Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

In a recent meeting, I overheard someone say, "the Chamber doesn't do anything," and I was stunned.  My staff and I run at top speed every day representing the needs of business to government, advocating for business interests in nearly every community discussion, producing meetings and events that connect businesses to each other and to policy makers, engaging young professionals in civic leadership opportunities...the list goes on and on.

But, I hear the question behind the concern: what is the Chamber actually making?  What can a member hold in their hands that the Chamber has produced?  What is the ROI on membership dues if the outcome isn't tangible?

We are fortunate that so many of our local policy makers are watching the Chamber and listening to what our Board of Directors, our members, and our staff have to say.  We've created the kind of presence that is undeniably influential.  We should be proud of this.

It's clear to me, however, that this kind of influence can't be seen or felt at times.  We can't hold it in our hands.  The outcomes associated with our work connecting business to business, business to government, and business to the community are profound and immeasurable but they're largely first.

Consider this:  we helped lead the Clean & Safe Chico
Katie, Bill Such with Jesus Center, Peggy Mead with Chico Association of Realtors
Community Forum in May which led the Chico Association of Realtors to create the House of Hope, a new women's housing facility in Chico, which opened its doors today.  You certainly can't say that the Chamber created this house which will move women off the streets and into safe and clean shelter (a better scenario for the entire community), but if you look closely you'll see that the trail of this amazing project started with Clean & Safe Chico which started, in part, with us.

Thank you, members, for making the invisible possible.  We're all better off for it.

~ Katie 

Monday, July 22, 2013

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." ~ Charles Darwin

Just as it seems like we may be pulling out of one of the worst economic recessions to hit during our lifetimes, the City of Chico faces a financial crisis that has many of us reeling.  With the interruption and/or reduction of key City services, such as police and fire, we're questioning the impact on our businesses and on our families.  We wonder: what does this mean for me?

Because I sit in the shadow of City Hall on a daily basis -- literally hunkered down in the Old Municipal Building as questions and concerns fly -- I feel a great sense of responsibility and urgency to help businesses and members of our community understand not only what's going on but what's to come.

In many ways, it's business as usual for us.  We provide our members with extraordinary opportunities to connect, learn, and make a difference.  That's our job.  But, we're juggling issues on an advocacy level that are profoundly significant and unpredictable right now...issues that have enormous impact on the health and vitality of our economy and rest largely in the hands of our City staff and Council.

Most of my work is done behind the scenes and I share my opinions and suggestions with our policy makers regularly.  But, the best thing I can do at times is to simply get out of the way and let the businesses -- you -- speak directly.   After all, the voice of business belongs to all of us.

To that end, I encourage you to attend our Lunch Hour with the City Manager on Thursday, July 25th, at noon.  Brian Nakamura will be joined by Mark Orme, Assistant City Manager, and Chris Constantin, Administrative Services Director, and all have pledged their time and expertise to you during this Q&A session.  Seating is limited so let me know right away if you'd like to attend.

I'm counting on you!

~ Katie

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

"It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires great strength to decide what to do." ~ Elbert Hubbard

Last night, with Winchester Goose (a proposed craft beer bar) on the agenda, the City Council decided to hold off on making any further alcohol license decisions until they've had a chance to review the municipal code and consider policy options at the Internal Affairs committee meeting now scheduled for July 24th at 8am.  Licenses for the Winchester Goose along with the Mangrove Mini Mart (reinstated for discussion) will be considered at the August 6th Council meeting.

This delay isn't ideal for the proprietors, I'm sure, but it halts a chain of events that was considered very business-unfriendly by some.  To grapple with the concerns raised at this year's Community Call for Action, hosted by Chico State, I'm in favor of bringing the City, campus officials, business organizations, owners, proprietors, student organizations, Enloe representatives, and others together to begin creating a community-wide strategy.  If we don't work toward the same solutions together, we're going to end up sharply divided and adrift.  As I said in a recent email to our Mayor, City manager, and Chief of Police about this issue: "Let's get ahead of this speeding train, slow it down, and decide where we want it to go.  Right now, it's carving a(nother) very contentious path through our community." And, in my honest opinion, the last thing we need is more conflict.

On another note, I recently met with Don Krysakowski and Renee Friemoth of the Work Training Center. They are actively looking to pair businesses with WTC clients through a job placement program called Community Employment Services.  Having worked as a job skills coach in college, I know how powerful programs like these can be for employers and potential employees.  If you're interested in exploring the benefits of a risk-free situational assessment in your business, please contact Renee at 343.7994 x 1407.

Enjoy the holiday tomorrow and stay cool!

~ Katie