Saturday, February 23, 2002

Chamber ready, ready or not

Not all in Warren cheer quiet move

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — After years of talk about creating a Warren County Chamber of Commerce, the Mason Landen Kings chamber quietly went out and did it this month.

        “We see that there needs to be one unified voice coming from Warren County, and that's not happening now,” chamber president John Harris said Friday.

        His group reserved the name “Warren County Chamber of Commerce” with the Ohio Secretary of State's Office on Feb. 5.

        It's not clear, however, whether the six other chambers operating here — in Lebanon, Loveland, Morrow, Waynesville, Springboro and Franklin — want to join.

        The MLK chamber told the others of the move Feb. 15 and invited them to help shape the new organization, Mr. Harris said. Among the questions not yet resolved is whether MLK will change its name to the Warren County Chamber or the names will coexist.

        Lebanon chamber director Wilma Grace, whom the others have appointed their spokeswoman, said Friday they will have no comment until after they notify their members of the situation.

        Word is, however, that the Mason Landen Kings chamber's move has not gotten a warm reception around the county.-

        Somebody needed to take action, Mr. Harris said in defense, and no one else had done so in the three years since MLK began lobbying for a countywide chamber.

        “We're not trying to be bullies at all to anybody,” he said. “We want to help the chambers in Warren County succeed.”

        A county chamber could help the local chambers retain and attract companies and offer health insurance to the groups' 2,000 chamber members, Mr. Harris said.

        Karen Garrett, county director of economic development, said she doesn't think local chambers and governments need a county chamber.

        “I don't know what they would do that wouldn't be a duplication,” Ms. Garrett said.


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