Members of the West Belleville Promotional Committee voted unanimously Friday morning to separate from the Belleville Chamber of Commerce.
Promotional group Co-Chairman Roger Wigginton said the decision was amicable but made to allow the organization to better focus on its mission -- trying to draw new residents and businesses to the west side of the city and to neighborhoods in nearby unincorporated St. Clair County including Stookey Township.
"I don't want to use the word 'split,'" Wigginton said, "because in many ways nothing will change. We will still be strong supporters of the chamber and I will remain a member of the chamber's executive board. But this is something that is makes common sense for both sides at this time."
John Lengerman, executive director of the chamber commerce, gave the separation his blessing just before the vote.
"It got to the point where your agenda got to be a little different than the rest of the chamber's," Lengerman told committee members before they voted with a show of hands. "But when you have things the chamber can help you with, please come to us. There is no reason to think that we're abandoning anybody."
Wigginton said the move also would help the residents and businesses of the area manage the maintenance of problem properties, and to address other issues typically beyond the mission of a chamber of commerce.
It would also allow the group to become a 501(C)3 nonprofit organization that can solicit and accept donations.
Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-2626.