“We will be stronger together:” Clinton business groups to merge

CLINTON, Iowa — Three Clinton economic and business advocate groups will merge soon into one organization.

“We will be stronger together,” said Andy Sokolovich, vice president of economic development for the Clinton Regional Development Corp. (CRDC) and a member of the groups’ merger committee. “This is something I have been passionate about.”

The three groups – the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, Clinton Convention & Visitors Bureau and the CRDC – are expected to merge into one yet-to-be-named organization.

Mr. Sokolovich added that the merger could be complete in January. 

The new group’s name has not been decided, but a leading contender is the Greater Clinton Partnership for Growth.

In addition to deciding a name, there are numerous big and small jobs that need to get done before the merger is finalized. Mr. Sokolovich said some of the jobs include working on a combined budget, consulting with a CPA and communicating with Clinton business leaders about the merger. So far, the business community is supporting the change, he added.

“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback from the community,” said Mr. Sokolovich.

The CRDC vice president added that merging the three groups has been discussed for many years. But the merger plan started to develop and quickly move forward in the past 12 to 18 months. The merger team has been working on drafting a business plan and by-laws for the new group, and will help select a new CEO for the group.

“We’re very excited about this merger,” said Lesley Webster, the tourism bureau’s director. “I think it will help us work together seamlessly.”

Ms. Webster said the three groups met in November to make plans for the upcoming merger. “I’m a very collaborative person… This will be good for the community,” she added.

Rich Phelan of the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce declined to comment on the issue, referring questions to Mr. Sokolovich.

The merger is being done to better help businesses in the community during these changing economic times, and to eliminate mission redundancies that may currently exist between the three groups, added Mr. Sokolovich.

A merged organization will enable increased focus on key business priorities in the community such as business retention, expansion and workforce development, according to an email sent to business leaders from the three organizations.

“A merged organization will provide a coordinated, flexible approach to meet changing priorities… The combined organization moves the… Clinton region towards a more efficient and effective approach to maintaining momentum and growing our economy,” an information sheet said.

The document said the new organization will focus on:

  • Workforce development
  • Retention of businesses in the community
  • Attracting new businesses
  • Organizing and promoting events that bring visitors to the area.

Once the merger is complete, the new group’s office space is expected to remain in downtown Clinton. The three current groups already share office space at 721 S. Second St. Mr. Sokolovich said he does not expect any current staff positions to be eliminated by the merger.

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