Members of the Palestine Area Chamber celebrate brining 126 new members on board in two days and raising $30K. 

The Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce recruited 126 new members during its high-energy membership campaign the last three days of January.

For two and a half days, volunteers worked against the clock, and each other, in a competitive program called Your Chamber Connection, led by humorist and motivational speaker Jimmy Cusano.

Since 1991, Cusano has worked with large and small chambers nationwide to increase membership and expand community awareness about how Chambers of Commerce bolster economic development.

With 410 members, The Chamber in Palestine had aimed to recruit 150 new members – an increase in membership of more than 36 percent. Roughly 60 volunteers came up only 24 members short of that ambitious goal, recruiting 126 new members.

That's a membership increase of more than 30 percent. Volunteers also raised more than $30,000.

Chamber Director Michele Merryman Bell said volunteers included business owners, managers, employees, and concerned citizens. They believe in Palestine, she said, and understand the importance of their local Chamber.

“There is no doubt that, when businesses band together, we have a bigger voice,” Merryman Bell said. “We we can achieve more. We love our small East Texas town, and we want it to thrive.”

Merryman Bell said the Chamber also plans to offer more self-development opportunities for its members. “We want to give our member the tools they need to prosper, and to do it as a team,” she said.

“Together, we can build a community where everyone succeeds,” said Bell. “One of my business professors said to me, ‘you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. You choose.’

“The Chamber chooses to be part of the solution.”