Since the inception of the Cape & Islands license plate in 1996, the most popular special plate issued in
, it has generated $14 million in revenue. What most people do not realize, however, is that the proceeds from the sale of these plates are allocated to just five Cape Cod organizations.
The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce and Barnstable County Economic Development Council each receive 35 percent of the proceeds; the Lower Cape Community Development Partnership receives 15 percent; and Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Chambers of Commerce split 15 percent. Local chambers of commerce, and specifically local communities, are left out of the direct distribution of these license plate proceeds
and therefore receive nothing for what they do in the name of economic development and tourism promotion.
The time has come to reformulate the distribution of the Cape and
license plate proceeds to include the local chambers of commerce. These are all non-profit organizations with a vested interest in improving their local economy by promoting their local businesses and creating local jobs for their residents. Local chambers represent 6,500 business members and are at the forefront of issues that affect their communities and the center of economic development for their individual towns.
While the five organizations are admirable recipients, they do not represent an equitable allocation of funds. A direct portion of the funds divided by the 15 local chamber of commerce on Cape Cod would seem a more appropriate and fair allocation of the revenue designed to “go towards the Cape Cod and Islands for economic development” (www.massrmv.com).
Consider this: an investment of at least $150,000 per year from the license plate proceeds divided among the 15 local chambers of commerce on Cape Cod would provide much needed financial support to help them achieve the economic development goals of their missions. This includes initiatives such as attracting new year-round businesses to individual towns, working with town officials on business tax incentives
and business zoning, and increasing access to health care and child care for employees and employers.
Massachusetts resident taxpayers with an affinity for the region are subscribers to the plates. The region needs to meet its commitment to those Massachusetts resident taxpayers who subscribe to the license plate believing their investment is being used for economic development for all of the Cape Cod and Islands towns.
The members of the Local Cape Chambers Collaborative (LC3) are not advocating taking all revenue away from the existing recipients but rather a more equitable distribution of the revenue to include a direct allocation for the 15 local chambers of commerce. It is time for license plate revenue to directly benefit all
communities fairly and equitably.
The Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Local Cape Chambers Collaborative chaired by Lisa Franz, executive director of the Chatham Chamber of Commerce.