It seems like mergers are in the air. In January there was the merger of two Princeton residential real estate powerhouses N.T. Callaway and Henderson Sotheby’s. This month the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce merges with the Plainsboro Business Partnership.

“The partnership is designed to unite the resources of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce with the mission of the Plainsboro Business Partnership,” says a press release.

“The new Plainsboro Business Partnership will represent Plainsboro’s downtown business community, following a similar structure to other Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce programs, such as the Women in Business Alliance.”

The Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its merger with the Plainsboro Business Partnership at a launch event on Thursday, February 23, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at PNC Bank on Schalks Crossing Road. The event is free but registration is required at www.princetonchamber.org.

The Plainsboro Business Partnership was founded by Plainsboro resident and businessman Paul O’Brien in 2009 during his unsuccessful run for a seat on township committee. The group was “part of my platform to bring together the residents with the businesses of the town,” said O’Brien.

O’Brien gathered information about what kind of organization was needed by going from business to business and asking them if they were participating in the Princeton Regional or Mercer chambers of commerce or any other networking groups.

“I found that the majority of folks don’t,” said O’Brien. “I decided to create an entity so that we could promote ourselves to residents of Plainsboro and allow business-to-business networking as well.”

The group’s free meetings — held monthly at various businesses in town — featured appearances by area business owners and officials. Mayor Peter Cantu, O’Brien’s opponent in the Plainsboro Township Committee election, spoke before the group several times.

While O’Brien remained involved in the group, his activity decreased as he became busier with his own business, Golden Rule Real Estate, based at 607-A Plainsboro Road. The company provides placement help for assisted living facilities while helping families sell their homes.

“I still remain involved, but not to the point when I started the whole thing,” says O’Brien. “The Business Partnership has sustained itself for two years now. I was the original catalyst, and then later on Ed Keenan of Document Depot (in Forrestal Village) helped out as work responsibilities took me away.”

The next step, O’Brien says, was to find a way to take the group “to the next level.”

“Even though we ran two years of consecutive monthly meetings we needed to come up with another plan,” says O’Brien, adding that they considered joining the Mercer Regional Chamber, but eventually decided to join the Princeton Regional Chamber.

According to O’Brien, the Business Partnership was in talks with Princeton Chamber President and CEO Peter Crowley to make the merger happen for about a year. Now that it has, it will help the group significantly.

“We now have the energy and the number of people involved to really explode this. There’s a steering committee of 12 people who are planning events and organizing things,” says O’Brien. “These folks are doing what I had originally envisioned for the group.”

All Plainsboro business owners are invited to join the Princeton Chamber to automatically be enrolled in the Business Partnership.

Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, 9 Vandeventer Avenue, Princeton 08542; 609-924-1776; fax, 609-924-5776. Peter Crowley, CEO. www.princetonchamber.org

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