Fishers, Carmel chambers of commerce plan merger

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The chambers of commerce in Carmel and in Fishers plan to merge into one organization, the groups announced Tuesday morning.

Directors from both chambers already have voted to approve the merger. They are asking members from both groups to ratify the plan Feb. 20 in proxy votes at meetings at the Forum Conference Center in Fishers and Oak Hill Mansion in Carmel.

If approved, the new chamber will be called OneZone. The combined organization would have about 1,200 members, with about half coming from each of the existing chambers.

Mo Merhoff, president of the Carmel Chamber of Commerce, is set to become president of OneZone. Plans call for Fishers Chamber of Commerce President Dan Canan to become executive vice president.

"Some members have been asking for years when we were going to merge,” Canan said in a written statement. “Businesses don’t pay attention to local borders when they’re looking for employees, clients, vendors or customers, and neither should we.”

Under the plan, OneZone will have a 25-member board composed of the current boards of both chambers. Dan LaReau, chair-elect of the Fishers chamber, will be inaugural chairman of the merged group.

“As organizations that focus on the economic success of our members, we recognized that we can increase member opportunities through a combined effort,” said LaReau, who is executive director of operations and information at St. Vincent Carmel Hospital.

Officials say it isn’t unusual for some Hamilton County businesses to belong to both chambers. Under the new plan, they’ll only need to belong to one.

Annual memberships, which range from $250 to $5,000, will remain at the same prices.

Officials said collaborative efforts among Hamilton County chambers have been taking place for more than a decade, with such events as the all-county annual luncheon and all-county women-in-business luncheon.

The county’s six chambers have been combining legislative efforts for six years with the Hamilton County Business Issues Committee.

“We chose the name OneZone because it describes what we see for the future: multiple communities, but one place to do business,” Merhoff said in written remarks. “We will be a stronger voice, a significant presence and a business advocate in an ever-changing workplace.”

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