ST. JOSEPH — Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce and Greater Bridgman Chamber & Growth Alliance (CGA) agreed to an affiliation agreement Thursday, integrating both organizations into one.

The agreement comes after Cornerstone Chamber agreed to help the Greater Bridgman CGA with administrative and member support after the departure of its executive director earlier this year.

Cornerstone Chamber President Chris Heugel said this move is something that has become a common move across the country.

“If you look across the country more and more chambers are coming together and regionalizing,” Heugel said. “With the opportunity that became available for us to help the Greater Bridgman CGA and their members on an interim basis, it just made sense that we’d come together as one.”

Regional-based chambers allow for a larger coverage area and member base to be formed, Heugel said.

Greater Bridgman will keep its 501(c)3 status and full board status as part of the agreement. Cornerstone Chamber Staff Member Sarah Spoonholtz said a Cornerstone representative will join Greater Bridgman’s board.

While the agreement was announced Thursday, the target date for these changes to take effect is Jan. 1.

Greater Bridgman CGA Board Chair Georgia Gipson said after working with Cornerstone for the last five months, they knew it was a good decision to combine resources.

“The affiliation creates an over 800-member chamber that will continue to focus on visibility, networking, advocacy and legislative and government affairs to best assist local businesses, ultimately providing a voice for them in multiple areas,” Gipson said in a news release.

The affiliation comes at the same time as Cornerstone Chamber announced that Susan Solon agreed to join the organization as member services director. Solon, who retired from the city of St. Joseph after 22 years, will join the staff in a full-time capacity on Nov. 5.

Spoonholtz will move from an administrative role to become an events and marketing director. She will also continue as the primary contact for the Greater Bridgman CGA’s members.

The Greater Bridgman CGA is a 501(c)3 organization that was created with the 2014 merger of the Greater Bridgman Area Chamber of Commerce and the Bridgman-Lake Township Economic Growth Alliance.

Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)6 member-driven organization that focuses on growth of business through networking, advocacy and visibility.

The Cornerstone Chamber represents 700 businesses that provide 36,000 jobs in the community.

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