• Chamber a Catalyst in Building a Regional Economy that Works

    For individuals and businesses, the region is the functional unit in which they live and operate.   Many of us wake up in one city, work in another, and dine, shop and play in many.   We regularly drive across city and county borders without a thought or a care.  Our businesses serve marketplaces, both large and small, that depend upon suppliers, workers and customers who rarely reside in a single jurisdiction.  Other challenging issues, such as greenhouse gas emissions to homelessness, have no regard for traditional jurisdictional boundaries. 

    Too often, economic development efforts pit communities against each other, driven by a philosophy of scarcity and competition, resulting in an environment where communities are fighting one another for the biggest slice of the pie.  Regional collaboration invites communities to collaborate in a philosophy of abundance where the focus is not on fighting for a bigger slice of the pie, but working together to create a bigger pie. 

    Collaborating regionally is the key to nurturing a more effective and balanced economy.  This approach recognizes and addresses the fact that political jurisdictions overlap and even conflict with each other, missing better possible outcomes for all.  Strategic collaboration gets beyond individual jurisdictions, allowing multiple communities to effectively leverage their collective assets, overcome individual shortcomings, and achieve economic growth in ways not possible by acting alone or at cross purposes.  

    A number of years ago, the Chamber identified the importance of creating regional partnerships as a key strategy to maximize our effectiveness in business attraction and retention and advocacy work.    Our volunteer leadership directed us to find ways to work more intentionally with neighbors both to the north and south of Santa Maria.    Since that time, we have made important connections that are changing how we work on behalf of our businesses and our community.

    REACH (Hourglass Project)
    REACH (Regional Economic Action Coalition) is a regional collaborative focused on creating economic vitality on the Central Coast.   Early initiatives include efforts to create a master plan for expanding commercial space activity at Vandenberg Air Force Base, coordinate regional responses to business retention needs, and impact the decision making around decommissioning and re-use of Diablo Canyon.   The Santa Maria Valley and Northern Santa Barbara County currently have three representatives serving the Board of REACH including Sue Andersen of Marian Regional Medical Center, Tony Guy with Safran Cabins, and Glenn Morris with the Chamber.   Ron Cortopassi, executive director of the 30th Space Wing is also an adviser to the organization.

    CalPoly President’s Local Economic Development Council
    The LEDC is a gathering of business and community leaders from across our region who provide insight and advice to CalPoly and President Armstrong on initiatives where the University can have a significant impact on the regional economy.    Chamber staff and volunteer leaders have been able to leverage our membership on the Council to share information about our community with a wider audience and participate in conversations about business retention and attraction, supporting businesses in recruiting high value employees, and a number of other areas of importance to our businesses.

    EconAlliance of Northern Santa Barbara County
    EconAlliance is a cross-industry alliance promoting economic vitality for communities in Northern Santa Barbara County through initiatives designed to support and highlight key industry sectors.    The Chamber is an active member and supporter of the Alliance and regularly partners on events and other programs.

    Central Coast Tourism Council
    The Central Coast Tourism Council is an organization of tourism and hospitality organizations which promotes the entire California Central Coast as a destination to maximize our members’ tourism industry.  CCTC serves as the Central Coast’s voice in Sacramento, and partners with California Tourism’s global marketing and advertising campaigns.   The Chamber is an active member and leader in this organization, ensuring that the Santa Maria Valley is well represented in the collective marketing efforts.

    Chamber Alliance of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties
    The Alliance includes ten Chambers across our two counties who work to impact legislation in Sacramento on behalf of Central Coast businesses.   The Alliance retains a lobbyist who alerts us to critical legislation and help us speak out to share the business perspective with elected leaders.

    Central Coast Chamber Coalition
    The Coalition includes eleven Chambers in Northern Santa Barbara and SLO Counties.    This partnership is focused on finding ways for our communities to collaborate to support business growth, retain businesses, and share best practices.   The Coalition is now the organizer of the Central Coast Business Symposium, held each year in June.

    Workforce Development Board of Santa Barbara County
    The Workforce Development Board’s charge is to oversee the investment of Federal Workforce Investment Act resources in the county.   Chamber staff and volunteer leaders serve on this board and help guide the coordination of efforts to ensure a quality workforce for local businesses.

    The Chamber’s efforts to convene and support regional partnerships help us bring more voices to the table to address shared issues, see the bigger picture around policy concerns, expand our network of influencers and partners, and leverage our resources to deliver results for our community.