The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) announced its conversion to a tiered membership structure as part of our continuing integration of the GRCA and its affiliates, as well as the creation of a Chairman’s Circle level for its highest-level investors at a press conference on Thursday, March 21, at its offices in downtown Reading.

First, according to GRCA President & CEO Randy Peers, who opened the press conference, noted that the move from a model that focused on size of business, instead of the value proposition of membership, reflected the organization’s continuing integration, including the merging of the former Greater Reading Economic Partnership into the GRCA, as well as a more robust set of services as part of the new membership structure.

“The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance has established itself as the leading entity for business, community, and economic development in Berks County,” said Peers. “As we continue to focus on this big-picture mission, we’ve focused on what providing value to our members, whether it’s through promotion, support, or advocacy. We will continue to provide the highest level of service to the business community.”

Peers and the GRCA also announced the creation of a Chairman’s Circle level for high-tier investors committed to the GRCA’s mission. To become Chairman’s Circle, companies must commit to an all-in investment to the GRCA of over $20,000 annually. The first Chairman’s Circle members, Customers Bank, Herbein + Company, and Penske, were represented at the event by respective company leaders.

Each representative remarked on his company’s historic dedication to the Chamber and its continued support of its mission.

“We applaud the work of the GRCA, and are a proud partner in the Chairman’s Circle,” said Timothy Romig, Executive Vice President, Customers Bank. “Our commitment to workforce development and youth education programming have made a partnership a natural fit with our participation in the GRCA’s Young Leadership Conference and our participation in the CHOICES program. We will continue to support the GRCA’s efforts and outreach in small business development and support for minority entrepreneurs as we continue our collaborative efforts to grow our local economy right here in Berks County.”

“As a longtime partner of the GRCA and its affiliate entities, we are excited to join the GRCA at this new level of commitment,” said John Pagerly, Chief Financial Officer, Herbein + Company. “For our company, talent attraction and talent retention work are key components that we are excited to support. We’re looking forward to the GRCA’s efforts in these realms in 2019 and beyond. As we continue to grow, our need to recruit top talent increases. That’s why efforts like the GRCA’s in the realm of placemaking and concierge services for new hires are so important, and why Herbein has pledged its investment in the Chairman’s Circle.”

“This year, Penske proudly marks its 50th year in business with our roots and headquarters here in Berks County,” said Michael Duff, Sr. VP – Government Relations and Chief Compliance Officer, Penske. “Penske is a longtime and committed partner to the economic development work started under the Greater Reading Economic Partnership and the Greater Berks Development Fund (GBDF) and continued by the GRCA. We have experienced firsthand how important the financing and land development activities expertly executed by the GBDF staff can help support local economic growth. Penske’s continued investment in the GRCA represents our commitment to expanding these efforts and investing locally in our community.”

Peers closed by thanking the Chairman’s Circle members and acknowledging four other companies who have now committed to the Chairman’s Circle level: Brentwood Industries, RKL LLP, Wells Fargo, and Met Ed – FirstEnergy Corp. Peter Rye, President of Brentwood Industries and Chairman of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce Board, could not be in attendance at the press conference, and offered his support of Brentwood’s investment in the Chairman’s Circle level: “We are thrilled to solidify and grow our partnership with the GRCA as it continues to impact our business community in positive ways. We appreciate the GRCA’s leadership of downtown revitalization efforts, including its focus on fostering partnerships and collaborations at its office in downtown Reading and across the county.”

“Thank you to the GRCA for its support not just of the Berks County business community, but its support of the energy sector and manufacturing in our county,” said Edward Shuttleworth, Regional President, Met-Ed. “The GRCA has made important strides in moving all sectors of our economy forward over the past two years, and we are a committed partner to advance these efforts. We also support the advocacy work the GRCA does on the behalf of companies of all sizes. A healthy business climate in Berks County means companies can continue to thrive and grow as our county trends upwards.”

As part of its continued evolution and focus on value to its members and the business community of Berks County at large, the GRCA has established a cohesive yearly calendar of sponsorship, programs, and signature events opportunities for member company engagement, support, and connections. In 2018, the GRCA re-imagined its signature events—Taste of Berks (formerly Taste of the Chamber), The Dinner, and the Annual Summer Picnic—as well as adding a new fourth signature event, the Building Berks Awards, which recognizes outstanding real estate and development projects in Berks County. To be held each November, the first Building Berks Awards garnered 30 nominations in 12 categories.

The GRCA strengthened its signature programs, including Women2Women, Berks Family Business Alliance, and corporate training via streamlined, impactful programming and engaging content. The organization also recently announced the addition of Leadership Berks and Berks Alliance to its roster of signature programs, bringing its strategic focus on community and leadership development in the business community to the forefront.

“In the past two years, the GRCA has positioned itself as Berks County’s leading business association and economic development entity,” said Peers. “Tiered membership focuses on the value proposition the GRCA brings to individual companies, and streamlines their investment based on the priorities that are important to them. For many of our larger companies, the investment is about achieving long-term community and economic development goals such as talent attraction, downtown revitalization, business expansion and job creation. The Chairman’s Circle uniquely recognizes these companies for making that commitment in building a stronger Berks County poised to grow and thrive well into the future. We thank these companies for their investment, their collaborative spirit, and their dedication to our region. Our community is stronger with your partnership.”