ELKTON — The Elkton Chamber and Alliance started its process to shift from a not-for-profit to a nonprofit this week in order to better serve local commerce and residents.
Chamber officials spoke to the Mayor and Commissioners at this week’s work session meeting on Wednesday, saying that the designation shift would open funding avenues that are not offered to 501(c)(6) organizations, which is the chamber’s current status.
The change to a 501(c)(3) would eliminate membership fees, capture more grant-like funding and potentially bring in shareholders. A 501(c)(3) is a more traditional nonprofit, and donations to it are tax deductible.
“To put nuts and bolts on the table: Memberships are not going to grow our operating budget,” said Danielle Carroll, vice president of the Elkton Chamber.
“It’s not feasible to do anything with those types of dollars that are going to allow us to be an organization that can support economic development.”
The Elkton Chamber and Alliance hopes to work with the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce as a partner and expand its current development support to outside the downtown area. Currently, the organization is working with attorney Dwight Thomey and Weyrich, Cronin and Sorra to refit its bylaws and to comply with the IRS for the new designation.
“We won’t be identifying ourself as a ‘chamber’ per se,” as that name falls under the ©(6) designation,” explained Executive Director Jessica Price, “We will still be doing the same economic development things that we did in the past ... none of that will really change. It just gives us the opportunity to go broader.”
Price acknowledged the focus in the downtown area, as the Elkton Chamber was initiated to do so.
“That’s how our organization was brought to life, was to bring life into downtown,” Price said. “We feel at this point we’ve done a really good job of that and we need to start expanding outward now.”
In future Mayor and Commission workshops, the organization will develop a Memorandum of Understanding with the town to lay out expectations. The Elkton Chamber and Alliance has irons heating for economic development in the whole 8 miles of Elkton, but, before any official action, the organization wants to ensure its goals align with the town’s.
“[This] sets some real goals for us to reach and in turn gives us a conduit with the town to continue to grow the reach,” said President Brad Carrillo.
This organizational shift follows an assessment with Director and Dean of Arts, Humanities, and Commerce at Cecil College Jon Esser that identified its Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats — called a SWOT analysis.