CROWN POINT — A group of Crown Point businesses and professionals has formed its own chamber of commerce, officially splitting from the Merrillville-based Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The announcement was first made by the Crown Point Chamber of Commerce early last week when the organization created and posted its mission statement on its official Facebook Page.
“The Crown Point Chamber of Commerce’s mission statement (is) to promote civic pride, economic development, tourism, and business leadership for the betterment of the Crown Point community,” the post stated.
The split comes nearly a decade after the original Greater Crown Point and Merrillville chambers of commerce merged in January 2010 to form the Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The merger was initiated to enhance the surrounding economic climate and civic environment, as well as provide a joint membership of more than 700 business contacts for networking opportunities, according to crossroadschamber.org.
Board member Adam Graper said the new Crown Point Chamber of Commerce board will be made up of roughly 12 volunteers from different professional sectors that will help aid local businesses in need of assistance.
He said this set up is different from Crossroads’ chamber and would make it more affordable for business owners to join as chamber members.
“We wanted to look at what we could do to best help the businesses and bring everything back to the Crown Point community,” said Graper, who also works as the director of media relations and internet technology for the City of Crown Point.
“I helped the city start its Shop Local campaign a couple years ago. It seemed like a lot of people liked that,” Graper said. “Myself and a bunch of other friends who own businesses kept in touch and they said, ‘Well, why don’t you guys start a chamber again?’ It’s gotten to a point where we said, ‘Why not?’ Crown Point is big enough and has the resources to do it.”
The Crown Point Chamber of Commerce hosted a launch meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday on the east lawn of the old Lake County Courthouse. The event gave community members a chance to learn more about the nonprofit organization and meet its board of directors.
Some 45 people gathered Wednesday afternoon for a brief announcement by business owner Zachary Bryan.
Bryan, the general manager of Crown Brewing, said he and about a dozen other business representatives were launching the Crown Point Chamber of Commerce.
The new chamber plans to hold its first meeting in September, at which time a chairperson will be selected.
"My vision is to give immediate value back to local businesses," Bryan said.
Crossroads Regional Chamber responds
Sue Reed, president and CEO of the Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce, sent a statement on behalf of the Crossroads Chamber to The Times Wednesday in response to the Crown Point chamber's formation.
"The Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce supports all groups that support businesses in Crown Point, Merrillville and Winfield. In 2010 The Crown Point Chamber of Commerce merged with the Merrillville Chamber of Commerce to create a stronger organization that would give each of its members greater opportunities to network and grow their businesses," the statement said.
The Crossroads' statement listed the several new initiatives and events it has led since the merger, including a low-cost billboard advertising program, a gift card program and the popular Corn Roast, all designed to benefit the business community.
"The Chamber has also enhanced the quality of life for the residents of the city by making a financial donation to the Crown Point Community School Corp., honoring a Fireman of the Year, Policeman of the Year and an Inspiring Educator of the Year. ... Each recipient also receives a financial donation thanking them for their service to the city of Crown Point," the statement said.
"The Chamber also brought Small Business Saturday to the downtown square and the economic impact of more than $3000 in direct revenue was generated that day for Crown Point small businesses."
The Crossroads' statement did not specify how the Crown Point chamber will impact the nonprofit, but it did include a quote from Shirley Dunn, an Allstate Agent in Crown Point and a former Crown Point chamber board member, expressing disappointment with the new chamber.
"(Dunn) is disappointed to see the efforts of the original board are being undermined and is so proud of what Crossroads has accomplished for Crown Point," the statement said. "This is happening at a time when nationwide the trend is for Chambers to merge and collaborate."
Mayor David Uran said he “sees the value on both sides” with the Crossroads and Crown Point chambers of commerce, adding the city will continue to support both chambers for the benefit of Crown Point businesses and residents.
“We’re here to be good partners to the businesses in our community. We want the business owners and partners to be successful, provide a welcoming partnership and maintain themselves,” Uran told The Times.
Uran referenced the city’s recent Taste of Crown Point, which showcased more than 20 local restaurants at Bulldog Park in July.
City officials announced plans to host its event in early June, shortly after the Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce announced it would not be hosting its annual Food and Arts Festival, formerly known as the Taste of Crown Point.
“Our staff has been incredible with providing resources,” Uran said. “The Taste went over very, very well and we were happy with the numbers that showed up to participate. We will continue to provide that kind of support and resources to our Crown Point businesses.”
Graper said the Crown Point Chamber of Commerce will work hard to represent the large variety of businesses in the city, “from the Hot Dog Guy to St. Anthony's Hospital.”
“There’s been anticipation that this is coming and we’re excited to get going,” Graper said. “It’s time that we bring this back and keep the dollars in the Crown Point community.”