MANATEE -- The Manatee Chamber of Commerce, with nearly 2,200 members, is the largest in the Tampa Bay region.
As of this week the Manatee chamber boasts 2,198 members.
Many factors contribute to Manatee Chamber of Commerce's success, said Bob Bartz, president of the Manatee chamber. "We try to meet the needs of the business and nonprofit community," Bartz said. "We do so many different events to appeal to almost everybody. We like to think of ourselves as running two organizations simultaneously."
The Manatee Chamber of Commerce has 25 committees working on infrastructure and other issues concerning the area business community such as health care. About 560 business people are serving on those committees, Bartz said.
The overall layout of the Tampa Bay metropolitan areas may contribute to the difference in membership numbers, too.
There are no geographical requirements for joining the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, but Bartz said most members are doing business in the 893 square miles comprising Manatee County.
Similarly, there are no geographical requirements for joining the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. The Greater Sarasota and Manatee Chamber share some of the same members said Brittany Lamont, director of communications and events.
"We have some members from Tampa and St. Pete," Lamont said. "And with Manatee and Sarasota being such a regional area there's really no boundary. It's more about where you're doing business and where your target market is."
Compared with the Pinellas County market for chambers of commerce, for example,
the Sarasota and Manatee chambers have it pretty easy when it comes to attracting businesses to join. A quick Google search shows the St. Pete-Tampa area has more than a dozen chambers of commerce serving its target areas.
Some chambers are specific to the type of business and target markets, such as the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce. They have 800 members.
The Tampa Bay Beaches chamber has a "gentleman's agreement" with other chambers, said Roxanne Anderson, membership director for the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce.
"We have regional meetings and we have statewide meetings where all the chambers get together and make sure we're doing right by businesses in the area," Anderson said. The Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce tries to focus on beach businesses, she said.
Price may also be a factor when businesses consider which chamber to join.
The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce's base membership rate is $460, Lamont said. The Greater Sarasota chamber is following an industry trend of moving from a fair-share model to a tiered model in stting rates, she said.
A fair-share model ensures businesses in the same industry pay the same membership fee, Bartz said. The Manatee Chamber of Commerce operates on the fair-share model with a starting rate of $360. The rate increases based on factors such as number of employees, number of seats in a restaurant or number of rooms in a hotel.
Tiered membership structures typically offer memberships with varied benefits at different prices.
The Tampa Bay Beaches chamber offers a starting rate of $300 but also has a bundled package for $400 that includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony, guaranteed passes at chamber networking events and links on the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce website.
Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter @jayohday.