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Aspen chamber is on it

Dear Editor:

Saturday’s Aspen Times included a guest editorial that questioned the position of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association regarding the Aspen chamber’s membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It was a timely piece in light of this question being addressed by our ACRA board and executive committee specifically this week.

Many of us involved in the Aspen chamber are well aware that the U.S. chamber frequently does not support, or even works to oppose, many of the values that are important to the community of Aspen. Issues such as climate change, energy concerns and health care are examples. To address this disconnect, in fact, we invited and hosted a representative of the U.S. chamber some months ago. It was a positive meeting where we made clear our concerns with many U.S. chamber positions, and we sought ways that we could better influence overall U.S. Chamber policies. The meeting was complete with picketers and signs outside the meeting venue!

Over this past year, we have frequently asked ourselves: Should we continue to be members of the U.S. Chamber, or should we withdraw? If we resign, what kind of message could we communicate in doing so, and would it really make any difference to the U.S. Chamber? Just last week, the ACRA sent out a survey to our membership that asked this question. A good number of respondents urged us to stay involved while others urged the Aspen Chamber to disassociate from the U.S. Chamber. On the positive side, there are issues with which we agree with the U.S. Chamber, like the need for responsible immigration reform; and the education programs sponsored by the U.S. Chamber have been very beneficial to our Aspen Chamber staff.

Our discussion asks the question: Are we better off working from within the U.S. Chamber, as members, to urge changes in their policies; or is it most beneficial if we pull out and let the world know why? Our Aspen Chamber Resort Association board and executive committee will be wrestling with this very question this week.

In the end, we are looking for the best ways to reflect the values of our Aspen community and to make a difference in sharing these values. It is certain to be a lively discussion.

Warren Klug

Hotel general manager

Board chairman, ACRA


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