Pushing Portland | Chamber undertakes membership drive
Port Antonio, Portland:
Daney Ann Thomas, the president of the Portland Chamber of Commerce, wants commercial operators in the parish to come on board and partner with the chamber in an effort to boost their businesses and renew consumer confidence.
Thomas, who was responding to questions from The Gleaner, was quick to point out that the chamber's efforts are being hampered by the perception among business operators and other residents that it is irrelevant.
Despite having 450 registered businesses on its books, the only requirement to be a member in good standing is that operators are paid up by complying with a nominal annual subscription fee.
The chamber boss thinks is not enough.
"It is a ridiculously low fee for one to comply with as a paid-up member," said Thomas.
"Getting the average Portland business person to make that kind of investment with the chamber is near impossible. And, therefore, we now have to sell incentives. We are going to be offering an amnesty on the ninth of February, wherein if you are behind in your payments, we will wipe the slate clean as we do need this type of participation. We are struggling now to stay afloat, not only as an organisation that offers good services, but also as an organisation that is a part of the parish's history."
The current annual fee structure reads: individual membership fee - $3,000, small business fee - $5,000, and cooperate fee - $12,000 annually. There is also an enterprise membership fee package of $24,000, which has never been accessed.
... Local renaissance making parish body more popular
A renaissance is now happening in Portland,which has resulted in the local chamber of commerce becoming increasingly popular, believes Daney Ann Thomas, president of that body.
Thomas told The Gleaner that the closure of the Jamaica Tourist Board office and the absence of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) in Portland had affected morale, as the Chamber had been left to struggle alone.
"The Chamber turns 50 this year and we have no intention of becoming dissolved. We continue to assist businesses with marketing, despite operating with what we call 'imaginary money'," said Thomas. "A lot of businesses have flourished and have tripled their sales and profit based on our involvement. But, despite our assistance in getting them to flourish, some have refused to come on-board with us as members. We have a lot of bragging rights and our record of success is evident."