“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare asked in “Romeo and Juliet” to show that what we call something doesn’t change what it is.
That perspective is applicable in the case of the newly minted Worcester County Chamber of Commerce, which, for all purposes, is still the Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce.
It will continue serving its Ocean Pines-area membership, regardless of what it calls itself and there’s nothing much anyone can do about the new name except protest. That includes the county government and the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors, since neither controls how, whether or why “Worcester County” is employed by whom.
The shame is the Ocean Pines chamber board and executive director apparently attempted to initiate a conversation about this label switch back in the spring, but most of those crying foul now had little interest in the chamber then.
That absence of interest, however, is the real challenge this and every other chamber of commerce in Worcester County faces: building and keeping the attention of its business members and the potential members they need to stay in business.
That’s becoming increasingly difficult for traditional chambers to do, as governments and governing authorities have more or less taken over the marketing and promotional responsibilities that were once the exclusive province of small chambers, and the reason they enjoyed a high community profile.
That has changed, and now chambers are scrambling for other ways to increase engagement with the public and prospective members so they can bring in the revenue they need to remain relevant.
Obviously, the Ocean Pines chamber’s name change was not designed to compete with the county’s economic development apparatus, but simply to enlarge the pool from which it might draw members. Chamber officials say they tried to convey all that back in the spring but that county government and the OPA board weren’t paying attention. If nothing else, they’re paying attention now.