Members of two Midcoast chambers of commerce voted June 22 to merge the organizations.

The results from members of the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce were 149 (90.85 percent) in favor of consolidation and 15 (9.15 percent) opposed.

For the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, the vote was 170 (95.5 percent) in favor of consolidation and 7 (3.93 percent) opposed, with one abstention.

Dan Bookham, executive director of the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce, was pleased with the 90 percent approval vote.

“It’s both exciting and humbling and I think it’s a great vote of confidence in the future direction of both organizations from the members themselves,” Bookham said June 23.

Bookham said turnout was healthy, with about a third of members participating through proxy voting and casting ballots at the polls.

There were three names on the ballot for the merged chamber, based on the top votes in online polls: Coastal Maine Regional Chamber of Commerce, Maine Seacoast Chamber of Commerce and Maine Coast Regional Chamber of Commerce.  

Maine Coast Regional Chamber of Commerce was the winner, with 56 percent of the votes from both chambers.

“That’s going to be the new name that will be filed with the Secretary of State on Aug. 1,” Bookham said.

Aug. 1 is the legal day when the chambers will combine. Operationally, it will take a little longer, Bookham said. The goal is to have most changes in place by the end of the year, Bookham said.

The next steps are working on bank accounts and voting in slates of officers. “All the intricacies of setting up an organization while running two existing organizations simultaneously,” Bookham said.

The staff levels will remain the same. “We’re not losing staff, we’re not adding staff,” Bookham said. Some job responsibilities will shift to allow “greater specialization and greater service on behalf of members,” Bookham said.

Bookham thanked chamber members who voted, board members, the schools who hosted the voting, and Eaton Peabody for help with the voting tabulation.

Shari Closter, interim executive director of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the process was successful because of transparency and the engagement by many people and groups.

“It was really exciting and it’s going to be a lot of work ahead of us but we’re really looking forward to it over the next several months,” Closter said. “It’s a new chapter and it’s a different beginning. It just shows how much you can get done when you work in a collaborative basis and you put your self interest aside and work in the best interest of the community as well as the members.”

In an email, Closter said: “As we had discussed in our membership meetings this year, we will be developing a broader spectrum of member benefits for all of our members so that we can help you to generate more business,” Closter wrote. “Everything that we are doing now for you, our members, will continue on an uninterrupted basis. We will be working very hard in the months ahead on increasing the value of your membership dues and the depth of our services.”

Closter added: “The future is in our collective hands and we are all poised and excited for this innovative opportunity to unfold. Thank you again.”