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SCV Chamber hires lobbyist

Lobbyist ready to work on enterprise zone, other issues of interest to local businesses

Posted: February 10, 2010 10:35 p.m.
Updated: February 11, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
For the first time, the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce has hired a lobbyist to represent area business interests at the local, state and federal level.

Damian Jones has 15 years of experience in the field, including a stint as The Home Depot's government relations senior manager. His firm, Pacific Strategy Group, represents about 350 clients in 17 offices across the nation.

One of the first issues Jones will tackle is securing Santa Clarita's enterprise zone. A bill is making its way through the state Legislature that would make eligibility for the lucrative tax breaks - up to $37,000 for one employee over five years - harder to get.

Chamber President John Shaffery said the enterprise zone, enacted in 2007, is "of high concern."

"(We recently) held a forum for existing business owners asking them what were the benefits of doing business in the Santa Clarita Valley, and the No. 1 answer was availability of the enterprise zone," he said. "Real dollars are being saved, it's improving our economy, and people are trying to ... minimize their impact."

Jones will also use technology to reach out to members, including a possible advocacy portal at the chamber's Web site. Jones said it should be easy for people trying to run businesses every day to contact politicians and make their voices heard.

He said he welcomed the chance to represent a community that's widely recognized for being business friendly.

"We need to continue as a chamber to maintain that status," Jones said.

The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce represents about 1,200 businesses.

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