Clearing up misconceptions about the chamber

It is always wonderful to meet with new people and share different beliefs. It broadens your thinking, spurs new ideas and can remind you of something you have been meaning to work on. Such is the case for me this week.

In briefly introducing the Maui Chamber of Commerce to a new group of individuals, I learned that there are lingering myths about the organization and realized it might be helpful to shed light on these to avoid incorrect perceptions.

So, let’s bust three myths right now.

Myth No. 1: Dues in the Maui Chamber of Commerce are expensive (with some thinking the dues started at more than $500 and others imagining them at more than $1,000).

Dues in the organization start at $299 per year (for five or fewer full-time employees), plus a one-time $30 administration fee. They are based on a “fair share” investment, which means that an organization pays for its membership based on the company’s size, which is determined by the number of full-time employees or full-time equivalents (i.e., two part-time employees equals one full-time equivalent). If a company has more than five full-time employees/equivalents, it then adds $9.50 per year for each additional full-time employee/equivalent beyond five to the base rate of $299 to calculate its annual dues.

For example, if a company has eight full-time employees and four-part-time employees, its company size would be considered 10 employees. Its dues would then be $299 for the first five employees, plus $47.50 (five multiplied by $9.50), for a total of $346.50 per year. The Maui Chamber of Commerce’s dues are far less than the dues of many business, industry, or other networking organizations and delivers a great return on investment.

Myth No. 2: The Maui Chamber of Commerce is a Republican organization.

This is absolutely and fundamentally untrue. The Maui Chamber of Commerce, founded more than 103 years ago, has been and continues to be a nonpartisan, nonsectarian business organization. We do not ask members or prospective members whether they are affiliated with a particular party because we are about uniting businesses on business issues, not creating lines. That said, we must make one thing abundantly clear: We are biased for business. We stand in staunch support of businesses, advocating on their behalf for a strong economy, appropriate regulations, reasonable cost of doing business and a high quality of life so that they can not only grow and create jobs, but thrive and benefit our entire community. We support efforts that help businesses and the triple bottom-line view of sustainability and oppose those that hurt. And, because of this, we seek and endorse business-friendly candidates for elected offices who share our views and will work to sustain and assist businesses.

Myth 3: The Maui Chamber of Commerce is about big businesses.

Whether this was once true 100 years ago or not, I couldn’t say, but I can say that it has not been true over the last 20 years that I’ve been involved with the chamber, long before I worked for the organization. I guess that is why I am still surprised to hear the comment. While the percentages change over time, as has Maui’s business makeup, more than 95 percent of the Maui Chamber of Commerce’s members are small businesses with fewer than 25 employees. By national standards, many might even be considered micro vs. small businesses. We serve businesses of all sizes and industry, but small businesses make up the majority of the organization and are well represented on the board of directors.

Understanding is everything; may these truths clear up any misconceptions.

* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.