders currently serving on the chamber and OCEDA boards, a total of 22 board members. The number is expected to diminish to the required 16 members within the first two years of existence, and members will retain the election right of board members. Three positions will be up for election annually, with two positions to be appointed by fiscal agents.
Member Services will be chaired by current chamber chair, Robin Lawson. Economic Development will be chaired by current OCEDA board chair Jim Kramer.
The “new” chamber is expected to continue its history of professional service to members. In addition, it will work with area partners to extend opportunities and develop relationships that will expand the business community and preserve quality of life in Oldham County.
The new entity will create more value for chamber member’s investment. “Membership value is in the power of networking, public advocacy, marketing opportunities, and discounts on programs, events and services,” said Karem.
The chamber will continue to host its regular quarterly dinner meetings, Showcase Oldham County, Business & Biscuits as well as other networking and educational events and activities.
Membership dues will still be required of chamber members. Membership investment will comprise more than 50 percent of the budget revenues.
Along with membership dues, “Funding will remain as it has been,” Karem said. Business investments, public funding and grants are possible future sources of funding.

• For more information, Oldham County Chamber of Commerce board chair Robin Lawson can be reached at (502) 225-9900. Deana Epperly Karem can be reached at (502) 222-1635.

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