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Merged Allegheny Valley, Armstrong, StrongLand chambers to take name Alle Kiski Strong Chamber

| Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 12:46 a.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
In his offices at Amato Financial Services in Leechburg, Frank Amato, Jr., board chairman for the newly-formed Alle-Kiski Strong Chamber, talks about his plans for the new group after the merger of three area chambers of commerce on Tuesday, August 20, 2013..
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Frank Amato, Jr., board chairman for the newly-formed Alle-Kiski Strong Chamber, talks about his plans for the new group after the merger of three area chambers on Tuesday, August 20, 2013..

When the Allegheny Valley, Armstrong and StrongLand chambers of commerce agreed to merge into a single regional entity, the organization wanted a name to reflect its increased geographic scope and influence.

The regional chamber released that name on Monday, announcing that it will be known henceforth as the Alle Kiski Strong Chamber.

With more than 770 projected members across an area that encompasses Armstrong County and most of Allegheny, Butler and Westmoreland counties, the “Strong” part of the nomenclature might prove apropos.

Frank Amato Jr., the chamber's recently elected chairman, said the regionalization will afford businesses more opportunities to network and amass clientele across a broader area. Its larger membership also will provide the regional chamber additional leverage to lobby local, state and federal lawmakers.

“Everyone is really excited about what the merger means for the businesses,” Amato said. “It provides flexibility to move things around and broaden our horizons with access to new events in different markets.”

Amato, a financial adviser with Amato Financial Services in Leechburg, anticipates the chamber to be fully operational by year's end, pending IRS approval of its 501(c)(6) tax-exempt status. The 15-member board, which was elected last month and is equally representational of the three pre-existing chambers, has sought legal counsel to ensure that status is granted by Jan. 1.

In the meantime, the board's been busy as the Allegheny Valley, Armstrong and StrongLand chambers adjust to the merger.

Alle Kiski Strong Chamber Secretary Chad McCutcheon said the group on Monday invited students from each high school, technical school and post-secondary institution in its area to participate in the chamber's logo design contest. Participating artists will have until Sept. 27 to design the regional chamber's official emblem.

Information detailing the chamber's criteria and guidelines for the logo was given to participating schools, but McCutcheon said the group wants the image to center on the Allegheny and Kiski rivers — the most prominent features shared by the old chambers' geography.

“It's going to be great for the chamber and the students,” McCutcheon said. “It will be a solid résumé booster for the winner, and it's going to give them some real world graphic design experience.”

The contest winner will get a $100 Visa gift card and a certificate of appreciation. McCutcheon said the winner must be willing to revise the image to fully encompass the organization's geographic scope under regionalization.

Since the StrongLand chamber's steering committee pitched the merger almost two years ago, the three chambers have opened their local events to one another's members as a precursor to the regional chamber's official launch.

The chambers have shared several events and forums across the Alle-Kiski Valley featuring prominent speakers and government officials, including U.S. Reps. Mike Doyle, D-Forrest Hills, and Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley. The group will continue that trend through September as it invites state representatives to hear how existing legislation affects their businesses and how those issues should be addressed, said Curt Marino, Alle Kiski Strong Chamber vice chairman.

“A big part of what we're doing is making sure that we're staying in front of the legislating government officials who determine the climate in which we do business,” he said. “We have a much greater base now, and we're going to continue working around our footprint to ensure all 700-plus members can benefit from the great things we're doing here.”

The Alle Kiski Strong Chamber members said they hope to organize a large-scale inaugural event in January that will embody the chamber's mission and identity. Amato, who previously sat on the StrongLand chamber board, said the group's unsure what that will entail but hopes it entices its members to recognize the benefits of membership.

“As chairman, it's my responsibility to live up to what we're trying to accomplish,” he said. “I think our members are going to see early on how we all will benefit greatly from the consolidation.”

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at (724) 226-4673 or

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