A planned partnership with a nonprofit economic development group is at the heart of a "rebranding" campaign by the Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce.

A planned partnership with a nonprofit economic development group is at the heart of a "rebranding" campaign by the Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce.

Officials hope the move will improve the organization and its member businesses.

Earlier this year, Steve Fireman, president and general counsel of the Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI), joined the chamber's board of trustees.

The move was part of a partnership the chamber is forging with ECDI, a Columbus-based nonprofit economic development organization, through which chamber members will receive increased business creation and expansion services.

In addition to financial literacy and enterprise development training, ECDI provides services such as business incubation, down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers and home repair programs for senior citizens and the disabled.

It also extends loans of up to $350,000 for business start-ups and expansions.

"This wonderful relationship between the UA Chamber and ECDI will provide essential business services to all UA chamber members, as well as providing them access to funding opportunities to grow their businesses," chamber President Becky Hajost said.

"Among other benefits, we hope to offer workshops and seminars in cooperation with ECDI that will provide a leg up to our retail members.

"The benefits provided by partnering with ECDI will give our chamber members access to valuable programs that will address their unique business needs," she added. "The Women's Business Center of Ohio, powered by ECDI, provides valuable resources to aspiring women entrepreneurs. When bringing your business to the UAACC and to ECDI, the options are endless."

Hajost said ECDI and traditional lenders that are chamber members, such as PNC Bank, The Arlington Bank, Farmers Citizen Bank and others, are key components of a chamber rebranding effort that began to take shape about eight years ago.

That's when Kathi Hight of Hight Performance Group was hired to help realign the organization's strategic plan.

In addition to providing existing chamber members access to business know-how and financing, the plan now includes greater membership retention and the addition of 100 new members.

Retention and growth will occur, she said, in part through promoting how the chamber can help individuals and businesses meet their needs.

"The Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce wants to be the 'Champion of Commerce,' " Hajost said. "Through this, the rebranding process, we hope to better address our offering gaps, expand services and find additional opportunities in this ever-changing marketplace to better serve our members.

"Our goal is to showcase all of the member benefits in a way that every business can see the high return on their investment and call their chamber first for all of their business needs."