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Regional chamber seeks to regain financial health

February 19, 2014 News Extra

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CRANBERRY TWP — Coming off a year of major transition, the Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber has hard work ahead to get back on track.

However, the organization’s leaders are optimistic for a turnaround.

Jim Boltz, the 2014 board chairman, on Tuesday evening addressed about 140 members with a frank message about the organization’s finances during the annual meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn.

The chamber with 1,000 to 1,100 members in 2013 brought in a new leader — president and CEO Rebecca Martin — changed its name and rebranded.

The organization also hired a new staff and revised its mission and vision statements to take more of a regional approach in promoting business growth.

“The transition did not go as smoothly as we had planned,” Boltz said. “Consequently, our financial performance suffered.”

Boltz said preliminary numbers for the 2013 fiscal year, which ended Dec. 31, show a loss of about $83,000.

He attributed that to three key factors:

• Advertising revenue was $30,000 less than expected;

• Event income was $20,000 less than expected;

• Membership dues that were expected to produce $248,000 came in $48,000 under budget.

But, Boltz said, “We had the financial strength to weather this storm,”

He said cash reserves for the chamber and its foundation combined are more than $124,000, and the organization has about $500,000 in the equity of its main office in Wexford.

“We are determined not to let it happen again,” he said.

It already has started to address that through increased promotional options.

Sponsorships will remain key to the chamber’s finances, and it has partnered with accounting firm BookSmarts to continually monitor performance.

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