Friday, April 24, 2009

The Proof is in the Puddin'

Well, another Business Showcase has come and gone. I will continue to be amazed by the extraordinary amount of work produced by the office staff of the Chamber. Organizing, managing, coordinating and pleasing almost 90 business exhibitors is an enormous task. It's almost like a circus coming to town, setting up the Big Top, unloading all the animals, putting on a big show, and then packing it all up the very same day. I get tired just watching all this activity.

I've heard the same question over and over for the last few days...."How did it go"?

My honest answer would have to be that I don't really know. There seemed to be a lot of positive energy in the room, folks were smiling and jovial, we stayed comfortably cool on a hot day, and the whole building literally buzzed with activity all day long. DID it go?

The puddin' test on our success will be the feedback we get from exhibitors. After all, it's their day. We don't do this event because we love throwing up the Big Top and tearing it back down again. We do it because we think it's important for local businesses to support each other and Business Showcase has historically been an effective and efficient way to do that. Whether or not it was a successful, positive experience for participants that led to lots of leads for their business will be for them to decide. I truly hope they did find it a day well spent for their business. And if not, I hope they'll let me know how we can improve.

No rest for the weary! This weekend will be another buzz of activity around this gorgeous community, with even more people working together to make it a better place for everyone.

On Saturday the Chico Rotary Club, of which I am honored to be President, will participate in our 3rd Rotary-At-Work Day this fiscal year. Our 200+ members and their families will be out in force working on various community improvement projects. We start with a big celebration breakfast and then hit the streets with our tools, our funky orange vests and our smiles.

You might see us in Bidwell Park sprucing up the horse-shoe pits or painting the lifeguard towers at One-Mile pool. You might see us at McManus Elementary School refurbishing their track. You might see us at the Stansbury Home, at the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Park or at the Community Rummage Sale. But wherever you see us, please know that Rotarians are just a bunch of local business people who care enough about our neighbors to roll up our sleeves and Git 'r Done!

Later that day, I'll look forward to joining the Golden Valley Bank Relay For Life Team at PVHS. Like hundreds of other caring citizens, our team will be out walking in circles all day long to raise money for Cancer research. Honest-to-goodness, if you want (or need) inspiration in your life, go spend some time Saturday at Relay For Life. No matter how tired you are from a long week at work, you will be energized by the tremendous amount of love and compassion that engulfs this event. I guarantee you'll leave with spring in your step and a smile in your heart.

But since it's still Friday evening...I think I'll go home and open beer, throw the tennis ball for my dog, make a nice quiet dinner for my handsome hubby, and fall asleep on the couch watching TV. Ahhhhh....the life of a jet-set CEO!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Where is my "Mini-Me"?

Man...have you ever wished you were two people at once? You know, the meeting you're still in is running late and the meeting you should be at next is already underway? Don't you HATE when that happens? Those are the days I wish I had my own "Mini-Me" like Dr. Evil of Austin Powers fame.

That would be so awesome. I'd really love a "Mini-Me". (Well, maybe not THAT mini, but certainly a few 'lbs smaller would be excellent). I'd never miss a meeting again. Very cool.

I like to try to show up at every Chamber event we plan, but sometimes it just doesn't work out that way. Like last Thursday night. There was a really great Chamber event planned at The Hotel Diamond and I knew it was going to be huge! Lots of folks there to celebrate being part of the Chamber of Commerce. And I was late...really so late lots of folks had already left. Bummer.

It wasn't like I was just off screwing around somewhere. I was in an important meeting, with City Council folks, no less. We were there presenting our draft plans for proposal to run the Chico Visitor Center for another year. It's an interesting process.

Every organization, and even a few individuals, make a pitch for funding of specific projects aimed at boosting the economic health of the City. Ours is aimed at increasing Transient Occupancy Tax through tourism. We do that a couple of ways, including running the Visitor Center.

It's kind of interesting going through this process for the first time. I don't know that I've ever had to prove the value of my professional performance prior to delivering the promised result. It's sort of like an annual job interview, except it's for a job you've had for over 25 years, you have to do it publicly and anybody can weigh-in on your performance. Weird!

But I get it. The City is planning to again spend taxpayer money with the intent of improving our local economy and our quality of life. It's my tax money too, so I WANT them to be extra careful.

It can't be an easy job. There are very traditional activities that have always been funded on the public dime, and they are all very worthy. Unfortunately, nowadays the dime is only 9 cents. That means City staff and the Council need to find a way to cut back on the total cost of these activities, while trying to keep them all alive and well. No small job there. And no matter how you feel about the individuals making these decisions, you have to recognize that they are caring people, and this process can't be any easier for them than it is for those of us asking for funding.

All that aside, I have confidence in the process and in our ability to deliver the services the City wants and needs in a professional and cost-efficient manner. We're darned good at it, and our proposal this year includes cutting some non-essential activities, focusing on those that will make a real difference, and I project it will cost 4.5% less than last year. Not a huge drop, but it's heading in the right direction. I am very interested to see how this all turns out. And it will all be decided in just a few more weeks!

In the meantime, I need to get working on that "Mini-Me" thing, because it's shaping up to be a really busy Spring!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hug a Fireman!

Wow. Things are busy around here lately. We're pulling together our proposal for the City Council subcommittee requesting funding to continue operating the City Visitor's Center for another fiscal year. I'd really like to be able to revamp our website as well, separating "visitor" information from "member" information. It seems too cramped right now, and I have to admit I get tired of searching for what I need and sometimes just give up. Gotta get that fixed FAST!!

Business Showcase is coming up quickly, and we're happy to be bringing some fun speakers to the event this year to talk about "going GREEN". (Seems appropriate since Showcase falls on Earth Day!) We've got a couple of Hot Mama's who really know GREEN scheduled to speak. You won't want to miss it!

And if that wasn't enough, we're planning the Industrial BBQ for June 18. We're bringing back the concept of honoring a particular industry, and this year we've chosen Public Safety Personnel. It will be a lot of fun to honor our local heroes in the Police, Fire and Sheriff departments. It's important to me that we plan a patriotic, flag-wavin' fun party!! We need an opportunity to let our hair down and have some good ol' fashioned summer fun. At least I need it, so you'll all have to just suck it up and have some fun with me!

As before, we'll include a competitive cook-0ff, with local BBQ restaurants competing in the Professional division, and hopefully teams from the police, fire and sheriff departments competing in the "Backyard" division. Can you think of anything more fun than that?

So plan to come on out and join us that night to say "thanks a alot" to the folks who work hard to keep us safe. Hug yourself a cop....or maybe a fireman! (I do it all the time. He's 24 and his name is Casey Dietle. He's the best lookin' Cal-Fire dude in Butte County, and he just LOVES it when Mom embarrasses him like this!)

Speaking of friend Valerie Reddemann asked me if I punked my kids on April Fools Day. Honestly I didn't because Casey was working and our girls are 17-year old high school Juniors and therefore currently have no discernible sense of humor. However, if you punked your kids, or spouse, or bratty little sister, I'd love to hear about it! At this rate, April Fools Day will creep up on me again before I know it, and it always pays to plan ahead!