Chamber proposes new funding plan

Graham County Chamber of Commerce's Vance Bryce and Brittany Hernandez present a new funding proposal to the Safford City Council on Feb. 8. - Contributed Photo

SAFFORD — The Graham County Chamber of Commerce is looking for a bigger buy-in from the towns of Thatcher and Pima.

During Monday’s Safford City Council meeting, Chamber Executive Director Vance Bryce said he is proposing increased contributions from Thatcher and Pima, and reducing Safford’s contribution.

Bryce is proposing increasing Thatcher’s contribution from 4 percent to 20 percent of the Chamber’s budget, Pima’s contribution from 0.1 percent to 10 percent, Graham County’s from 3 percent to 5 percent; and decreasing Safford’s contribution from 64 percent to 38 percent. Funding from memberships would remain flat.

“This more reliable funding program would keep us focused on keeping businesses open, rather than staying afloat ourselves,” Bryce said.

To warrant the increase in funding, the Chamber is proposing merchant organizations for Thatcher and Pima, similar to Safford’s Downtown Association.

However, if the towns don’t agree with a change in funding, Bryce said it would likely result in a reduction in Chamber staff, a reduction in the number of events and a change of focus for the Chamber.

“Without increased investment from the towns of Pima and Thatcher, the Chamber will have to limit our scope to serving the City of Safford, whose leadership stood to save the Chamber a few years ago, and has generously funded it ever since,” Bryce said.