Thursday, June 25, 2009

Urban Chambers of Commerce: Think Before You Give Them Your Money

Detroit is a well-documented city in the tank, with one of the highest poverty rates in the U.S. and severe problems with corruption. The two city newspapers do a good job of uncovering the fiscal malfeasance and the abuse of the public trust.
But there is a place that has never been mined, and we have to wonder why it’s hands off. The Detroit Regional Chamber talks a good game about bringing good things to town. We really enjoyed this little essay about how the chamber worked on Detroit’s behalf in the auto flap.
But when we look at the chamber’s finances, we see little to enjoy.
What do you make of a group that brings in $5.4 million and spent $3.1 million in payroll-related obligations?
So this group spent 57 percent of its income on paying its officers. We think that's too much going for fat catism and not enough actually going to help the city.
Chamber President Richard Blouse was paid a package worth $444,476, including a base salary of $389, 683 in 2006. So how is he doing?
And Detroit is not alone in its money grubbing chamber folks.
In Los Angeles the percentage of chamber revenue that goes to salaries, benefits, and payroll taxes is 44 percent. In Minneapolis it’s 46 percent. In Dallas, 60 percent.
What a racket. Next time you feel you want to attend some chamber event to help out, remember who you are helping out; the well-dressed folks with the big smiles and the fat wallets.

Detroit Regional Chamber 2006 990

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