SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 11, 2013

Beverly chamber goes regional

BY PAUL LEIGHTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — The Beverly Chamber of Commerce is ready to expand beyond its namesake city.

In a letter to members, the organization said it has changed its name to the Greater Beverly Chamber of Commerce to reflect its increasing membership from surrounding communities.

The organization plans to unveil its new logo at its Fall Gala on Sept. 19 at the Double Tree Hotel in Danvers.

“Lately our membership has been growing outside of Beverly,” Executive Director John Somes said. “This puts us in line for becoming more of a regional chamber.”

Of the chamber’s 450 members, about 60 are from Danvers and 20 from Hamilton and Wenham, Somes said.

The chamber sponsors networking events and educational seminars and helps members market their businesses, including setting up ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

“Ribbon-cuttings are a big hit,” Somes said. “We’ve had a lot of people from surrounding towns who wanted to have a ribbon-cutting.”

Robert Bradford, president of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, said he did not consider the Beverly chamber’s expansion as competition for his organization. The North Shore Chamber has more than 1,000 members from 39 communities, making it the third-largest chamber of commerce in the state.

“We’re on different missions,” Bradford said. “They’re a local chamber, we’re a regional chamber. If they expect to become a regional chamber like the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, it probably will result in some conflict, but I don’t see that happening now.”

Somes said the Beverly chamber has no plans to expand beyond the neighboring communities of Danvers, Hamilton and Wenham.

“We’re more small business-based (than the North Shore Chamber of Commerce),” he said.

Somes, who has been the executive director in Beverly for two years, said membership has grown from 350 to 450. The chamber moved its office on Cabot Street from near the Beverly-Salem bridge to Cummings Center last year, making it more centrally located for businesses in Danvers, Hamilton and Wenham, he said.

Those three communities do not have their own chamber of commerce.

“For us, it kind of makes sense because we’re that close,” Somes said. “We want to be able to service them as if they’re just down the street. A lot of people are looking for that support system.”

Hamilton Bookkeeping owner Liz Silva said she joined the Beverly chamber when she started her business 10 years ago. She has grown from a one-person business to one with five employees.

“They have so many small-business things you can attend,” she said. “If you’re starting a business, you can go and hand out your business card. Everybody’s welcoming. They were really instrumental in helping me grow.”

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.