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Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce to return

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

After a nearly two-year hiatus, the Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce is set to return.

Organizers of the chamber say their focus will shift from event planning to professional development, and they will work with Village Green Partners.

Under a redefined structure, there will be no membership dues, board member Doug Florey said.

Instead, all businesses and nonprofit groups within the area will be considered chamber members, he said.

“We didn't think it made a lot of sense to be a dues collector when Village Green is out there rounding up partners,” he said.

The changes mark a step in the right direction for the chamber, Florey said.

“Historically, the chamber struggled in that we didn't have any paid staff,” he said. “All of the work that had to get done was being done by business owners or nonprofit directors. We always were at a disadvantage.”

Under the new arrangement with Village Green — a nonprofit group that focuses on marketing the business district with the use of public and private money — the chamber can focus on “bringing outsiders into 15143, whether that's business owners, shoppers or investors,” Florey said.

“The chamber can concentrate more on professional development.”

The group plans to send information later this month to members and expects to hold its first professional-development session June 14.

Sewickley Mayor Brian Jeffe praised the initiatives of the chamber and Village Green.

“By engaging all local business, we hope to create and promote an atmosphere where merchants are reignited and reenergized in practical business methods that supports positive change throughout the Sewickley business district,” Jeffe said.

Village Green co-founder Jennifer Markus, who along with Kirsten Recker began the group in 2011 and oversees events such as Light Up Night, said through monthly events, business owners have the opportunity to “get to know other merchants, as well as learn about new initiatives, voice concerns and share information.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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