NEW PORT RICHEY — Two Pasco County chambers of commerce announced they are joining forces this summer.
Barring unforeseen snags, the West Pasco and Central Pasco Chambers of Commerce will officially become one July 1.
“The reason I think things are going to fall into place is because both sides want it to,” said Central Pasco Chamber of Commerce President Les Saland. “We’re not looking for the negative things, we’re looking for the positive things. That’s what makes this thing so exciting. There are so many positives in there.”
Both chamber boards voted unanimously to approve the merger earlier this month. The goal is to provide better services to chamber members, increase networking and marketing exposure, create a larger voice with local and state governments and work together to support the growth of West and Central Pasco. According to a press release issued by Saland earlier this month, the new chamber will have more than 1,000 business members.
“We’re always trying to work with our neighbors,” Saland said. “There’s plenty of business out there for everybody. One of our growth strategies was to reach out to other chambers in the area and see if there is any type of reciprocal relationships.”
The idea of merging arose somewhat recently, Saland said, as he and other Central Pasco Chamber leaders met with West Pasco Chamber counterparts.
“We started talking and came to realize that philosophically we were in line with each other and things just seemed to line up,” said Saland, who is the president of A.L. Saland Insurance Solutions, in Wesley Chapel. “We’re working toward a common goal, we’ve got all the growth in the middle part between the Suncoast (Parkway) and Little Road, and we decided why don’t we do this together rather than compete with each other.”
The two chambers continue ironing out post-merger details into this week and Saland said he doesn’t foresee anything holding the deal back. “This is a win-win-win, it really is.”
There will be structural changes to the chambers’ organization, but both offices will remain open and all current staff will be retained. The office of the West Pasco Chamber, which originally was known as the New Port Richey Chamber of Commerce, is at 5443 Main St., and the Central Pasco Chamber office is at 1930 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., Lutz.
Saland said he expects the newly formed chamber, which has yet to be named, to maintain a board of directors consisting of seven current board members from Central and West Pasco. The new board of directors will have 15 total members, including the chairman of the board.
Tentative plans call for Tim Sherrill, owner of the Pit Boss Bar-B-Q in New Port Richey, to sit as the initial chairman of the board, followed by Elayne Bassinger of Complete Chiropractic and Wellness in the second year.