A big merger between Berks County area economic development agencies has been approved.
Robert Firely, chairman of the board of directors of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said late this morning that the board has unanimously approved the merger of the chamber with the Greater Reading Economic Partnership and the Greater Berks Development Fund. Those boards also have approved the merger.
In a statement, Firely said the new organization will continue to be a chamber, but with expanded services.
“We are excited about this unique opportunity to create an organization that is truly customer focused in meeting the needs of our businesses and organizations from cradle to maturity,” he said.
Pamela Shupp, vice president of GREP, said such a merger has been considered for some time.
“Our organizations are all very collaborative by nature,” she said.
When Ellen Horan left as president and CEO of the chamber and Jon Scott retired as president and CEO of the partnership, it seemed like a good time to revisit the idea of merging, Shupp said.
Firely said members will benefit from increased exposure to the financing opportunities of the development fund and the attraction and expansion services of the economic partnership.
He also said board members felt that combined the three organizations would have a stronger voice in working with elected officials.
Firely said he expected the merger to take some time to work through as details are sorted and no official timetable has been set, but the organization plans to begin a national search for a CEO “very shortly.”