The president of the Coral Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce admits with a laugh that the chamber didn’t do anything special to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its incorporation in 2017. But Cindy Brief notes that something special did happen—a partnership that unites two cities.
In August, the chamber announced that it had integrated with the Coconut Creek Chamber of Commerce, giving members of both chambers more opportunities for networking and growth.
The integration had been in talks since 2016, when Connie Carberg, secretary of the Coconut Creek chamber (she joined in 2004 to represent Al Hendrickson Toyota), approached Brief about integrating their organizations. The volunteer-run Creek chamber, while dedicated, was having difficulty providing value to members.
“We couldn’t continue to grow and offer programs that you really need to do in a chamber,” says Carberg, who handles public relations at Al Hendrickson, where she’s worked since 2001. “We couldn’t [have regular events] because we didn’t have an office and paid staff to do administrative stuff.”
The negotiations took about a year, as both Brief and Carberg wanted to make sure that members were pleased with the results.
“The key was not to be swallowed up in any way but to make sure that Coconut Creek kept its own identity,” Carberg says. “That was a very big point.”
The Coconut Creek chamber is now known as the Coconut Creek Chamber Council. The Coral Springs chamber handles the Chamber Council’s financial and administrative needs, but the Creek chamber has its own board of governors and representation on the Coral Springs’ chamber’s board of directors. Brief says this synergy adds value to members by giving them a larger network.
“Joining with Coconut Creek gives us greater strength and influence as the voice of northwest Broward,” Brief says. “You’re getting the opportunity to expand your contacts, grow your network, educate your employees, get involved in the community, [and have] low-cost advertising opportunities.”
This synergy already benefits members; Brief says membership in the Creek council has doubled. The larger network was apparent during the first post-integration networking event in October at Ciao Cucina & Bar in Coconut Creek, which drew more than 90 attendees.
“People were thrilled because there are so many new people to network with, to be able to get new business with, and to form friendships with,” says Carberg, now the chairman of the Creek Chamber Council.
This year, members can look forward to six events in Coconut Creek as well as a Creek referral group. In addition, the chamber’s annual gala in April will honor a Creek small business leader of the year.
“We’re going to expand so much. It’s a win-win for both cities,” Carberg says. “It doesn’t matter if your small, large, working out of home—whatever your business may be, it’s there to represent you.”
For information about joining the chamber, visit cschamber.com.
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