Daily News

East of the River 5 Town Chamber Becomes Independent Organization

LONGMEADOW — The East of the River 5 Town Chamber of Commerce (ERC5) officially become an independent organization last month, following the merger of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield and the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, now known as the Springfield Regional Chamber (SRC).

The leadership of the ERC5 decided that dissolving its board and sharing its financial resources with a Springfield-based organization was not in the best interest of its membership. Instead, the 24-person board voted unanimously to maintain its independence and continue as a business association serving the towns of Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Wilbraham, Hampden, and Ludlow.

“When the ERC5 board met, all options were considered. In the end, it was clear that the businesses of our member towns needed and deserved direct representation,” said Dennis Lopata, ERC5 president.

The ERC5 will continue its long-standing partnerships with the Western Mass. Economic Development Council and the newly formed SRC. For instance, the ERC5 will maintain a position on the SRC board and continue its partnership with the SRC on its three large regional events: Operation Outlook, the Beacon Hill Summit, and Super 60. Additionally, the ERC5 will hold three seats on the SRC legislative committee and offer a regional discount to its membership for those who would like to enjoy memberships with both organizations.

“Our board has worked hard to strike a balance between independence and maintaining a partnership with the Springfield Regional Chamber,” said Lopata. “Although it’s important that our membership get direct representation in their respective towns, it’s also important that we continue to support efforts at the regional level. We believe our arrangement … does just that.”

Added First Vice Chair Edward Zemba, “there has never been a more exciting time to be a part of the ERC5. This will be the first time in over 20 years that the ERC5 membership will have its own executive director. The membership will now have someone working exclusively on their behalf to ensure that they share in all of the benefits coming from the economic development taking place within our region.”

For more information, contact ERC5 Executive Director Shannon Bliven at (413) 575-7230 or visit www.erc5.com.