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Two of Oregon's Biggest Business Associations are Merging

Posted Thursday, November 17, 2016 by Erik Siemers.

NOTE FROM PPI : We are an association member of AOI maintaining representation for our Membership in Oregon. We intend to stay involved with the larger organization when they merge in July 2017.

Associated Oregon Industries and the Oregon Business Association — two of the state’s biggest business advocacy groups — on Thursday announced plans to merge next year.

In a news release, the organizations said the existence of multiple statewide business associations has created confusion both for the business community and Oregon policymakers. As AOI and OBA have worked more closely in recent years, the organizations began to engage in discussions over a merger, which they say will result in larger organization that will benefit from each other’s shared expertise to provide a more unified voice before policymakers.

Sam Tannahill of A to Z Wineworks and chair of the Oregon Business Association said the group’s merger with Associated Oregon Industries will better serve their shared membership. Tannahill will serve as chair of the new association for the first year.Enlarge

“We’re taking the best from AOI and OBA in order to create a truly new association that benefits from broad-based, diverse perspectives and needs,” OBA Chair Sam Tannahill, founder of founder of A to Z Wineworks, said in a news release. “We’re confident that business in Oregon and Oregon itself will benefit by us working better together.”

On July 1, OBA will merge into AOI to form a new association under a yet-to-be-determined name.

Their current CEOs — Ryan Deckert at OBA and Jay Clemens at AOI — will remain in those positions until the merger is complete. Meanwhile, the organizations have formed a search committee to hire a CEO for the new association.

Tannahill will serve as chairman of the new association for the first year. Scott Parrish, CEO of Newberg-based dental equipment maker A-dec and vice chair of AOI, will serve as vice chair of the new association.

As it works now, each association conducts its own separate advocacy work, despite the fact that their policy agendas were frequently aligned and “there was significant overlap in membership,” the organizations said in a news release. That made it “confusing and sometimes counterproductive” when talking to elected officials and other policymakers.

Over the past several years, AOI and OBA said they’ve worked more closely to coordinate their efforts, ultimately leading to the merger talks.

OBA’s board approved the merger Nov. 15, while AOI’s board gave its approval Nov. 16. The organizations will remain separate through the upcoming legislative session, though they will continue collaborating on policy discussions.

“This is the culmination of three years of intense discussion and outreach,” Pat Reiten, president of Portland-based PacifiCorp Transmission and chairman of the AOI board, said in a news release. “We wanted to make sure we did this right because it’s not only about what is good for business, but, ultimately, what’s good for Oregon.”

In addition to advocating on behalf of their members, the state’s business trade groups also coordinate the Oregon Business Plan, a statewide business strategy effort that organizes the annual Leadership Summit. This year’s summit, scheduled for Dec. 5 at the Oregon Convention Center, will focus on the state’s looming budget deficit.

OBA and AOI said their merged organization will continue to have mutual responsibility for the Oregon Business Plan, alongside the Oregon Business Council and the Portland Business Alliance.

*Erik Siemers is managing editor of the Portland Business Journal.* 

Article sourced from Oregon Business Journal