After 10 years, Clinton will once again have a Chamber of Commerce

Originally published in The Item, May 14, 2022 –

Jan Gottesman – The Item

After years of operating with all volunteers, Discover Clinton is getting help in promoting businesses in the area.

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce announced the establishment of a new affiliate chamber: The Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Previously, the town housed the Wachusett Chamber of Commerce, but it closed in 2012, giving birth to Discover Clinton as businesses tried to work together to promote themselves and the town.

Timothy Murray, president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, said talks began several years ago with Discover Clinton and town officials. While COVID derailed talks, they were renewed recently and a memorandum of understanding was drawn up to make the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce its seventh affiliate.

Worcester’s other affiliate Chambers are: Auburn, Wachusett Area, Blackstone Valley, Central Mass South and Webster Dudley Oxford. In addition, the Latin American Business Organization also became an affiliate, Murray said.

Lauren Crossman Nanof, who has been president of Discover Clinton, will be president of the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce.

She said former Discover Clinton member Jeff Swann made the initial introduction and Murray offered direction and guidance to potentially help create a members’ organization.

“He reached back out this past winter to restart serious talks,” she said.

Being affiliated with the Worcester chamber, Murray said, there is staff support and administrative guidance, building capacity to possibly having a dedicated staff person and maybe even a local office.

“This model partnership among our affiliate chambers enhances and expands regional capabilities and opportunities for economic development,” Murray wrote in a press release announcing the affiliation. “Likewise, it allows for the successful promotion of the entire Central MA region as a great place to conduct business and experience a high quality of life.”

But Murray wrote that no two affiliations are identical.

“Each chamber is unique to their respectable areas, the Clinton Chamber being no exception,” he wrote.

In an interview, Murray said that as part of a membership fee (the Worcester rate is $395 a year), not only would the business get full access to programs and events of the affiliate, but it would have access to the Worcester Regional Chamber events and services.

Nanof said they also offered to help with fundraising to run activities.

“It will basically be Discover Clinton, but with benefits, networking and advocacy for businesses,” Nanof said.

Chambers of Commerce provide programs and events, economic development resources, networking opportunities and business advocacy services. Programs and events provide myriad ways for members to connect and expand their business networks. As an affiliate of the WRCC, Clinton members will have access to more than 200 opportunities each year to gather at small meetings or very large events.

“It has been so hard to keep Discover Clinton as a volunteer community group going,” Nanof said. The help from the Worcester Regional Chamber will help host events. “The more the better.”

Murray said the affiliation will build on the successful programs from Discover Clinton — the Sidewalk Sale Day in August, the Halloween Walk in October and the George Bailey Awards during the holiday season — but would also include three business after hours events and an annual meeting.

“I feel as a business owner myself, networking can connect me with other business owners,” Murray said. “We would host networking and marketing opportunities and connect all businesses. So many businesses have not had that connection yet.

“We are really excited. Clinton is a unique town that recently made investments in its High Street.”

Murray made it clear how much he loved Clinton and wanted to help, Nanof said.

But not all the efforts will be in Clinton. The efforts will also help with the “ring towns” around Clinton.

“With the growth in the region, it really is a great region and we look forward to marketing and supporting it,” Murray said.

There will be a VIP invitational launch event Wednesday, May 25, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Clintons Bar & Grille, 27 High St. Nanof said there would be a pair of events within a month as they develop their mailing list for businesses, one during the day, one at night, to accommodate schedules.

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