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Bethlehem Chamber runs free membership promotion

Numerous businesses join during hard economic times

Becoming a small business owner can be a tough proposition, even in the best of times. These days, with the economy still staggering, it can be a huge challenge.

That's the big reason the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce is offering new memberships for free to area businesses. Most of the businesses taking advantage of the program are relatively new, and it's targeted as a hand up for start ups, said Chamber President Marty DeLaney.

"When you start out in a business you need a hand up," she said. "A business gets all the benefits of being in the Chamber and gets to meet other businesses. It's all about businesses helping businesses."

The program offers businesses that have never been Chamber members six months of full membership benefits. Chamber members can buy health insurance through the Chamber, are provided discounts for various services, appear in the Chamber directory and can take part in Chamber events, including an upcoming breakfast with the Colonie and Guilderland chambers on Friday, Jan. 29 and the Bethlehem Chamber's annual awards dinner on Friday, March 25.

More than two-dozen businesses have taken advantage of the offer in the few weeks it's been running. Imperial Travel, The Wine Reserve in Glenmont, Corner Gateway in Slingerlands, Moment Catcher Photography of Delmar and Chancery Lane of Delmar are just some of the ones that signed up for free.

Membership dues are on a sliding scale, depending upon the size of the business.

Chamber member and owner of Glenmont Car Wash Dennis O'Shaughnessy first proposed the program. Since then, Chamber leadership has found it's bringing a swell of new members to the circle.

The Chamber has 578 members as of last count, but fully expects to reach 600 in the coming weeks, said Gina Bulman, who does membership development for the Chamber.

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