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SRI Chamber wins name change lawsuit

January 20, 2012

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Washington Superior Court Judge Brian Stern ruled against the United Chambers of Southern Rhode Island in their request for a temporary injunction on Wednesday. The action was aimed to prevent South Kingstown Chamber of Commerce from changing its name to Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce (SRICC), which it had enacted on July 25, 2011.

The United Chambers of Commerce, comprised of the Charlestown, Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area, Narragansett, and North Kingstown chambers, filed for the temporary injunction on Dec.13. The chambers considered the name change to SRICC a hostile act which would confuse visitors to the area and foster a negative business climate in South County.

“The idea is to build bridges and we always worked that way, but we have tried and failed, which is unfortunate,” said Deb Kelso, Executive Director of Narragansett Chamber of Commerce in October. “We all need each other, and for someone to alienate 80 percent of the chambers of commerce in South County is not good business.”

“Engaging and using ‘Southern Rhode Island’ as a moniker is confusing on the part of the community,” she added. “It harms the business community based on its sub-standard representation.”

The legal representatives of both groups presented their affidavits to Judge Stern in December and he handed down his decision on Jan. 18.

“As a result, the Plaintiffs have failed to show any irreparable harm that will result or has resulted from the Defendant’s use of the name Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce. Finally, in balancing the equities, this court finds that the public interest does not weigh in favor of an injunction.”

Representatives of the chambers on both sides of the case provided their impressions of Stern’s decision.

“The whole process has been unnecessary,” said Clay Johnson, the Chair of the Board of Directors at SRICC. “I wish that the other chambers would understand our good faith effort to reach out to them we will continue to do what we do best, which is help our members and create a positive business climate in Southern Rhode Island.”

“It’s been a trying time for us but we’ve been positive through this whole thing,” said Joe Iacoi, Executive Director of SRICC at a chamber function on Wednesday.

With reports from Kathleen McKiernan.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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