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Letter to our membership
Dear valued chamber members,
Thank you for your years of support, dedication, and hard work. It is truly through your efforts that our business community has flourished and evolved. I treasure my working relationship with each business owner/manager and citizen in our market and have always prided the Port Wentworth Chamber of Commerce on transparency and truthfulness. I have been receiving a lot of calls from our business community about the current contract negotiations between the city and the chamber. That is why I want to speak frankly with you today about the challenges we are facing.
Sadly, the City of Port Wentworth is considering the non-renewal of its contract with the Port Wentworth Chamber of Commerce which would eliminate the voice of the Port Wentworth business and tourism community. The contract in question provides for the partial funding of the chamber through the city’s hotel/motel tax funds to promote tourism and brand our city as an attractive and welcoming community to visit, to live, and to do business.
I was informed of the move on June 9, during a city budgeting workshop that was planned without my knowledge, despite the fact matters pertaining to the chamber were on the agenda. Up until that point, I had been led to believe the city’s annual contract negotiations with the chamber were proceeding as planned.
At the workshop, I learned that the City of Port Wentworth had solicited a chamber of commerce in another city and asked them to bid for the contract that has always gone to the Port Wentworth Chamber. While the other chamber declined to do so, that has not stopped the city from continuing to shop the contract around to other entities outside of OUR business community. According to the city administrator, the city may also be considering contracting with our organization on a month to month or quarter to quarter basis until a new entity can be established to contract with.
I feel it would be an incredible shame if Port Wentworth’s hotel/motel tax funds were to go to a chamber of commerce in another city or to a new entity with no established ties to this community. Our money should stay in our community. Furthermore, I do not believe a chamber in a neighboring city would log the necessary time and effort that it takes to properly promote and advocate for Port Wentworth’s small business owners and operators like our chamber does. Additionally, this would require all local businesses to join whatever chamber the city decides to partner with. If a business opts not to, they simply will not receive the support they deserve.
I implore you to speak out against this move by the city. Demand that our tax dollars stay in Port Wentworth to help fund our chamber's destination marketing efforts, which makes local tourism promotion and business its top priority. Tourism is a huge economic driver in this community and our organization has a proven track record of growing this sector every year. The City Council meeting tonight is scheduled to begin at 6:30pm. The information to log-on and listen is included below. Public comments is at the end of the agenda and you may sign up to speak at this time.
Regular City Council Meeting
Thu, Jun 25, 2020 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM (EDT)
Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (872) 240-3212
Access Code: 534-266-069
Please contact me with any questions or comments. As always, I am happy to hear from you.
President & CEO
Port Wentworth Chamber of Commerce
Phone: (912) 965-1999