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Our Most Frequently Asked Questions About Membership

What exactly is a Chamber of Commerce?

Glad you asked!  We're an industry association; a group of businesses and individuals who leverage our combined strength to address common challenges while maintaining an open, fair and equitable marketplace.  Our Chamber focuses in two key areas - helping businesses build their capacity, and helping consumers identify businesses that can satisfy their needs and interests.

How is a Chamber different from a Downtown Merchants Association, Business Improvement District or a Tourism Promotion Agency?

A Chamber of Commerce is a league of businesses who come together around a common goal (networking, lead generation, brand positioning, etc.) and/or a common characteristic (industry, demographic, location, etc). Firms and individuals become members through dues investment, and in exchange, receive various benefits, opportunities and discounts not available to non-members.  Many Chambers, like Ontario County Chamber, serve members (and consumers) in a broad geographic area.  

A Downtown Merchants Association is hyper-local, membership-based and dues funded. Bylaws often limit membership to firms and entrepreneurs in a defined [downtown] area. Benefits from membership are delivered in or in support of firms in the host downtown.

A Business Improvement District is a defined area within which property owners are required to pay an additional tax in order to fund projects within the district's boundaries. One does not join (or opt out of) a BID, and it cannot, by charter, provide services outside its boundaries. 

A Tourism Promotion Agency, sometimes known as a Destination Marketing Organization or a Convention and Visitors Bureau, exist primarily to provide information to current and prospective leisure travelers and group or corporate travelers. In many cases, like in Ontario County, one does not join the TPA. Rather, TPAs receive support from hotel room tax and other non-dues revenue to "...create visitorship and economic vitality for Ontario County by marketing its tourism assets and positioning the area..."

Can I be a member of more than one organization (Chamber, Downtown Merchants Association, etc.)?

Yes!  In fact, we encourage it.  Chambers are non-governmental, not-for-profit entities, chartered to serve identified geographic, industry or cultural communities.  Our services compliment, extend and magnify the impact of those provided by others in our market.

Can my business be a member of Ontario County Chamber of Commerce if it's located outside the county?

Yes!  In fact, our membership spans six counties across the Finger Lakes. Businesses and entrepreneurs choose our Chamber for high-quality professional development opportunities, access to decision-makers within Ontario and contiguous counties and the ability to participate in affordable, high-quality marketing programs targeted to consumers who live in or visit our area.   

Is there a discount if we're a not-for-profit organization, or if we're an entirely volunteer-operated?

While all businesses abide by the same dues investment schedule, our not-for-profit members enjoy certain additional benefits and services at no extra cost.

Still have questions?  Send us an email or call 585.394.4400.  We'd love the chance to connect!

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