The Maryland Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday introduced a new membership model designed to maximize the influence of small businesses within the organization – and in state politics.
Under the terms of a new model the business group is calling the Maryland Chamber Federation, any business with 10 or fewer full-time employees that is a current paid member of a participating local chamber of commerce will receive free federation membership with the Maryland Chamber.
State chamber officials believe the new model will increase the organization’s clout in the State House.
“Not only are small businesses a key constituency of our grassroots advocacy efforts, Maryland’s overall success in the national and global marketplace is directly tied to the state’s ability to foster a climate that is competitive and favorable to small business,” said Christine Ross, president & CEO of the Maryland Chamber.
The state chamber timed the announcement to coincide with its annual “Meet the State” lobbying day in Annapolis. Dozens of chamber members from across the state are in the capital, meeting with lawmakers and attending hearings.
Chamber leaders point out that almost 92 percent of Maryland’s registered companies are considered small businesses. Already, 14 local chambers of commerce have signed partnership agreements with the state organizing, enabling them – and their small business members – to participate. They are:
- Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce
- Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce
- Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce
- Calvert County Chamber of Commerce
- Carroll County Chamber of Commerce
- Central Maryland Chamber of Commerce
- Dorchester Chamber of Commerce
- Frederick County Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce
- Harford County Chamber of Commerce
- Howard County Chamber of Commerce
- Rockville Chamber of Commerce
- Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce
- St. Mary’s County Chamber of Commerce
Leonardo McClarty, president & CEO of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, praised the state chamber’s new model, saying it “allows us to continue to add value for [members] by enhancing our small business voice at no additional cost.”