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Groton Business Association, Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce merge

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The Groton Business Association, an affiliate of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, last week announced that it has merged with the chamber.

This means it will go from being a working committee under the umbrella of the chamber to a standing committee, while retaining its logo. But have no fear: The Fall Festival, Holiday Lights Parade and Business Update Breakfast aren't going anywhere.

The GBA has been an all-volunteer organization, and the "symptoms" that brought about the merger came from the organization "basically burning through its talent pool of volunteers," said Al Valente, chairman of the chamber's board of directors and former chairman of the GBA. "A lot of people volunteer, put a lot of time in, they were just kind of spent, and we were unable to refresh the volunteer pool with fresh talent."

A draft 2018 memorandum of understanding between the chamber and GBA lays out the terms that the chamber executive board will appoint a GBA chairperson, who will then form a committee of three to seven members to work with chamber staff on plans.

The committee, which will include a chamber staff representative, will meet monthly at the chamber office. Valente is hopeful the steering committee will be formed within a month.

The MOU also stipulates that any previously designated GBA funds will specifically be used for events and programs that benefit chamber members located in Groton.

GBA meetings may be held less frequently, perhaps every other month or quarterly, according to chamber President Peggy Roberts. She noted that quarterly meetings on business issues may occur between those GBA meetings.

"With professional staff available, there has to be funding to keep professionals on board, so they may have to revisit free meetings," Valente said. The MOU states that GBA networking events will have a fee commensurate with Business After Hours fees.

Roberts said the chamber has always provided administrative support for the GBA and managed its bank account, so the merger is the next logical step.

Valente commented, "I believe it strengthens both sides, with the GBA getting professional resources, and the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce gains that history, those contacts, the beautiful relationships GBA's had working with the town."

He added that it's not like the chamber just acquired the GBA to get a foothold in Groton, pointing to the Groton representation on the chamber's board.

Its vice-chairman is Rex Buettgenbach of Thames Valley Communications, based in the City of Groton. Directors include Chris Regan, owner of the Groton Shopping Plaza; Angela McGuirk, Groton branch manager for Navy Federal Credit Union; and Paige Bronk, manager of economic and community development for the Town of Groton.

e.moser@theday.com

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