New D.B.A. – SouthCoast Chamber
New Tagline – Proudly Serving New Bedford and the Towns of the South Coast
Legal Name: New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce
The New Bedford Area Chamber has been in existence since 1885. Why re-brand now?
While the Chamber has had many names since it began to serve the business community of the South Coast, it is only in recent years that the Chamber has recognized the need for regionalism and regional strength to support the economy of New Bedford and the entire region. Our name and tagline must reflect the importance of New Bedford and all of the ten communities we serve if we are to realize this goal.
Isn’t the Chamber affiliated with the City of New Bedford?
No, the Chamber is an independent not-for-profit business, unconnected to government in any contractual or virtual sense. The Chamber receives no funding from the city and is taxed like any other business. We are the home to business leaders, many of whom have deep commitment to the success of our city, but the Chamber is an independent business like the members we serve.
Why SouthCoast Chamber and why is a tagline important?
The Chamber serves 10 communities in the South Coast region, with New Bedford as the largest. New Bedford is our traditional home, and there is no desire to change that in this process. The name reflects our service region with the tagline calling out New Bedford as the major metropolitan area while also helping define our identity outside of that great city.
Why is regionalism so important?
Each city and town we serve is important in and of itself, but as a region, we can speak with a louder voice, particularly in Washington and Boston. This region has for too long been saddled with slower economic growth than other parts of the Commonwealth, and it is crucial that the business community bands together on behalf of economic progress for our region. We are more powerful when we reflect our true self – the largest chamber in a region that must fight for great policy. We have recently joined forces with the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce to execute an initiative called the Southeastern Massachusetts Legislative Chamber Alliance in order to leverage our two memberships and have more clout on Beacon Hill. We hope to have other chambers come on board in the coming months.
59% of all New Bedford jobs are held by people who live outside the city and commute in. A similar percentage of New Bedford residents hold jobs in other parts of the region, showing both the mobility of the workforce and the interdependence of all communities on the South Coast. A growing or new business in Wareham will employ people from New Bedford, and a growing or new business in New Bedford will draw workers from throughout the region.
What does this change mean for our members?
Our members have been loyal to this organization and its goals for business growth and support since 1885. To our members, we hope to be sending a new and powerful message that we are here for them and we are here for our region. No business seeks customers only from the city or town where they live. Businesses are in the business of growth. Dartmouth businesses want New Bedford customers. New Bedford businesses want customers from Westport and Wareham. We reflect their desire for growth, and we seek to grow as well – with the knowledge that our growth helps support every member in new ways. Whether through networking, business education, addressing issues of importance as advocates or providing opportunities for a business to showcase its excellence, the Chamber’s growth is part of their growth. The economic growth of the region is part of their growth.
Are you changing your legal name?
The One SouthCoast Chamber is a D.B.A. but the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce remains our full and legal name. The Chamber also maintains a small 501.c.3 foundation called the New Bedford Area Chamber Foundation which serves to assist in community betterment. To change our legal name would require the Chamber to go back to all entities with which we have a contractual relationship and change legal documents that are currently in place. Many of our dues paying members have the name built into their bill payment systems and software and for their convenience and ours a legal change could add inconvenience.
What do you hope to gain from the change?
Like any company, we are looking to grow in part by using our name to reflect the market we serve. While New Bedford is and likely always will be where the largest concentration of our members call home, we are also looking to broaden our appeal in communities we serve less completely and who may not see themselves as satellites of New Bedford. We are working on an innovative joint membership program with the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber for businesses physically located in Wareham, a community with many businesses and that is underrepresented in either chamber. We want to work with our fellow chambers throughout Southeastern Massachusetts to advance all businesses each of us serves.