We've seen some interesting developments as recent elections brought in new leadership. For example, both the city and county have taken a close look at the KTSC and are now shopping that function around to see if there are better ideas. As a result, the KTSC made dramatic leadership changes and today announced they are changing their name to better reflect what they should have been doing. The threat of competition seems to have gotten their attention.
Should the new leadership take a similar look at the Chamber? Are taxpayers (and members and donors) getting an acceptable return on their investment? Is there a better way?
What if there were a different type of chamber organization that operated on a less partisan, more progressive and cost-effective (and measurable) approach that was focused more on jobs and less on protecting the special interests of the wealthy powers that be?
There are apparently rumblings in the business community that it might be time to consider a different approach. But how would it work? Who would organize it? Who would fund it? Is it even possible, or are the powers that be too politically entrenched?
We mentioned yesterday a couple of recent stories regarding the Chamber. The first was about inquiries into the Knoxville Chamber's spending on advocacy for (or against) policy issues, and whether any taxpayer money was involved. The second story, an apparent response to the first, was about the Chamber setting up a PAC to keep private and public funds separate.
Should the Chamber be involved in political activism? They say yes, it is their "inherent responsibility to take positions for or against any policy" that they feel would be "onerous to the business community and to the growth of the area." What if they take it a step further, and support (or oppose) candidates for office using their new PAC?
Shouldn't their "inherent responsibility" be jobs, jobs and more jobs, recruiting new business and supporting local businesses and startups to promote economic growth? Most folks would have a hard time naming any recent accomplishments in that regard.
Further, how does a local chamber of commerce get the monopoly on speaking for every business in their community, and the taxpayer funding that goes along with it, even when the businesses and taxpayers may not agree with their position?
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