By Friday, February 15, Historic City News has learned that the county’s two largest business advocates could become one; if the merger that was approved by both boards today is approved by a vote of their respective memberships.
In a unanimous decision, both the St Johns County Chamber of Commerce and the Ponte Vedra Beach Chamber of Commerce voted to merge.
“We are very excited about this opportunity to join forces and have the St Johns County Chamber of Commerce become a stronger county-wide organization,” said Dan Alexander, St Johns County Chamber chairman. “All of our existing and new members will benefit from being part of a larger, unified organization.”
What began as the St Augustine Board of Trade in 1904 became the Chamber of Commerce in 1930. In 1978, the business organization incorporated as the St Augustine and St Johns County Chamber of Commerce. On November 22, 1978, the moniker was simplified and the corporation was renamed “St Johns County Chamber of Commerce”.
The next step is Friday when the members of both organizations will be asked to vote on separate resolutions approving the merger.
The Ponte Vedra Beach Chamber incorporated in 1996 and has about 300 members. If the proposed merger receives approval, the merchant and business organization will become the Ponte Vedra Beach Division of the St Johns County Chamber of Commerce.
The consolidated Chamber of Commerce will represent over 1,000 member businesses countywide. The Ponte Vedra Beach Division will continue to focus on providing services to those members in Ponte Vedra Beach.
“We feel this merger will allow us to improve our programs and services and return more value to our members,” said Felicia Cox, Chair of the Ponte Vedra Beach Chamber. “In addition, our members would have access to a broader network and additional services offered by the St Johns County Chamber. It’s a win-win.”
President Kirk Wendland said the St Johns County Chamber of Commerce has worked to increase its economic development efforts and build efficiency and value into its programming for small businesses.
“I am certain this merger will be very positive for the members of both Chambers, and we’re honored to have this opportunity to expand our operations,” Wendland said. “We look forward to growing our services in Ponte Vedra Beach and enhancing the Chamber network.”