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Area Chamber opts to go it alone

Cancels U.S. Chamber membership over political ads

Alexandra McNitt. (click for larger version)
January 05, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — The Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce cancelled its membership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Dec. 22.

The decision came in response to numerous complaints from the local Chamber's board of directors about negative campaign ads supported by the U.S. Chamber last fall. Cancellation took effect immediately.

"One of our members who had been traveling brought up something that he saw while on the road at our October meeting," said Alexandra McNitt, Executive Director of the CCMS. "The member, who is a Republican, was offended and appalled by something he saw in a Republican campaign out in Colorado. He asked if anyone had seen the ad no one had. We had a full agenda for that month and had to put it on the November agenda."

According to McNitt, the group objected to the negative advertising and tone of the ad, which, "wreaked of exaggeration and desperation." The group noticed several similar campaigns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire by the national Chamber. This lead to a larger conversation by the group that begged the question, "Is this an appropriate way to be represented?" as she put it.

"By going that deep into the negative, they lost the opportunity to try to get constructive," she said. "We then looked at the consequences of leaving the Chamber and they weren't that many. Frankly, the U.S. Chamber doesn't really do a whole lot for its independent parts. The main reason that we were part of the U.S. Chamber was that we thought it was the right thing to do from a citizen's standpoint."

When contacting the Worcester and Boston Chambers, they realized that they were not alone in their recent decision. They discovered that Boston had never joined the USCC, stating, "Joining would not be a good investment."

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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