Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce (BCTC), the largest town chamber in the county, has signed up to the pan-Dorset affiliation programme to give the county a more influential voice and greater strength in numbers.
The united front will help chambers fight Dorset’s corner as well as drive economic growth and support businesses. BCTC has become the ninth affiliated chamber, with each organisation retaining its independence and integrity whilst also working more closely together.
The combined chambers have nearly 2,000 members representing more than 40,000 employees.
Vincent Boni, president of DCCI, said: “This is great for Bournemouth and great for Dorset and all the other chambers. At the risk of sounding idealistic it would be simply marvellous to unite all of the various groups, town and suburb, rural and urban.
“To be able to speak to Westminster and anyone who represents a potential asset to Dorset, with a unified business voice makes us altogether stronger and more credible.
“Individuality and local focus will remain paramount and yet when the need arises it is a serious advantage to act in accord.”
BCTC president Martin Davies said: “I am delighted that two of the strongest voices for business in Dorset will be working together for the benefit of their respective members and for the wider business community.
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“This exciting development will give greater strength and weight to all of the affiliated chambers when acting together whilst at the same time preserving their individual and unique identities.”
DCCI is the only chamber in Dorset accredited by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
Through DCCI, affiliated chambers have influence in the corridors of power and access to benefits and support from the BCC.
BCC director general Dr Adam Marshall, who visited DCCI in July, said: “We are delighted that Bournemouth Chamber has joined the network in Dorset, creating an even more powerful voice in the local business community.
“By working together, business communities within our chamber network provide a strong voice for firms across the country, at a local, national, and international level.”
Affiliation also means members will be involved in the BCC’s national Quarterly Economic Survey, join DCCI’s Chamber Forum and receive its newsletter and communications. They will be able to access certain events and DCCI training at member rates.
Bournemouth’s affiliation marks a new dawn as business in Dorset prepares to face the uncertainty of Brexit and potential challenges over coming years.
Other chambers in the network include Broadstone, Dorchester, Ferndown, Poole, Shaftesbury, Swanage and District Chamber of Trade, and Weymouth and Portland.
The chamber movement is also strengthened through DCCI’s membership of the Dorset Business Alliance with the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors to tackle issues at a strategic level.
Business leaders from across Dorset joined forces for the county’s first Town Chamber Conference in Dorchester.
Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) staged the event at Kingston Maurward College as bonds continue to grow between the business groups.
DCCI, the voice of business in Dorset, welcomed speakers from the county’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Dorset Councils Partnership (DCP) at the conference.
DCCI chief executive Ian Girling said: “It was an incredibly worthwhile event which showed the strength of the chamber movement and business across the whole of Dorset.
“We had some positive discussions, shared information and explored ways we could continue to work together for the benefit of the local economy and the community.
“As chambers we are stronger together, and working more closely in this way gives us a more influential voice locally, regionally and nationally.”
Chambers at the conference included Bournemouth, Bridport, Broadstone, Dorchester, Ferndown, Lyme Regis, Poole, Swanage, Verwood and Weymouth and Portland.
DCP chief executive Matt Prosser and strategic director Martin Hamilton outlined challenges and plans for the local economy.
LEP interim director Rob Dunford set out the organisation’s achievements and set out strategies for driving further investment in Dorset.
Other speakers included Donna Wilson from sponsors A-One Insurance Group, which includes PJ Aiken, and DCCI president Vincent Boni.
Mr Boni said: “The role of chambers is vitally important in pulling together the business community, giving them coherence and scale.
“Without chambers there is no voice for the business community and it was great to see the support for all business networks at the conference.”
DCCI, which is Dorset’s leading business support organisation, invited all county chambers to the conference, including those who are members of its affiliation programme.
It is the only chamber in the county accredited to the British Chambers of Commerce, which offers DCCI and local chambers influence in the corridors of power at Westminster.
DCCI has also formed the Dorset Business Alliance with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) to tackle issues at a strategic level.
Visit www.dcci.co.uk for more about joining a chamber of commerce.