The proposed merger presented to the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce and Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce members missed approval.

Mattoon Chamber members voted down the merger at a 61 percent rate. It requires a 75 percent approval rate of those casting a vote. The Charleston members approved the merger with a 88 percent approval rate, while it requires just 66.6 percent approval of those voting.

Mattoon Chamber Board of Director’s President Jamie Rieck said, “We are disappointed that the merger was not approved. Both boards of directors felt a combined chamber could accomplish more for its members in terms of greater educational opportunities and a larger marketing voice. But, as a member-driven organization, we must abide by the bylaws and will move forward as separate entities. Our board is committed to working just as hard for our members.”

While Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce members approved the merger, the merger required approvals from both chambers. Charleston Board Chair Jeff Baker said, “During these last nine months, we have all come to understand how both chambers work and have identified some areas in which we can combine our energy to provide exceptional services to our members. Even though the merger was not approved, we can benefit from the strong bonds that have been created during the merger discussions. We will continue to have great mutual respect for each other.”

Members had nine days to vote. The ballots were opened simultaneously in both chamber offices by election judges beginning shortly after 5 pm, Wednesday, July 21. The ballot boxes, which were sealed at the onset of voting on July 12, were opened. Ballots were removed and envelopes opened by the judges, who then recorded the votes. They also opened ballots attached in emails from each chamber office. Only the election judges had the passwords to open the accounts. In all, 152 members cast a ballot in Mattoon and 77 voted in Charleston.

Respective board members and chamber members observed the process.

This vote will be accepted into the record at the next regularly scheduled board meeting.

Both chambers will continue to operate independently with board member elections in the late fall.