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Chamber membership down

Strong finances allow chamber to create new position

Posted: September 11, 2008 10:30 p.m.
Updated: November 13, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The local chamber's membership declined from 2007 but the numbers are still "strong," said Charles Gill, chairman of the board for the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Speaking Thursday to a crowd of dozens of the Santa Clarita Valley's business leaders at the Hyatt Valencia, Gill said Operation Chamber Membership, the organization's annual membership drive, will boost membership numbers.

Gill briefed members on the "state of the chamber" and offered advice to struggling companies during the business networking organization's quarterly luncheon.

Internally, the chamber's finances are strong and allowed the chamber to create the new position of vice president of finance and administration, currently held by Lisa Baker, he said.

The chamber installed Dana Cop, director of external affairs for AT&T; and Dena Maloney, founding dean for the College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus as directors. They begin their three-year terms on Jan. 1, 2009.

The chamber recently introduced a new monthly program called "Chamber Works" through a partnership with the Small Business Development Center and College of the Canyons.

Each month, the chamber sponsors a seminar that discusses ways to improve business, whether it's by understanding legal issues or developing marketing plans.

At the beginning of the year, the chamber established four goals that involved increasing member services, promoting the use of technology and chamber committees and improving the day-to-day functions of the chamber, Gill said.

So far, the chamber met all four of their goals in one way or another, but Gill said there is still room for growth.

"We haven't completed all of them," he said.

Along with briefing the members on the chamber's progress over the last year, Gill gave tips to the business community to help them get through the sluggish economy.

By giving away dollar bills that had been taped underneath the chairs of attendees, Gill said members should be prepared for any opportunities that come their way.

"Sometimes you just need to look and take the opportunity," he said.

Other ways businesses can push through the economy include revisiting a business plan, diversifying the company's services and keeping in touch with customers.

"Talk to customers and listen to them," he said. "You need to sell what a customer wants to buy."

Gill recommended owners focus on promoting their businesses more through marketing and advertising to "get your message out" during a slow economy.

A final piece of advice involved using employees to build the business.

"Listen to them," he said, adding that they work with the products the company offers every day.


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