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There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about the possibility of the San Diego Economic Regional Development Corp., the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and Connect merging into one big business-boosting behemoth.

That’s not going to happen, the people involved say. I talked with the leaders of all three organizations this week, and each confirmed that merger talks are off. Julie Meier Wright of EDC, Ruben Barrales of the Chamber and Duane Roth of Connect all talked about forming an “alliance,” and a more “formal network.” But a merger? No.

And the three honchos would only speak in broad terms of what a new alliance would look like. The general idea is that each org would take a more pronounced leadership role in areas where it has more expertise.

For example, Connect would take the lead in lobbying at the federal level because most of its issues are heavily influenced by what happens in Washington, D.C. While the EDC or the Chamber might take the lead on more local issues like water policy.

“Basically the leadership will take a look at a list of issues and decide who is leading on what,” Roth said.

Wright was the most candid of the three, when asked why there is a new sense of immediacy to the long-discussed consideration that one would be better than three. “We often talk that we don’t have as much influence in Sacramento and Washington as we should,” Wright said. “On policy issues other organizations have done a better job than we have — the (San Diego Imperial Counties) Labor Council, for example.”

A lot of people have wondered why the organizations couldn’t consolidate to save money and streamline operations. Here is an excerpt from comments made by Richard Kiy when Scott Lewis last blogged on the issue:

The idea of merging the EDC, the Chamber and Connect is an excellent idea. It will provide real economies of scale, avoid duplication of effort and help better align San Diego’s efforts to promote expanded economic development and innovation in our region.

But non-merger also comes as no surprise to those who know the players. Someone would have to take a back seat.

“I think we know each other quite well,” Wright said, referring mainly to Roth. “We will try to articulate leader-follower positions.”


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