Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce will relocate its offices the week of Oct. 18. The organization will relocate from 604 Cumberland St., Lebanon, to a larger space at 989 Quentin Road, Lebanon.
An open house has not yet been set, but Karen Groh, the Chamber’s president and CEO, said it will most likely be sometime in November.
The Chamber will also host two events at the new office in November: the Great Lebanon County Pitch on Nov. 17 and the Women in Business Holiday Networking event on Nov. 18. More information about upcoming events is available on the Chamber events page on their website.
The search for a new location began nearly three years ago.
“We’ve been in our space for about 10 years, and in that time, we’ve grown and have expanded our program offerings. Our current space has two meeting rooms, including a board room that has a designated capacity of 24. We have 29 members on our board; the board room had enough space for everyone to have a seat, but it was a bit tight,” Groh explained.
She added that the Cumberland Street space is beautifully finished and would be a “great location for a professional office.”
Groh was a Chamber member for nearly 20 years before being appointed as the organization’s president and CEO in April 2017. She had served as interim president beginning in December 2016.
When she joined the Chamber, the organization’s offices were at part of the repurposed Farmers Trust Co. Railroad Station on North 8th Street.
As the Chamber grew, offices moved to a larger space at the former Chemical Fire Company firehouse at 728 Walnut St., Lebanon. However, the meeting space was limited and was located on the second floor, which lacked handicap access. It also lacked parking, so the Chamber moved to the Cumberland Street location.
Groh’s research indicates the Chamber had several other locations throughout the years. Prior to August 1964, the Chamber was at 831 Chestnut St. She said it appears the Chamber was there throughout the 1950s until August 1964, when it moved to the former Treadway Inn (Quality Inn) — now the Hammock Hotel — at Quentin Road and North 8th Street in January 1985.
Groh said the Chamber has a lot of committees. When the committees meet, there are usually more than two dozen people involved, so they usually meet in the Cumberland Street office’s larger conference room.
“If we had a program scheduled for the same time as a committee meeting, we had to juggle space, and if a program we were hosting reached a certain capacity, I had to look for another space for it,” she said.
She pointed out that the Chamber hosted over 400 meetings in a non-pandemic year.
“That meant a lot of juggling of space. It also meant that monthly programs did not have a consistent meeting location, which can lead to some confusion for attendees,” Groh said.
Additional space became available in the Cumberland Street location, but Groh said it wasn’t quite enough to meet the Chamber’s needs. Early on in the search process, she explored the possibility of collaborating with other nonprofits in a shared space.
“We work with a number of nonprofit organizations. Each organization has an office and meeting space as well as (a) receptionist and equipment, such as (a) copier. I wondered if we could all share a space with a central receptionist and some shared equipment, but that idea didn’t come to fruition,” she explained.
The Chamber organized a search task force. The space the Chamber was seeking had to have the number of offices the organization needs as well as at least two meeting areas. It was also important that the Chamber remains within the City of Lebanon.
“We serve members throughout the county, but want to remain in the city,” Groh said.
The task force looked at a larger number of locations — some needed too much renovation, and others were too costly. She said the 5,200-square-foot space on Quentin Road is a perfect fit for the Chamber. No renovations are required to move in — just some minor cosmetic items such as new paint. And, it’s located on a major thoroughfare at the edge of the city.
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