Friday, August 17, 2018
Business

Chamber merger nixed, but not new identity for Trinity business group

ODESSA — The former Trinity Odessa Chamber of Commerce has changed its identity, signaling a rebranding of its market and an end, at least for the time being, to a proposed merger with its counterpart in central Pasco.

The Trinity chamber, which began less than three years ago, rechristened itself as the Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce earlier this month, according to its state incorporation documents.

The name and website address had been reserved in anticipation of combining with the Central Pasco Chamber of Commerce. The chambers announced in May they were considering a merger and set up a task force to explore the logistics and to conduct due diligence.

The recommendation, at least for now, is to remain separate entities. Among the sticking points was a question over the number of directors who would govern the combined chamber. The Trinity group sought a smaller board, while the Central Pasco chamber members advocated for a larger organization, particularly since so many of its voting board members also are active volunteers.

Despite the difference over governance, Michael Cox, a founding director of the Trinity Odessa chamber, predicted the two groups would merge eventually. It's a sentiment shared by Terri Dusek, president of the Central Pasco chamber.

''There was no yelling or bad feelings. Nothing like that,'' said Dusek. "We both felt like we need to go back and regroup and come back at another point.''

In the meantime, however, the Trinity group moved forward with its own name change, triggered in part by moving its office from the West Pasco Industrial Park in Odessa to Northpointe Village, which has a Lutz address.

"Our view when we started was we were going to focus on Trinity and Odessa, and we found we were getting members from all over the county,'' said Cox. "And it dovetails with the county's Gateway Corridor (along State Roads 54 and 56). This whole corridor, there really is not an over-arching identity. (The name change to Greater Pasco) just seemed like it fit this area a little better.''

Dusek acknowledged the Central Pasco chamber was disappointed that the Trinity group took the Greater Pasco name that both chambers had agreed upon for the combined organization.

"It will cause confusion,'' she said.

The Central Pasco Chamber of Commerce began 42 years ago as the Land O'Lakes Chamber of Commerce, but changed its name in 1998 to better represent the region it served. That name change followed the formation of the separate Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce, which has grown to 500 members and merged two years ago with the New Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

Currently, the Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce has 386 members. The Central Pasco Chamber has approximately 400 members, and, since the merger talks are off, the group is now moving to fill its vacant executive director's position.

"We do hope we will get back together and work it out it,'' said Dusek. "It would be beneficial to both chambers.''

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