Plans for joint chamber of commerce move ahead

Kayla Deneau, Staff Writer

The City of Plainwell and the Otsego Chamber of Commerce are moving forward with a possible area chamber following an informational meeting Tuesday, Feb. 3.

The Otsego Chamber of Commerce currently has a total membership of 107 businesses, 30 of which are in Plainwell.

The meeting was to judge public support for expanding the chamber.

Chamber director Misty Bottorff said at the meeting she explained what the chamber does for all the newer businesses in Plainwell and for businesses who came after the Plainwell chamber was dissolved.

“We asked the city what they were looking for assistance with as far as events we could help with or take over,” she said.

Plainwell Economic Devel­op­ment director Denise Siegel said the meeting was the first step in the process.

“The meeting was good and very informative,” she said. “The businesses were pleased with what Misty (Bottorff) had to say and offer businesses.”

After the meeting, surveys were sent out to current chamber members asking for their input, as well as a separate survey sent to Plainwell businesses to gauge interest.

Bottorff said current members support the expansion.

“There were few questions or concerns on the surveys returned. One said, ‘Plainwell is a great community and (name omitted) is willing to support an area chamber,’” she said.

Concerns seemed to largely surround how the expansion would affect Otsego Main Street plans. Bottorff reminded responders Main Steet is a separate entity from the Chamber of Commerce so would not be affected.

There was overwhelming sup­port from the Plainwell responses as well.

“Plainwell wants the tight-knit community involvement Otsego has and wants to create a united business trading area,” Bottorff said.

One response said, “This is in all of our best interest. There is strength in numbers.”

Bottorff explained a united business trading area involves all businesses working together to keep shoppers local and not sending them to Kalama­zoo or Grand Rapids, but to a neighboring community in­stead.

“Its a mentality of, ‘if we can’t help, they may be able to,’ and vice versa,” she said.

Siegel said of the 22 Plainwell survey responses received, only two said they did not support the chamber.

Of the two, one no longer lived in the area and the other is in an industrial park business whose customers do not reside in the area.

“They said it wouldn’t benefit them to be a member,” she said.

Both Bottorff and Siegel said the next step is to get a proposal in writing to bring before the chamber board and members at the annual chamber dinner March 31. If the proposal isn’t ready by then, a special meeting can be called to review the proposal.

For full story, pick up a copy of the Feb. 23 issue of The Union Enterprise or subscribe to the e-edition.

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