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Out With the Old . . . ?

Chambers of commerce will have to rethink their programs-or risk losing Gen X entrepreneurs.

By Chris Penttila

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When Rebecca Frank started her Los Angeles graphic designstudio, Starfuzz, two years ago, she plunked down membershipfees to join not just one, but two chamber of commerce locations."I thought the chamber was the perfect place to start,"says Frank, 35. But she chose not to renew either membership thefollowing year. "The kinds of opportunities they offered,besides mixers, were very dull and uninteresting," she says."They really need an overhaul."

Frank is one Gen X entrepreneur who's bypassed the localchamber of commerce for other networking groups perceived as hipperand more entrepreneur-focused. Consider the YoungEntrepreneurs' Organization (YEO), a 5,000-member peer-learningand networking organization for entrepreneurs under 40, whichgained 1,266 new members between June 2002 and June 2003-a newrecord. "We're averaging 1,000 new members everyyear," says Brien Biondi, CEO of YEO.

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