LODI — The Lodi Chamber of Commerce voted 8-7 to reduce its activity through December 2019.
The members cited declining participation from the 57-member chamber for their vote during a Thursday evening meeting at Lodi Hospital.
Two of the members in attendence abstained from the vote.
“I think this has been kind of a slow burn to this point, I have seen in the three, four years I have been involved in the chamber a decline in participation,” President Eric Lucius said during the meeting.
While the meeting was initial held to decide by member vote whether the chamber would continue or completely disband, longtime member and former board member Cecelia Sivard suggested the chamber take a step back for a year, and operate with minimal expenditure while efforts are made to strengthen the organization.
“If we disband the chamber we are giving up our bylaws, our tax information, our corporation information,” Sivard said.
“We would be giving up all of that and down the road two or three years for now, if more business come to Lodi they would have to start all over and it would be an expense and a lot of work to start all over.”
According to chamber member and administrative assistant Yvonne Sivard, yearly membership dues are $75, with the organization currently having estimated yearly expenses of $14,600. The chamber currently has $15,480.78 in its bank accounts.
Home Appliance Sales & Service owner and chamber member Beth Grayson said it might be time for the organization to take a step back, and let others in the village step up to the plate if they decide they would like an active chamber again.
“The idea is a good idea, walk away and if somebody decides gosh we really need this let somebody else say hey let’s carry the torch then it is not on your back anymore,” Grayson said.
Lucius said the organization has space for up to 12 directors, but currently has only four.
Yvonne said the organization heavily depends on the success of their two annual fundraisers, the Sweet Corn Festival and Night at the Races. Night at the Races was postponed before being canceled this year due to a lack of volunteers. The future of the festival, which is organized by the chamber was also called into question.
“Would I like to see the mayor or clerk treasurer at our meetings and here and participating more, yes,” Yvonne said. “Do they show up to block the streets for the Sweet Corn Festival, to do the fireworks for the festival, they show up for everything that week, the electrical, the water the sewer, we couldn’t do it without the village? Yes, they do support us in the way that they can without being here.”
Board member Robb Baldauf said the organization’s issues go beyond poor attendance at its monthly meetings.
“If we can’t run the events, we can’t raise the funds to pay our bills and if we can’t pay our bills we can’t continue to function,” he said.
The Lodi Area Chamber of Commerce can be contacted at (330) 948-8047 or firstname.lastname@example.org.