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Sin City Chamber of Commerce Launched

Las Vegas- Loretta Holt and Wayne Bridge, former Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce employees whose jobs were to increase membership and sell advertisements respectively, launched the Sin City Chamber of Commerce, which is targeting primarily adult-entertainment businesses.

Renee Rand, founder of Party Gals adult toy distributor in North Las Vegas, said she has been a member of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce in the past and other members snubbed her at chamber events because of the type of company she owns.Party Gals holds adult-toy parties in people’s homes.

“I feel like most of them put their nose up and treated us differently,” Rand said. “It wasn’t the chamber itself. It was more the members.”

Many of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce members act as if Party Gals is not reputable even though it has 4,000 distributors in multiple states and generates between $6 million and $7 million in annual revenue, Rand said.

Rand is one of the first adult-entertainment business owners to join the Sin City Chamber of Commerce and says the idea is “awesome.”

The Sin City Chamber of Commerce, 5852 S. Pecos Road, Building H and Suite 8, was established on July 4 as a symbol of the adult entertainment industry’s independence from the mainstream chambers of commerce, said Bridge, executive vice president of the new chamber.

“When this was conceived, we realized that there is a certain segment of the business community that is not solicited by or welcomed by the existing chambers in Las Vegas,” he said. “Our view is that all business in Las Vegas deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and equality.”

Since Aug. 1, about 20 business owners have signed up to be members of the Sin City Chamber. The chamber’s goal is to have 400 members by the end of the year, Bridge said.

Membership rates vary by the size of the business but average $350 per year, Holt said. The first-year members also must pay a $50 administrative fee, which includes membership cards, a plaque or certificate and a link on the chamber’s Web site to the member’s site.There are special prices available for multiyear memberships, and nonprofit organizations, regardless of size, can join for $250 per year, Holt said.

Although the adult-entertainment industry is the chamber’s focus, some mainstream businesses including accountants, insurers and travel agents are joining the Sin City Chamber in hopes that it will focus more on small businesses than city chambers do.

Rafael Chacon, vice president of Integrated Business and Tax Solutions in Las Vegas, said he used to belong to the Las Vegas Chamber but dropped his membership because “they’re so big they don’t really care about the little guy.”

“The small guy, if he can’t afford a lot of advertising, is insignificant,” Chacon said.He said the Sin City Chamber has asked him to be an advisory member, which will ensure small businesses’ interests are taken into consideration.

Each month the chamber will hold two networking events, one of which will be held at an adult-entertainment venue, Bridge said.

Also, the chamber will donate 10 percent of its profit to a nonprofit or religious organization chamber member that is making an impact on the community through programs that fight alcohol, drugs or domestic violence, Holt said.

The Sin City Chamber will offer its members a health insurance indemnity plan as one of its benefits.

“In the adult-entertainment industry, which is where insurance is really lacking, we’re hoping to bring a meaningful insurance plan to those employees,” Bridge said.

The insurance plan will be provided by Safeco Life Insurance Co. and will offer businesses monthly premiums that range from $120.10 to $181.20 for individuals and from $255.90 to $401.30 for families depending on which of the three plans are selected. Any chamber member is eligible to sign up for the health plan, which has no restrictions on which physician or hospital a policyholder can go to and no limits on medical conditions, said Pat Staley, owner of Green Valley Benefit Services Inc. and insurance broker for the Sin City Chamber.

“It’s open access to thousands of people who have been denied,” Staley said.

Chamber members can also purchase lifestyle-benefit packages for a $20 enrollment fee and $55 monthly, which include discounts on vision and dental services, prescription drugs and home health care. It also includes savings on travel, dining and financial and legal consultations.

Local chambers of commerce say they do not have a problem with an industry-specific chamber but insist they do not deter adult entertainment businesses from joining their organizations.

The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, which has about 7,000 members, said it has no problems with the Sin City Chamber, especially “if they’re addressing a niche that isn’t met,” said Jil Flores, senior vice president of the chamber and former colleague to Holt and Bridge.

“I don’t think we do niches; we represent business overall,” she said. “Any business in the city can utilize what the chamber offers by going to the educational seminars, advertising to the business community and networking.”

The Las Vegas Chamber does have some adult-entertainment members and there are no requirements to be a chamber member, Flores said.

She said that while some people have complained about small businesses falling through the cracks, she has not heard about any complaints related to adult-entertainment businesses’ being members.

Sharon Powers, president and chief executive of the North Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, said she has “a very serious problem with a group like that calling themselves a chamber of commerce” but no problem with an industry-specific group forming.

She said that there are no rules that prohibit a group’s forming and calling itself a chamber of commerce, but chambers share common benefits such as networking, community forums, professional development and training and lobbying on behalf of businesses’ interests.

“The adult-entertainment industry is a touchy subject, but they are a legitimate business,” Powers said. “We haven’t had to broach that topic over whether to accept them or not. I’m not certain that we would exclude them.”

She said that North Las Vegas Chamber, which has about 580 members, excludes only businesses that have questionable business practices or are under investigation.

While her chamber could possibly meet adult-entertainment businesses’ needs, it might suit them to ban together for common goals within their industry, Powers said.

The Henderson Chamber of Commerce, which has about 1,300 members, does not solicit to adult entertainment business but has had them as members in the past, said Alice Martz, chief executive of the chamber.

“Our criteria for being a chamber member is that they have to have a business license with the city of Henderson,” she said. “I’ve not known our chamber to ever shun anybody.”

Martz said her only concern is that each time an additional chamber of commerce is formed, businesses have to make more decisions about which group best suits their needs. She said the Sin City Chamber will not likely take members from the Henderson Chamber.




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