The Anne Arundel Trade Council and the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce merged yesterday to become one of the largest business networking groups in the state, which they hope will give them additional legislative influence.
The new Annapolis and Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce has a membership of 1,300, which makes it the same size as the Maryland and Harford County chambers of commerce. The three groups are the biggest of the 64 chambers in Maryland, said Joan Hatfield of the state group.
"This new chamber will unite the voice of the business community on issues of importance," said Bob Burdon, a former executive director of the Trade Council who is president and chief executive officer of the new group.
"With the resources that would come about from these two organizations, we will be able to deliver a much higher level of service."
Burdon said leaders of both groups had been talking about joining forces for several years. Larry Ulvila, president of the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce, said it made sense (( for the groups to unite because many county business people belonged to both.
"It eliminates redundancy in services that are provided," said Ulvila, who now will be a member of the group's board of directors. "For example, contact breakfasts or business after-hours meetings with the various representatives of our county, city and state government -- all of those things will no longer be duplicated. There will be one instead of two."
The Annapolis group moved into the Trade Council's Severna Park office Dec. 11, and leaders of both groups signed the merger papers yesterday afternoon.
Burdon said he hopes the new group will have more influence clout in lobbying politicians on business-related issues.
The groups have had success in the past when they joined forces, he said.
"On the state level, when a bill to lower tax on resale of boats was going through the House, we worked together to lobby our " county legislation on the issue, and it passed," Burdon said.
"This new chamber will be a strong voice for the business community."
The group will have an annual budget of about $800,000.
The two groups began as one organization in 1917. In 1951, the Trade Council broke off from the group.
"Up until the early 1950s, the bulk of the businesses and the population resided in and around Annapolis," Burdon said.
"As the county started growing, they thought it would be best that they developed a division that worked on county issues."
George Moran, president of Severna Park-based Moran Insurance, who will be co-chairman of the group, said yesterday, "Here we are, 50 years later, and we're coming back full circle."
Pub Date: 12/18/98