Beyond the Choir

  • By: Chamber President & CEO, Al Smith


This is the inaugural issue of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s “Connect” publication in partnership with the Fresno Business Journal.

For years, the Chamber has published a monthly report to its 1,400-plus members and government officials about the ongoing activities involving its volunteers and staff.  But, as the saying goes, we basically have been preaching to the choir.

With this issue, we go beyond the choir.

Gordy Webster, Jr., the Publisher of the Business Journal, along with members of the Chamber’s Executive Committee, agreed to an arrangement that would insert the Chamber’s publication into the first Friday issue of the Journal each month. This action not only ensures delivery to our members, but also increases the circulation of the publication to close to 10,000 readers.

So, to those of you reading “Connect” for the first time, let me share a synopsis of the type of happenings you will be hearing about.

Prior to joining the Chamber over seven years ago, I was your typical chamber member.  I was obsessed, like most business operators, in doing everything possible to make my business profitable and long-lasting.  As a businessman I felt that being a Chamber member gave support to a business trade organization whose mission and purpose was to develop a strong local economy.   If the economy was strong, I figured, so too would probably be my business.  However, many times the question would be, “But… what exactly does the Chamber do?”

I had no idea the breath of its activities until I agreed to serve as its CEO. Like most organizations it has the Chamber has its lofty mission statement, “To promote business and enhance the economic and cultural well-being of Fresno county residents.”  It also has its core objectives that include promoting the local economy; developing opportunities for members to network and build relationships; delivering programs that help member organizations grow; advocating to government officials on behalf of business; and, finally, enhancing commerce through community stewardship. That’s a broad range of involvement.

Throughout this and future publications you will be given specifics on just some of our current efforts.  You will hear about helpful seminars from our Small Business University which address real-life concerns for business owners like social media, HR issues, advertising strategies, etc.  You will be kept informed about the educational efforts we deliver to elected officials to protect our community from over regulation.   We will share the viewpoints of industry and government experts through our E.A.R.T.H. committee and Eggs and Issues breakfasts. We will acknowledge and salute community leaders with our State of the City and State of the County gatherings, Agriculture and Entrepreneurs of the Year luncheons and of course, the prestigious Leon S. Peters award.  We will continue to update readers on the Chamber’s personal development programs like Leadership Fresno and the San Joaquin Political Academy. We will maintain efforts we have initiated to address transportation, government efficiency and public safety.  And that is just a sampling of Chamber activities.

So, for our members, we hope you enjoy the new partnership with the Business Journal.  For those readers who are not Chamber members, hopefully this new communication effort will encourage you to join with your fellow business leaders to continue our efforts to improve our community. It is only when we join together that we can truly make a difference.

From this pulpit, it’s nice to see – not just the choir – but the entire congregation.   Thanks, Gordy.


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