– By Joseph Domelowicz
The Winthrop Chamber of Commerce, a well-known and active local organization, was named the 20th largest chamber of commerce based on membership in Greater Boston last week in the Boston Business Journals annual book of lists. The ranking as 20th largest means the Winthrop Chamber has jumped four spots from last year, when it was ranked 24th.
“This might be because of the recession,” said Chamber Executive Director Eric Gaynor, of the move up the list. “We’ve had really stable membership, but I know that a lot of other chambers have had trouble maintaining their membership numbers because of the recession and the bad economy.”
The number 20 ranking places Winthrop ahead of Chambers in some much larger communities, such as Somerville and even ahead of some regional chambers, like the South Shore Chamber of Commerce.
In talking about why Winthrop has seen such steady membership, at a time when businesses are deciding to leave other chambers, Gaynor pointed to a number of factors that help the Winthrop Chamber succeed, even during tough times.
“We do our best to keep our membership dues down and we’ve been successful in bringing in businesses that are not physically located in Winthrop, but which do a portion of their business in town,” said Gaynor. “We probably have about 25 percent of our members, that are businesses located in Revere, East Boston or Chelsea, but which operate in Winthrop, such as contractors or consulting services.
“Our new President, Bernice MacIntyre is an example of a business person who is located outside of Winthrop, but is committed to the community and the Chamber,” said Gaynor.
MacIntyre, who works for MGH Revere and lives in Winthrop, has long been active in Winthrop and represents MGH Revere’s commitment to the community.
“MGH has been a member of the Chamber, since they opened the clinic in Revere,” added Gaynor.
He also noted that the Chamber’s local phone directory is another big draw for some businesses. With more and more businesses switching to mobile phones as their primary means of telecommunications, local directories and newspaper advertisements are becoming the method of choice for those businesses to get their business phone numbers out into the community.
“Lastly, but most importantly, I think the fact that we really are a Chamber comprised of small business owners makes a big difference for us,” he said. “Our members are mostly small, family owned businesses that really see the value in being chamber members and they are loyal to us, even in the hard times.”