Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chamber, EDC merger looks promising, if not imminent

Posted By on Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 11:12 AM

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In today's paper, we report on merger negotiations between officials from the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. We hadn't been able to get answers to a few important questions by press time, but late Wednesday afternoon, Doug Quimby, board president of the EDC, returned our call.

He said no decision to move ahead with a merger has been made yet, but talks are continuing and could take months. Meanwhile, things that remain up in the air:

• The name of the new agency, although Quimby said there's a sense that the Chamber has name recognition that would be hard to duplicate.

• Who would serve as the new chief executive. Dave Csintyan is the CEO of the Chamber, while Mike Kazmierski was recently forced to resign from the EDC. A search is being conducted to replace him. Quimby said "there's consensus" that a national search would be needed to fill the new executive role of a combined agency. Whether someone is hired to replace Kazmierski will depend on the timetable decided upon for merging the two groups, or whether they will be merged at all.

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• Quimby predicted that should a merger happen, the annual budget for the organization will be greater than the Chamber and EDC budgets combined, because, "If it fulfills its promise and proves to be a more effective organization, it will attract more support."

• He emphasized that during the talks, the EDC continues to push ahead with working prospects.

Refusing to characterize the nature of any resistance to a merger, Quimby said, "It's important to understand that although the discussion seems to be protracted and time-consuming, it's important that we get it right at the end of the day, and sometimes that takes time."

It's clear where Quimby stands on a possible merger: "One organization with one economic development strategy and one business retention strategy and a single fundraising model and elimination of duplication of efforts would make a more effective organization."

But, he adds, "It's not the end of the world if we stay separate."

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