• Moving Forward While Staying Home: Chamber Continues Partnerships, Advocacy and Outreach During Pandemic

    While we may have (until recently) been under a Stay at Home Order, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber has continued their forward momentum in supporting local businesses and planning for the coming year.

    Our partnerships locally and throughout the Central Coast region continue to play a critical role in advocating for our business community. Recently, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber partnered with the other Chambers in Santa Barbara County to launch the “Safe Return to Work Campaign”, advocating that businesses should be allowed to open and operate safely while following COVID health and safety protocols.

    “The campaign was a collaborative effort that came out of discussions with local businesses across the county who were frustrated at the lack of attention paid to the economic impact local business closures are having on our community,” explained Glenn Morris, President/CEO of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce. “The campaign argues that the data does not support the Stay at Home Order we were under at the time, and that we can keep people safe while operating businesses safely at the same time.”

    In addition to a PR campaign, the Chambers also created a Resolution to Support Safe Business Operations, which was adopted by Santa Maria City Council at their January 19th meeting. “We applaud our City Council for supporting this effort, and look forward to seeing City Councils in our sister cities join us in supporting all businesses,” Morris said.

    The Santa Maria Valley Chamber has also remained active in their partnership with REACH, a Regional Economic Action Coalition uniting public, private and civic leaders across the Central Coast of California. REACH recently developed community landing pages and a data tool that provides valuable insight into community metrics including workforce, jobs, housing and more.

    Sally Buffalo, Communications Director for REACH, says the community pages and data center tools are the first step for REACH in building a bottom-up regional brand that leverages the strengths and opportunities offered by each of the Central Coast’s many communities.

    “Between the data center and community pages, we now have a comprehensive view of the region’s assets and resources but also a spotlight on each community’s distinct character and advantages. Viewed collectively, this landscape boosts the region’s ability to compete for business opportunities and job growth,” Buffalo said.

    “The wealth and granularity of data available in this resource puts valuable business intelligence at the fingertips of both existing local companies and businesses considering a move or expansion, allowing them to make location, market and other decisions informed by hard data,” explained Buffalo. “While the data center is available for anyone to use, it really supercharges the regional partnership’s ability to work together in attracting new investment, marketing the region and supporting businesses.”

    Santa Maria’s REACH community page can be found at reachcentralcoast.org/santa-maria/.

    In order to maximize our effectiveness in terms of legislative advocacy and to provide collaborative programming, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber continues to play a leadership role in the Tri-County Chamber Alliance (San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties). The alliance recently offered programming from the U.S Chamber of Commerce on how businesses can combat the opioid crisis. “Our partnership with the alliance allows us to pool our resources and bring high level programming to our communities,” Morris said. “The recent opioid crisis webinar is a perfect example on how we can partner and bring this valuable and important information to all businesses in our region at once.” The Alliance is finalizing its legislative priority guidelines for the 2021 session and will begin tracking bills proposed in Sacramento as the session gets fully underway.

    Locally, the Chamber continues to find creative ways to support local business. The Santa Maria Valley Visitors Bureau recently launched “The Great Santa Maria Valley Takeout” campaign to highlight local restaurants during restaurant month. Santa Maria Valley wineries, breweries and restaurants offered specials the week of January 22- January 31st, and community members were encouraged to dine local and submit photos of their takeout to a selfie contest for a chance to win a local staycation.

    “The Great Santa Maria Valley Takeout was our way to still bring a fun and engaging promotion to our community during Restaurant Month,” explained Yarely Corona, Social Media & Marketing Coordinator for the Chamber and Visitors Bureau. “It has been a great boost for our local restaurants, and community members have been able to safely support these local businesses.” Corona said the selfie contest has also been a huge hit, with over 100 locals participating. “It’s really encouraging to see so much community support for an industry that has taken a huge hit during the pandemic.”

    As we come out of the Regional Stay at Home Order and move back into the Purple Tier, adaptability remains a constant for the Chamber and our local businesses. The Chamber will continue to be a trusted resource of information for our community, providing timely updates on reopenings, financial assistance, networking opportunities and other valuable information for your business. If you have specific needs, please reach out through our business assistance form (LINK) and we will connect with you.

    “With a new year, our organization continues to support local businesses and seek meaningful ways to engage with our community,” Morris said. “Through our regional partnerships, advocacy efforts and targeted programming, we will continue to help our community through this challenging time.”