A TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce member said he hopes his new free membership in the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry will give small business a bigger voice throughout Pennsylvania.
'It's tremendously important for the voice of small businesses to be heard,' said Bill Wellen, owner of Fastsigns in Pottstown.
A new cooperative program with the TriCounty Area Chamber gives more than 200 of its small business members, free membership to the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.
'This membership partner program is a valuable access to benefits for our small business members,' said Eileen Dautrich, TriCounty chamber president, in a press release.
Under the Local Chamber Cooperative Program, local chamber member businesses with 10 employees or less, will receive free membership to the state chamber. Dautrich said the program will allow small business to be involved on a 'bigger, statewide level.' The state membership will give these businesses a new resource, she said.
Wellen said the TriCounty chamber announced the program to members earlier this month and that he couldn't be happier about it. He said members are still learning the details of the program but he hopes it will give small businesses a chance to express their opinion on a bigger scale.
'It's been a hard economic recovery for small businesses,' Wellen said.
He also said he would like the new program to allow more interaction with officeholders.
'I want them to build a way for us to get in front of the elective officials and the bureaucrats,' he added.
Dautrich said bigger businesses have employees responsible solely for advocacy but small businesses have to do it all. She said this program will be a timesaver for local small businesses.
The program was designed and implemented by the state Chamber of Business and Industry.
Jeffrey Albright, director of membership for the state chamber, said the cooperative program was launched at the end of 2013, and will eventually be included in all local chambers of Pennsylvania.
'We were looking for something to strengthen the relationship between the local chamber and the state programs,' Albright said in reference to why the program was established.
He said the program currently includes 12 local chambers with more than 4,000 participants. He also said the chambers are being added to the program by geographical area. Albright said the goal is to build a grass roots community network and give a voice to small businesses.
'The small business truly, really is the backbone of the local chambers,' he said.
He also said the cooperative program is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania. Albright said local chamber members have several of the benefits the state chamber members enjoy.
The membership includes a newsletter about pending legislation impacting small businesses and discounted pricing on educational and compliance programs, according to a press release. Albright added that local chamber members won't have participation in work groups and some engagement groups with this new program.
Dautrich said the new program 'is an obvious win-win opportunity for the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Chamber and that large portion of our membership are able to benefit from this program.'