Taylorsville officials thrilled to see West Jordan join their business support organization, ChamberWest
Feb 21, 2019 11:10AM
● By Justin Adams
The West Jordan City Council recently voted to affiliate with ChamberWest to help boost its area businesses, just as Taylorsville City has done for years. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
By Carl Fauver | firstname.lastname@example.org
A big change for West Jordan City.
A big validation for Taylorsville City.
A big coup for ChamberWest.
And a big disappointment for the West Jordan Chamber of Commerce.
All of those things occurred simultaneously, earlier this year, when the West Jordan City Council voted to break its age-old ties with their local chamber of commerce and contract for similar services with ChamberWest – something Taylorsville has been doing for decades.
“We look forward to working with ChamberWest to promote West Jordan’s business culture and a positive business environment,” Mayor Jim Riding said in a news release. “ChamberWest is well respected and knows how to work effectively and develop productive partnerships with the business community and civic and political leaders.”
Riding’s counterpart in Taylorsville could not be more thrilled.
“Having West Jordan come in with us will strengthen what is already a strong and valuable organization in ChamberWest,” Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson said. “As they get to know everything ChamberWest has to offer, the West Jordan council and mayor will quickly learn what an asset ChamberWest is. We have been with them for years and it has been a great decision. Barbara Riddle is amazing.”
Riddle – the president and CEO of ChamberWest – said her organization has been around more than 50 years, though under different names. She said they are anxious to provide the same professional service to West Jordan that they have been providing for years in Taylorsville, West Valley City and unincorporated Kearns.
“(West Jordan voting to join ChamberWest) is a validation of the strength of our organization and the programs we offer,” Riddle said. “We are working to grow our organization now, and this is a major accomplishment getting West Jordan to join. It will improve all of ChamberWest and I am confident West Jordan leaders will be happy with their decision.”
ChamberWest has only three full-time employees – Riddle, a business development director and an office manager. They also rely on dozens of volunteers from the business community to be the chairs and vice chairs of countless service committees.
“We have a board of directors, a board of governors and many committees addressing legislative affairs, education, economic development, air quality, health care and other issues,” Riddle said. “ChamberWest is also now rolling out a business sustainability program and developing a series of informational videos for social media.”
West Jordan Public Information Officer Kim Wells says it was all too much for her city council to pass on.
“ChamberWest is a regional chamber that serves 350,000 individuals and is available to serve approximately 9,000 businesses,” Wells said. “Back in August our city council decided to evaluate the services it was receiving from the West Jordan Chamber of Commerce. This led to an RFP (request for proposals) process. ChamberWest was selected, with their $10,000 service agreement saving our city $38,000 per year, over the cost of membership in the West Jordan Chamber.”
The West Jordan City Council’s decision now puts that community’s business owners on the spot. They must decide whether to jump ship to ChamberWest as well, or remain with the West Jordan Chamber, which has suddenly seen its annual income drop by $48,000 per year.
Aisza Wilde, West Jordan Chamber President and CEO said the changing nature of their relationship with West Jordan City was affecting each organization.
“[W]e had expressed some concern...about some changes [the City was] planning on making concerning utility rates and business license fees. [T]hey felt that our role should be to support them and to report to the business community why they were making these changes, rather than communicate to the city how those changes would impact the businesses.”
“Understandably, that contract was a considerable amount of money and when you pay somebody a lot of money they should do what you want them to do,” Wilde said.
According to Riddle, lots of West Jordan businesses have contacted them since West Jordan’s announcement. “We offer so many programs – along with regional representation – I am confident many of those businesses will join us as well,” she said.
Among the things Riddle said her organization provides are: a leadership institute, annual awards gala, fall business conference, annual golf tournament, emergency preparedness training, a women-in-business program and an ambassador committee that tends to new business ribbon cuttings, among other things.
Even though the money West Jordan contributed was a significant portion to the West Jordan Chamber’s budget, Wilde said they continue to find support from their members.
“We don’t see this change as something that will affect what we do, or how we operate moving forward. Just because the government decided to make a change, doesn’t mean our association will change what we’re doing.”
“Since the decision has been made, there’s a misconception that the West Jordan Chamber is going away. We’re moving forward, we feel that it’s working very well and getting great support,” Wilde said.
ChamberWest’s roots go back to 1961, when the organization began as the Granger-Hunter Chamber of Commerce. Later in that same decade the organization became the Granger-Hunter-Taylorsville Chamber of Commerce – nearly 30 years before Taylorsville actually incorporated.
“(ChamberWest) has proven to be very valuable to our large and small businesses,” Taylorsville Mayor Overson concluded. “From a selfish standpoint, I am so excited to have West Jordan join us. That can’t help but make ChamberWest stronger, as it represents all of us in matters of regional interest.”
About 300 businesses are currently members of ChamberWest, paying basic membership fees of $250 to $725.
Erin Dixon also contributed to this story.