Published July 23, 2010
Forum editorial: A stronger tri-city chamber
West Fargo’s business community will be better served now that that city’s Chamber of Commerce is poised to merge with the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber. The entire West Fargo community will benefit from the promotional and development clout the unified chamber will have.
The vote among chamber members in West Fargo was a solid 72 percent in favor of the merger. The margin indicates West Fargo business owners understand the benefits of being part of a unified organization, even if their costs for membership will rise slightly. The trade-off is that they will be getting more for their money.
One concern among the 28 percent of members who voted “no” was a fear that the West Fargo business community would lose its identity by being part of the larger chamber. It’s an overblown worry.
First, a significant number of West Fargo businesses also are Fargo and/or Moorhead businesses. They already have, if you will, a Fargo or Moorhead identity along with a West Fargo presence. Second, most successful businesspeople in West Fargo depend on customers who couldn’t care less if the business is in West Fargo or Fargo. For the most part, those lines are meaningless when it comes to customer traffic or other business activities.
The identity issue as it relates to chamber-sponsored community events in West Fargo also is a challenge easily addressed. West Fargo’s chamber-sponsored West Fest won’t go away because the merged chamber won’t retain sponsorship. The community already is preparing to secure new in-town sponsors for the 2011 event. Moorhead is an excellent example of maintaining and actually enhancing city identity after its chamber merged with Fargo’s. The major community events in Moorhead – the
“identifiers” – have not faded. Among them are Minnesota State University Moorhead’s July Fourth celebration and the Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival.
Approval of the merger by West Fargo is an important step for the city’s integration and cooperation with its metro neighbors. It’s good news for the business sector and for the West Fargo community.