Monday, December 7, 2015

Tim O'Reilly, popular for coining the phrase 'open source,' says, "Every industry and every organization will have to transform itself in the next few years." I agree with this - but I think we need to kick it up a notch: everything will be transformed in the next few years whether we like it or not, and we can either react to the changes as they come or take the wheel and hit the gas.

I think about the effects of rapid change on our very own city. Every community in California is grappling with the aftermath of AB 109 and Prop 47 and Chico is no different. In my opinion, as I help to lead an organization focused on our members' #1 priority of a safer community, the solution is going to be largely home-grown and starts with adapting to the community-oriented policing model rolling out in Chico now. In many ways, our hands are already on the wheel.

We can and should look to other communities for best practices - as we have done with much success in replicating the campus-community safety policies in San Luis Obispo this year - but we shouldn't underestimate the unique and immediately impactful work happening in Chico right now that simply couldn't be duplicated in denser areas of the state. In this case, geography and the enduring pride that forms the backbone of our community are on our side and are making a difference both behind the scenes and right in front of our very eyes, like the partnership between Stairways and our police department's Target Team.

So, while I think our vision of a safer community is going to require heavier lifting than less complex community goals of the past, I do think it's possible to achieve it if we all participate, in some way, in the role designed specifically for citizens in community-oriented policing. My request of you, as you plan out 2016 for your business, is to consider attending our monthly safety meetings to shake hands with neighboring businesses and our police department. Oftentimes, familiarity is the first step in building the connections that will make our community stronger and safer in the long run. The first safety meeting hosted by Team Chico in 2016 will be held on January 14th from noon - 1pm at the PG&E offices on Rio Lindo. And if you haven't tried yet, check it out.
Lastly, as we kick off the giving season, please consider donating time, goods, or funds to a local provider or service that benefits the community and our citizens year-round. Lending a hand rather than giving a hand-out does wonders this time of year and could save lives.

Enjoy the season, your families, and the wintery weather, and hold on to your hats because we're "Moving Chico Forward" in 2016!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Business Spotlight on The Hignell Companies
Presented to Chico City Council on November 3, 2015

Good evening. I’m Rick Anderson of YP, and First Vice Chairman of the Chico Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Tonight, we are pleased to spotlight The Hignell Companies, a nearly 70 year old property management, maintenance and construction company serving northern California since 1948. Joining us tonight is Phil Larios, President & CEO of The Hignell Companies who will be happy to answer your questions following this presentation. Also with us is Katie Simmons and Angela Cole from the Chamber who coordinated this presentation and will deliver our economic impact analysis created by Chabin Concepts.

The Hignell Companies is a family-owned company that has offered property development services and property management in Chico for nearly 70 years. Back in 1948, Fred Hignell, Jr. along with his partner at the time, Floyd Strange, were responsible for the construction of over 1,000 homes in 25 subdivisions, in addition to apartment and commercial projects. Doug Hignell joined his father in 1970, and expanded the vision for the company to include an emphasis in real estate syndication and property management services and a professional management team.

The company has experienced multiple name changes over time from Hignell & Strange to Hignell & Hignell to Hignell, Inc. dba The Hignell Companies. They saw the community change significantly from the 1940’s to the 1970’s, and knew it needed different things. While they did not have a focus on the college community, they saw how the expansion of greater access to education affected the area and their business as well as the community as a whole.

The Hignell Companies does so much more than just property management. Over the last three decades, the company has built numerous apartment complexes, a professional office complex of 37,026 square feet, a small specialty shopping center, developed and marketed a 64 unit duplex subdivision, a 59-lot planned unit development, and have built and are managing The Courtyard at Little Chico Creek, a 41-unit assisted living facility for the elderly. Above all of this, they also offer the management of home services and apartments, and are a for-hire professional services organization providing a plethora of home services to our community including Heating & Air Conditioning, Electrical, Painting, Plumbing, Construction/Remodels, Flooring and Cleaning. This is done under the umbrella of “Experts In Your Home.” They do all of this while creating a caring community that transforms lives.

The Hignell Companies started a non-profit organization called Creating Caring Communities as a goal to build community and also The Hignell Foundation, which consists of a Community Impact Fund and an Employee Care Fund.

The Hignell Companies is helping to shape the future of Chico by working in partnership with the city through relationships. Phil says they focus on the future with their sustainable growth plan, providing good jobs in a stable community-based company.

With the growing need for new developments in our community, the ability to get a project up and off the ground within three months is sorely missed. Today’s timeline is more like 3 years from concept to permit. Along with speed of development, costs have dramatically increased and Phil notes their biggest challenge is the entitlement process. Projects that cost $9,000 per unit not so long ago now cost $22,000 per unit. From planning to building to sale, the ability to move a project in a timely fashion is imperative and is an area of constant focus for the company. Until we can get these challenges under control, the company’s ability to make a difference is impacted.

With that, I am going to turn the presentation over to Katie Simmons to review the economic impact slide. Following Katie’s presentation, Phil is here to answer any questions you might have.
Last week, our Board of Directors met for their annual planning retreat.  To round out the discussion, we included our Ambassador Executive committee and the Committed Leaders of our Young Professional Organization, as well as our staff.  What emerged? A stronger commitment from our leaders to advance our Community Vision in 2016 and an understanding that traditional Chamber activities like networking are still necessary but can be aligned with our advocacy and economic development activities to create higher value and longer lasting relationships.  One member said, "the relationships I build through trying to make a difference in this community are stronger and more valuable for me as a business person in Chico."  That's exactly what we're after: impactful connectivity.  

The Chamber has long existed to bring people together - but the reasons behind this are changing.  People have limited time, they follow each other on Twitter, they advertise in ways our founders wouldn't have dreamed possible, and younger professionals are looking to join causes not clubs.  A Chamber, as a catalyst for both change and connectivity in the modern world, needs to combine the two.  What our Board of Directors ratified last week is the fact that we exist to "leverage the voice of business for community good."  The voice of business is not one lone voice but the culmination of hundreds, including yours.  And why do we do this?  Because thriving businesses lead to a healthy community - your community, our community.  

I am confident that everything you expect from your membership will triple in value for you next year, either because you've decided to get involved or because the impact we're making together is more visible.  Another member paused mid-conversation last week and said thoughtfully, "you know, my business needs and personal needs are now inseparable." And I think that as we move toward a more blended lifestyle (rather than the fictitious "balanced" lifestyle I was raised to believe existed) we will hear this more and more.  You not only need a premiere place to do business, but you need an affordable, safe, healthy community in which to live.  That's the beauty of Chico.  We really can have it all.  And our Community Vision positions us to achieve all of this...together.  Thank you for your continued support of our work.
Here is the team leading the Chico Chamber forward!  2016 Board of Directors, Ambassador Executive committee and YPO Committed Leaders.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Business Spotlight on North Valley Ag Services
Presented to Chico City Council on October 6, 2015

Good evening. I’m Toni Scott with Morrison & Company, and Chair Elect of the Board of Directors for the Chico Chamber of Commerce.

Tonight, we are pleased to spotlight North Valley Ag Services, a nearly 60-year old business, cooperatively owned by local farmers who are both members and patrons.

Joining us tonight is Taylor Denney, Sales Manager for North Valley Ag Services, who will be happy to answer your questions following this presentation. Also with us is Vicki Doll from Chabin Concepts who will deliver our economic impact analysis, and Katie Simmons with the Chico Chamber who coordinated the presentation. North Valley Ag Services was founded in 1957 as Chico Bean Growers by 15 bean farmers, who were looking to work together to process and market their dried, colored beans. As a cooperative, the business model these farmers sought is unique from traditional business structures that most may be familiar with, but not uncommon in the agriculture industry. Cooperatives are owned by growers and serve their grower-members, and in the case of Chico Bean Growers, allowed the founding farmers to collaboratively pool resources to better their position in the marketplace. In 1979, a peak year for the company, Chico Bean Growers processed, stored, and marketed 22 million pounds of beans.

Yet, over time, the needs of the Chico Bean Grower- members changed, particularly as farmers in the area shifted from growing beans, to walnuts, almonds, and other permanent crops. Today, just 2 million pounds are delivered by local farmers to Chico Bean Growers, a number that represents 10% of the peak production once experienced locally.

Like any business responsive to its customers and its owners – Chico Bean Growers recognized the need to change with its growers. As President Mark Pierce succinctly summarizes, “The fundamentalism of farming is change.”

As such, about 25 years ago, Chico Bean Growers evolved to North Valley Ag Services, transitioning to a farm supply company that serves farmers from Woodland to Redding. Based here in the Chico, on Bell Road, the main focus of the co-op now is to store and distribute soil amendments and crop protection materials to area growers, which help keep soils fertile, healthy, and producing crops that help make California the number one agriculture state in the nation, significantly impacting our economic health.

North Valley Ag Services handles over 300 railcars of soil amendments per year and stores materials for major suppliers. They follow the strictest safety protocols, and are continually focused on educating their employees and their farmer customers on the proper use and handling of these materials. Farmers, like any business owner, are keenly aware of their bottom line, and recognize that spending more than they need to on any inputs, could negatively impact profits. North Valley Ag Services works with its member-owners to ensure that farmers are taking the steps to keep their orchards and fields healthy, and businesses profitable.

In addition, among other services like bean cleaning, and crop protection services, the company provides soil and tissue sampling services – important particularly in a drought year to ensure healthy trees, soil, and quality crops.

The dynamic nature of the business has been one catalyst that has led their longevity in the Chico business community. In 2001, the organization suffered a loss, and saw $3.5 million in sales. In 2015, North Valley Ag Services is poised to hit $55 million in sales, with a growth expectation of 6-7% per year. This allows the Chico business to continue to retain and expand its employment, and continue to meaningfully contribute to the number on industry in the county. Butte County’s agriculture industry is valued at a gross crop revenue of $810 million. One those almonds have chocolate on them, or our rice is made into tasty rice chips, that value can double to quadruple, based on UC Davis estimates.

Despite this growth and success, however, there are challenges that face North Valley Ag Services and its grower members. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Census of Agriculture, over the last 30 years, the average age of U.S. farmers has grown by nearly eight years, from 50.5 years to 58.3 years. Unfortunately, the data also shows that there aren’t enough aspiring farmers coming behind this aging generation, with the potential for a huge loss of family-owned farms. There is a tremendous need for succession planning in the agriculture industry, with other issues such as the Estate Tax, having the potential to harm the transfer of family farms to the next generation. And with 98% of all farms in the United States family-owned, this is a significant battle to overcome to preserve these vital businesses.

As they look to the future as a growing business in this city, North Valley Ag Services is particularly attune to the need for a strong focus on public safety. President Mark Pierce counts public safety as one of the most important factors impacting their business. With their own railyard and sensitive materials on site, North Valley Ag Services has a strong relationship with local public safety agencies, including the Chico Fire Department, and notes the need for public safety in keeping their business healthy.

With that, I am going to turn the presentation over to Vicki Doll with Chabin Concepts to review the economic impact slide. Following Vicki’s presentation, Taylor is here to answer any questions you might have.

Friday, October 2, 2015

I go to a lot of meetings. More than I can count. And the one thing each meeting has in common, no matter the topic, is change - either rolling with it, forcing it, or recovering from it. Nothing is static anymore. Our working lives are as varied as the thoughts that run through our minds - at least that's the case when the work is advocacy, as is mine. No two days or even hours are the same which is why long-term projects, like our Community Vision, are necessary to tether us to our ultimate goals.

Change at the Chamber is inseparable from change within our business community. We exist to be the voice of business, period, and when that voice needs to be louder or needs to change tone or tack, we adjust our sails accordingly and immediately. While incremental changes have served our organization over time, the feedback we're getting from our members, our Board, and millennials in Chico is that we need to speed up our own evolution to ensure we're not only relevant next year but tomorrow. It's critical to the health of our economy and the safety of our community that we stay on point as the voice of business every single day. Our vision for Chico relies on it.

To that end, we're dedicating the entire month of October to gathering your input on our Community Vision and on the Chamber itself. Because so much of our work is unseen (remember those meetings I mentioned?), we need your help in making sure we are perfectly aligned with our members and business community.

It's simple: our sole purpose is to lift the economic tide to lift all ships - it's the reason we were founded over a century ago - so we're getting back to basics as an organization and want to make sure we're all in this together. Please take a moment to answer our survey and attend our "Moving Chico Forward" discussion on October 22nd. It's more important than ever before that we speak with one voice.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Moving Chico Forward By Addressing Public Safety Needs

Good evening, City council members. I’m Katie Simmons, President & CEO of the Chico Chamber of Commerce.

As Mark Francis, President & CEO of Golden Valley Bank, and Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors, likes to say: everything we see is a result of a successful business, from the clothes on our backs, to the food on our tables, to the jobs that allow for the purchase of homes. Businesses make all of these things possible for our community.

It is also true that Chico is built upon a foundation of compassion and is a deeply generous community, led in no small part by the businesses that give to our shelters, services, churches, and community-based organizations with missions dedicated to improving lives. The level of giving and compassion that runs powerfully and quietly through our community is at risk.  It is at risk because of a feeling of lawlessness that pervades perceptions and experiences in Chico.

Without adequate accountability and enforcement to maintain civility, and standards and expectations upheld for all citizens, there is a growing sense of decline in our community and a noticeable erosion of confidence in our downtown and other business districts, neighborhoods, and green spaces. And with these increasing frustrations and a sense of being unheard, come acts of vigilantism and extremism that put everyone at risk.

Community members are reaching and surpassing personal limits every day, and we are sitting on the precipice of watching the generous culture and character of Chico change irrevocably. This ordinance will not solve everything, nor does it complete the spectrum of needs we have in this community, but it sets a tone to our businesses and to our community at large that the crimes and bad behaviors we have witnessed, been victims of, or heard about are not OK in Chico.

We must continue to fill the gaps in our enforcement tool box with ordinances like this, as well as create much-needed bridges into services through partnerships that the Chamber actively participates in. One will not be successful without the other in meeting the needs of all citizens in Chico, and the business community has been part of the solution all along.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Last night, Chico joined a growing list of California cities approving the formation of a Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID). This small assessment on lodging stays will generate funds for dedicated destination marketing of Chico and, if other neighboring communities join in, all of Butte County. Whereas Transient Occupancy Tax was once used for this purpose, the TBID will provide a sustainable funding source over time to attract visitors for overnight stays, increasing the patronage of our hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, and more. We're pleased that the City Council voted in favor of this proven strategy for tourism development.

You may have heard about the "Safety Meetings" we're hosting around town with Team Chico and the Chico Police Department.  Building off of our business walks and the Nord Corridor & South Campus safety meetings we hosted in June and July, we're bringing these opportunities to other business districts in Chico to improve communications and connectivity with law enforcement. These meetings are free and open to business and property owners in each area, as well as to residents who have an interest in participating.

Upcoming meetings:
  • Mangrove and Vallombrosa Avenues & Bidwell Park: Monday, September 21st, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. in the CARD Community Room, 545 Vallombrosa Avenue. 
  • Nord Corridor & South Campus Area: Wednesday, September 23rd, 7:30 - 8:30 p.m., Azad's Martial Arts Family Center, 313 Walnut Street, Chico.
  • Park Avenue Corridor & Surrounding Areas: Thursday, October 22nd, 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. at Chico Country Day Middle School Common Area, 1054 Broadway.
  • Downtown Chico: Tuesday, November 17th, 9 - 10 a.m. in the Old Municipal Building conference room, 441 Main Street. 
  • Safety meetings are planned for the Rio Lindo Area and Chico Airport in the immediate future. Additional meetings will be hosted throughout business districts in Chico in 2016.
If you wish to host a meeting at your business, please let me know!

In other news, we're dedicating the entire month of October to generating member awareness and feedback!  We'll be releasing a month-long survey asking for your input on what the Chamber of the future looks like. With the roll out of our Community Vision last month, it's time to build our Chamber Vision together. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

At our recent Lunch Hour with the Mayor, Mark Sorensen met with our members to talk about the state of the City. After approving a $109.7 million dollar budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the Mayor says the City is bouncing back far more quickly than anticipated, but the initial 10-year projected recovery time is still accurate when we consider building back reserves and having the flexibility to proactively invest in our community.
New Police Chief Michael O'Brien, who attended our June Board meeting, says his department will refocus on addressing top complaints in the community which center around "quality of life" crimes that erode residential and business confidence. His department, he says, is on the rebound after officer numbers bottomed out earlier this year. Things, it seems, are finally looking up for the City after a long and arduous journey from near insolvency a few years ago, but the City still has work to do, as the Mayor cautions. Businesses, on the other hand, are thriving like those we visited on our Team Chico Business Walks on June 24th, see below. 
One business reported hitting record sales numbers month after month which has led to more jobs and possible expansion plans. You've heard us say that everything you see is a result of a successful business, and this is precisely why.

If you were born between 1980 and the early 2000s please take our 3-minuteMillennial Survey, or forward it to the millennials in your life!  The results of this survey will offer us a rare sneak peek into the future of our community.  Thank you for helping us reach our goal of 500 responses!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Millennials - who are they and what do they want? I'm kidding, but much of the talk around our office over the last few months has been centered around these two questions. As you likely know, millennials were born between 1980 and the early 2000s, and they are shaking things up in the business world and in our workplaces. Even the White House published a study called 15 Economic Facts About Millennials in 2014. And you know how it goes: once you pay attention to something, it starts popping up has been the case with our focus on Millennials. Later this month, to help us understand how to do business with and for these technological trailblazers - called "technology natives" by many major corporations - our Chico Young Professionals Organization will be circulating a Millennial Survey to begin scoping out this information in Chico. With a goal of 500 responses, the survey will be open to the public and we're hoping you will encourage all millennials in your local circle to take it. With this information, we will not only better understand what the "Voice of Millennials" in Chico sounds like, but we will be better equipped to consider their expectations as we finalize the community vision plan Mark refers to in his message below.

Last Friday, I said goodbye to our Air Service Development Manager after coordinating 3 days of meetings for him with local businesses and entities. His intent on this first trip was to gather information on what kind of airline service Chico might be able to sustain. I don't have any details to share just yet as his meetings with the airlines begin this month, but as soon as I know what direction we're heading, I'll let you know!

With that, I'll see you on the 11th at Patrick Ranch for the anniversary celebration of the year. We love Italian Cottage!

Monday, May 4, 2015

This week, AvPORTS, the company hired to develop a long-term business plan for the Chico Municipal Airport made their first public visit to Chico. Back in March, it was our recommendation to the City Council that an Airport Manager or firm be hired if restoring commercial air service is a community priority - which, in so many ways, it is. But, there is more to AvPORTS' work than attracting an air carrier to our city. To dive into the details about business development plans, infrastructure improvements, and, yes, what commercial carriers are saying about Chico, we had the opportunity to participate in a stakeholders meeting with their CEO. We spent some time talking about what makes the Chico air field unique and the benefits of such a diversified business mix currently located at the airport. The good news is: AvPORTS sees a great deal of potential for the Chico Municipal Airport. The work lies in maintaining a general willingness to tolerate and adapt to new standards, developing adequate incentives for the airline attraction strategy, and ultimately centralizing our marketing efforts to brand Chico as a regional travel hub. This is just the beginning of the City's formal relationship with AvPORTS but I, for one, am very invested in ensuring the business voice is heard in each and every discussion.

Speaking of travel, Chico will soon host tens of thousands of parents and visitors who will be dining, shopping, lodging, and recreating in our fair city. Graduation weekend is great for business! Enjoy the smiling faces of the many proud family members and friends who helped Chico State and Butte College turn students into graduates. It's a great month to celebrate their accomplishments and to give their guests a red-carpet experience that they'll never forget.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Last Friday, I was working away at my computer when congratulations started to roll in via email. Wondering what I'd done to deserve the accolades, I looked closer and realized LinkedIn was celebrating my 3-year anniversary at the helm of the Chamber. Wow, time has flown by! I paused to reflect on these past 3 years and consider where we are now given what we - all of us - have endured. The outlook in 2011 was very shaky and we were starting to see our public resources dry up without any indication of recovery. The landscape was changing right before our very eyes and we didn't have a roadmap. Now, in 2015, strengthened by the partnerships and efficiencies that have sprung up from our collective scarcity, we are lifting our heads to look toward the horizon. We're asking: what's next? Where will we be in 2018? I can guarantee we'll have made progress on our top business climate priorities and you will see a more robust local government serving Chico. In the meantime, it's up to us to create the roadmap for our own success as a community in the years to come. If we have the creativity and innovative spirit to survive with so little, we certainly have the capability to thrive. On that note, take a look at Mark's article below and tell us what you think. Where will Chico be in 5-10 years? You decide. - Katie Simmons, President & CEO, Chico Chamber of Commerce

Chairman's Report
If I were King/Queen  . . . .

Haven't we all thought about that at one time or another when we see something locally that just isn't right?   Here's one of my favorite examples... "If I were King, Chico High wouldn't be playing football on Pleasant Valley's field."  No kidding!

We are embarking on a project with the Chamber Board to identify some of those "If I were King/Queen" long term projects or programs that are necessary for our community's health, pride and well being.  We want to circle four or five and have them on a list that the business community helps push forward.  Not only to shine the light on the projects, but to lend our support in making them happen.

What would you do here in Chico if you were King/Queen?  Email me your ideas at

Please remember that showing up is one of the most important things we can do as Chamber members!  See you at the next event!

Mark Francis, Chair of the Board, Golden Valley Bank

Monday, March 2, 2015

I recently had an opportunity to attend a presentation by the Disney Institute. I learned that in 60 years of operation, the same three survey questions have returned the same three responses from Disneyland guests. Surveyors ask: 1) Why do you come? 2) Why do you come back? And 3) Why do you tell your friends and family to come? Guests respond: 1) Cleanliness, 2) Friendliness, and 3) Safety. Amazingly, despite all the magical bells and whistles of "The Happiest Place on Earth," people visit the park for very basic reasons. Our speaker shared that the Disney philosophy is to "over-manage" the details that are often overlooked such as the distance between trash cans (26 paces in their case), the consistency of lighting (all light-bulbs are changed out at 85% of the manufacturer's recommended duration), the appearance of their lawns (replaced every 42 days), and the genuine friendly spirit of their "cast members," aka staff. "Perfection is something you can feel," said our speaker, "not necessarily see." I took this information to my leadership team and we talked about how Disney's priorities mirror some of our own. We want Chico to shine, to feel enduringly safe, and to be seen as a smiling, happy community. We want visitors, potential residents and business owners, and residents to sense these things about Chico intuitively. What is the role of the Chamber in ensuring that we are clean, friendly, and safe? Our priorities, set by our members, help us address concerns that threaten the health and vitality of our businesses which, in turn, fund the public services that allow us to enjoy such a high quality of life in Chico. We are all responsible for making sure that our guests, whether they are here for four hours or for a lifetime, have a sense of perfection about this place. Chico is special and we all know it. I hope that our work continues to demonstrate how invested we are in keeping it so.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

February is upon us - how did that happen? January was a big, busy blur filled with events and programs that kicked off 2015 with a bang. We hosted our 77th Annual Dinner on January 15th, honoring the men and women who have made an indelible impact on our community. Fred Davis received our first ever Legacy Award for the decades he dedicated to the City and our community. Mayor Mark Sorensen received our J. Pat Lappin Award, Audrey Taylor received our Jeanne Posey Award, Scott Gruendl was our 2014 Community Service Award recipient, and BT Chapman was chosen as our Business Advocate of the Year.

Mark Francis was recognized with our Chairman's Award, Anne Johnson was our 2014 Ambassador of the Year and Danie Schwartz was recognized as our Young Professional of the Year. It was an honor to acknowledge these recipients for their tireless efforts to make Chico the dynamic community it is.  
Our Business Summit & State of the City Address provided us with a positive outlook for the year. The Mayor decreased the projected 10-year recovery timeline for the City saying that we will see technological improvements and incremental staffing growth this year. Mark Francis, our new Chairman, shared the Chico Economic Index demonstrating higher notes of optimism in all economic indicators. While the economic forecast even a year ago looked "cloudy with a chance of sunshine," I think we're looking at "sunny with a chance of clouds" for 2015. While that's our local economic outlook, I sure wish our real forecast would predict unending rain and snow for several weeks. Then we'd really have a lot to celebrate. Have a great month!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A new year is all about new beginnings and this rings true for the Chico Chamber. We are pleased to welcome Mark Francis, President & CEO of Golden Valley Bank, to the helm as Chairman of our Board. Mark will continue a long-standing tradition of solid leadership on our Board of Directors. We also welcome new Directors: Terra Ayers with FAFCO, Inc.; Ryan Arnold with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Angela Casler with Sustainability Management Consulting; Crystal Torres with Recology Butte Colusa Counties; Shaunna Jones with Milestone Technologies, Inc.; Mark Pierce with North Valley Ag Services; and Danie Schwartz with LRT Graphics. Welcome to our team and thank you for your commitment to being the 'Voice of Business' in Chico. I'd also like to thank Toni Scott with Morrison & Company for agreeing to Chair our Legislative Action Committee in 2015. Watch this newsletter for future news on the issues we're tackling this year.

I hope to see you at our Annual Dinner on January 15th and Business Summit & State of the City Address on January 21st!