City chamber of commerce board members object to possible merger

The executive boards of the North Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce have formalized a letter of intent to open negotiations of a possible merger, although some members of the North Las Vegas chamber have voiced concerns about the deal.

North Las Vegas chamber board member Jeff Mockbee has begun petitioning fellow members in an attempt to block the chamber’s pending merger negotiations with the Las Vegas chamber.

Mockbee created the petition Sept. 4 and collected 20 signatures in the first two days, although the name of former president and CEO of the chamber, Curtis Cumming, appears three times.

According to the chamber’s bylaws, in order for it to be considered, 20 percent of active members must sign the petition, which calls for the rejection of the merger with the Las Vegas chamber or any other entity and the removal of all executive board members.

Mockbee said if he wanted to be a member of the Las Vegas chamber, he would be.

“At (North Las Vegas chamber) events, you feel like you’re an actual member,” he said. “But at (Las Vegas chamber) events, I felt like a piece of crap. All they cared about was how big of a check I would write.”

Despite concerns over losing the intimate feel of the North Las Vegas chamber events, executive board member John McMillan said the petition is premature.

“Nothing has been decided yet,” he said. “What’s been decided is to open up negotiations for a solution to the chamber’s financial situation.”

McMillan said the chamber’s dire financial situation has been exasperated by the city’s economy and loss of members. The only viable solution, he added, is to seek the financial assistance of the Las Vegas chamber.

The North Las Vegas chamber has less than 500 members, which many members feel is a benefit, providing a more personal, small-town feel than the nearly 6,000-member chamber of Las Vegas. Some members of the North Las Vegas chamber have cited the potential loss of small business-oriented services as their reason for not supporting the merger.

“I basically run my own small business,” said McMillan, an attorney and founding partner of Flangas McMillan Law Group. “I understand and want to maintain (the North Las Vegas chamber’s) small-business feel. People have to understand that I also have a duty to make sure the chamber is around next month.”

Lana Elliott, a member of the chamber since 2011, is running day-to-day operations while personnel issues are worked out. She said the chamber has valuable resources the Las Vegas chamber does not, including formal ties to Nellis Air Force Base and an ambassador program with intimate knowledge of the small-business community in the area.

“(The Las Vegas chamber) expressed intention of keeping our executive board, ambassadors and military affairs committee,” she said. “If their intention was to destroy us, they could have done it long ago.”

Cara Roberts, a spokeswoman for the Las Vegas chamber, said that if the merger were to take place, it would provide a “combination of resources that benefit both parties.”

“Where we are is a formalized letter of intent allowing the organizations to do the due diligence,” she said. “At this time, it’s really business as usual.”

But members of the North Las Vegas chamber, such as owner of Premier Printer Repair Stephen Melancon, are not satisfied with the lack of transparency by the executive boards.

“I’m hoping to get some clarity,” Melancon said. “They haven’t let us know what’s going on yet. We’ve been in a holding pattern.”

According to Roberts, no timetable is set for the pending negotiations.

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Nolan Lister at nlister@viewnews.com or 383-0492.

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