With election season upon us, we have had a number of conversations with Chamber members concerning the relationship between our chamber, the U.S. Chamber and also the Montana Chamber of Commerce.

The Missoula Chamber of Commerce’s current position is to not endorse candidates. The Missoula Chamber of Commerce’s key role is to keep members informed. Through advocacy the Chamber will use its collective voice to help shape policy. The Missoula Chamber’s responsibility to positions is to ensure that we share both sides of issues and educate our membership to the pros and cons of every issue before action is taken. While the U.S. Chamber and Montana Chamber occasionally endorse candidates, the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce does not.

The Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce holds memberships with both the U.S. Chamber and the Montana Chamber of Commerce. Those two organizations are not related in any way to our chamber nor do they regulate or control our chamber in any way. 

Although all chambers can work with all levels of government, they tend to concentrate their efforts on specific levels:

·         Local chambers of commerce tend to focus on local issues

·         State chambers tend to focus on state issues

·         The U.S. Chamber of Commerce focuses on national issues at the federal government level

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not a governing body, chartering agent, or a regulatory agency for chambers of commerce, and they have no say in how chambers decide to run themselves. The U.S. Chamber does not have the authority to represent or speak politically for local chambers of commerce. Any community can organize and support a chamber of commerce.

Hopefully, this clears up a sometimes confusing connection with these other organizations. Do we sometimes work with them and/or support them in their efforts? Yes. Do we always agree with their stance on every issue? No, we do not. 

With elections in the air, it is prudent to note that the US Chamber has a PAC (Political Action Campaign) that raises money separate from memberships that is specific to their campaigning on issues and candidates. None of our membership dues to them contributes to these ads or political actions.

The Missoula Chamber’s Director of Government Affairs Clint Burson is available to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding advocacy. Contact him via e-mail at clintb@missoulachamber.com.

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