- By: Rick Whitsell, Fresno First Bank
Many businesses and organizations have been impacted by one of the worst recessions in American history over the past few years. Unfortunately, the Fresno Chamber was no different. Back in 1998, the Chamber experienced a high in membership, with numbers exceeding over 2,000 business members. However, during the recession, tough times force many companies to close their doors or watch every penny spent. Secondary essentials, such as support for industry organizations, were decreased or eliminated.
As we have slowly begun the climb out of this anemic economic period, declining Chamber membership seems to have bottomed out and has once again begun a renewed climb.
The membership committee and Chamber staff have focused their efforts to improve retention of current members as well as increase the number of new members. Our retention efforts will continue to focus on “closing the back door” by contacting members just prior to their anniversary date and emphasizing the Chamber’s unique value.
New members will be attracted to the Chamber in part by raising the awareness of the pivotal role the Chambers plays in promoting business and improving the economic and cultural well-being of the people of our community. We will combine the awareness campaign with an aggressive new member campaign lead by volunteers and staff members. The Chamber is excited about what the future holds!
- By: Bruce Batti – JeffreyScottAgency
There is no other organization in the Central Valley that brings businesses together like the Fresno Chamber. Whether it’s recognizing business leaders in our community or networking with other members and their businesses, the Chamber provides multiple opportunities throughout the year for its members to gather. In addition to mixers, “Eggs and Issues” with local legislators, the annual golf tournament and other ongoing events, here are some highlights for 2014:
- In January, we will hold our Annual Membership & Installation dinner. It is an elegant evening where we celebrate the accomplishments from the past year and preview the Chamber’s vision for 2014.
- In 2014 we will once again host the State of the City Luncheon, where Mayor Swearengin will share with the community the city’s recent accomplishments, as well as plans for the upcoming year. And in the fall, the Chamber will host a similar event with the State of the County. In 2013, over 1,500 business leaders attended these two gatherings.
The Chamber also strives to celebrate business leaders and entrepreneurs in our Valley through a series of prestigious awards. The Valley Business Awards Luncheon not only recognizes local, successful businesses through the “Zinkin Awards in Entrepreneurship,” but it also recognizes the “Leon S. Peters Award” winner. This award is named after one of Fresno’s most generous and benevolent community leaders and is given to a business leader for excellence in community stewardship. The Chamber also brings the agricultural community together to present two distinguished awards. The Ag Awards Luncheon honors an individual in agricultural or farming business, as well as presenting a “State of Agriculture” update.
Finally, in 2014 the Chamber will end the year with its signature Lights Before Christmas Gala where members will gather for a truly magical evening that celebrates the holiday season. In 2014, as in years past, the Fresno Chamber promises to bring the business community together to inform – to recognize – and at times, to just have some plain old fun.
Governmental Affairs Committee
- By: Ruth Evans, Evans HR
The Governmental Affairs Division as the advocacy/lobbying arm of the Fresno Chamber is committed to promoting a positive business climate, and to helping our members address issues they have before the city, county, state and federal legislators.
The Government Outreach Council (GOC) will increase its efforts to meet with City Council and Board of Supervisor members as well as their staff. These confidential meetings are part of our effort to communicate concerns, make recommendations and understand the issues they are focusing on. Eggs and Issues will continue to provide the opportunity for you to personally hear from and interact with state and federal legislators and local officials discussing everything from health care reform to immigration, CEQA reform, fracking and prison realignment. Our first speaker for 2014 is Chief Dyer.
Locally, one of the key areas we will focus on is much needed changes at the City and County from a planning and permitting process which are necessary for job creation.
Our federal focus will include:
- Immigration Reform
- Health Care Reform
- Federal Minimum Wage Bill
And at the State level, we will be monitoring a variety of bills carried over from 2013 as well as new bills that will have an adverse effect on business, including:
- CEQA expansion and reform
- Expansion of paid family leave and changing it to a protected leave
- School district and parcel taxes
- Efforts to undue workers comp reform
- Lowering of vote requirement for certain tax increases
GAC meetings are open to the public. We meet the 2nd Wednesday of the month at 12 noon in the Chamber boardroom.
- By: Al Solis, Sol Development
The EARTH Committee has evolved over the years and has combined various smaller committees dealing with land use, water and transportation. The components of EARTH are E=environment, A=agriculture, R=resources, T=transportation and H=H2O.
The core membership is an emailing list of approximately 100 persons, but committee meetings are open to the general public. The committee meets 8 times a year, on the second Friday of each month at noon in the Board room of the Greater Fresno Chamber of Commerce and lunch is usually provided. January, July, August and December are “dark” months. The Steering Committee is made up of the Chairman (Jack Hall), Vice-Chairman (Al Solis), Brian Domingos and Kathleen Childers. The draft 2014 program list has been prepared and is as follows:
- February – Fracking in the San JoaquinValley
- March – Telecommunication Impacts on Urban & Rural Business
- April – High Speed Rail
- May – CA Water Plan
- June – Fresno General Plan
- September – Annual Fresno County Ag Report
- October – Status of Solar projects in San Joaquin Valley
- November – Environmental Rules & Regulations on Development
Please feel free to join us each month, if you have suggestions on the proposed agenda or ideas on the other topics. Contact Al Solis at (559) 497-1900 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Small Business University (SBU) 2014
- By: Debbie Hunsaker, Alert-O-Like
As 2013 is coming to a close, we are now looking towards the New Year, 2014. While we continue our recovery from the economic downturn, now is the perfect time to share some of the programs we will be bringing to you in 2014 that will help you grow your small business!
We all know that the Affordable Care Act can have major consequences on our bottom line if we aren’t sure what we are required to do or, on the flip side, what resources are out there to help us comply and save money. This very important topic will continue to be on the front burner and we will have updates time goes by. 2014 promises a wealth of informative workshops designed just for you. Some examples of what we have in store are:
- ACA – The Affordable Care Act; What does it mean to your business?
- HSR – High Speed Rail; Get Certified, Get Trained, Get Work
- Marketing – Tools you can use that will help you grow your business
- Labor Laws, 2014 – What you need to know to help you stay in compliance
- Leadership – Develop the leader within you and your team
- Customer Relationship – How to grow your market
- Communication – This can make or break your organization
- Finances 101 – How to become more profitable
The SBU was developed with your success in mind. Together, the Fresno Chamber and you, we can help businesses in the Fresno region grow, prosper and thrive in 2014. Watch for these upcoming SBU courses and then get your reservations in early in order to take advantage of this great benefit of being a Fresno Chamber member!