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Cooley Dickinson Hospital invests in Hampshire County Chamber of Commerce

— The Cooley Dickinson Hospital has pledged a two-year investment of $15,000 to the founding board of the Hampshire County Regional Chamber and hospital President/CEO Craig Melin will be a member of the board for that body.

“We are so excited to see the Regional Chamber taking shape and developing promise,” said Suzanne Beck, executive director of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce and the interim director for the Regional Chamber. “We are now focused on creating our regional agenda and are buoyed by the support of business and community leaders who are coming together across all sectors of the county.”

Melin has been a strong advocate of the idea of a Regional Chamber, going back over 10 years when the concept was first discussed. He said a regional body can help the three major communities in the county — Northampton, Amherst and Easthampton — avoid duplication of effort where economic growth is concerned.

“It’s about partnering across the region,” Melin said. “If you look at Cooley Dickinson’s values, the very first one is “Building Partners.” The Regional Chamber provides an opportunity to build partners for the region.”

“At Cooley Dickinson, we see it as all one region,” added Melin, the longtime leader of the hospital, the second-largest employer in the region. “It’s promising to have the business community and the Chamber see it as one region as well. We can get much more gain out of looking at what’s in our collective interest.”

Melin said when he looks at the organizations getting on board the Regional Chamber, he sees organizations that want to succeed themselves and have the region succeed as well. “It just makes so much sense,” he said.

“We’ll have more impact as a group.” Beck said with the investment from Cooley Dickinson, the Regional Chamber is now one step closer to its $400,000 start-up goal, and is well on its way to establishing a task force representing all sectors of the community that will develop a regional agenda. “We continue to reach out to significant funders,” she said.

Melin and his wife, Carol, are longtime residents of Northampton. In June, Melin completed a doctoral degree in health care quality at The Dartmouth Institute in New Hampshire, where he studied for six years.

“I am now able to take on more in the community,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity to get involved, and I hope my involvement and support is helpful. I invite other organizations to join me in supporting the Regional Chamber.” Melin said he brings to the board a perspective on improving the health of the community, continuously improving the quality of the broader care system and helping to make health care more affordable.

Melin added that it’s important for the hospital to be involved in planning a regional agenda for the community because the region and Cooley Dickinson have a symbiotic relationship in which they rely on each other.

The hospital relies on the community to be vibrant and attractive because that brings a higher caliber of staff to the organization, and in turn, Melin said, the region relies on the hospital to enhance community health.

When Beck came on board at the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, Melin said that Chamber went through a positive transition and “raised the bar on the level of people actively working together, building partners, breaking through barriers. What I see in the Regional Chamber is the same thing happening, but on a broader scale.” For more information about the Regional Chamber, contact Suzanne Beck at 584-1900.

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