|This building will still be active under the new combined chamber of commerce.|
A: It really doesn't matter to the residents here.
How do I know it?
I've been a member of the Chamber for the better part of the last three years, and sadly, there hasn't been the type of grassroots participation that I'd expect to see if I had a brick & mortar type of business looking to expand its bottom line.
The yearly dues were reasonable, but I didn't really see any advantages from belonging to the Chamber (from a business perspective) as the years have gone by.
Don't get me wrong, the handful of regulars that did attend the monthly breakfasts, mixers and ribbon cuttings are great people and fun to chat up.
Thing is, a high percentage of those people are the ones that are seen doing the heavy lifting in other organizations throughout the city too, and it's been quite obvious while I've been around that the load had been taking its toll.
In other words, more locals need to start stepping up into leadership positions if they want this community to thrive.
Looks like it'll be time to roll out some new promotional videos shortly.
The video below was produced in Spring of 2015.
The video below was produced in Spring of 2015.
A Chamber of Commerce is first and foremost an institution that allows for networking among local businesses.
Second, it's part of the face of the community it serves.
If membership isn't high enough, it's reasonable for a local business to forego joining, which only lends to the downward spiral that convinces others to not join or re-sign when their dues are up.
In the short time I've been a member I've seen the monthly Wake Up Wildomar breakfasts go from Denny's to The Landing Zone over to Tacos Tijuana then to The Corporate Room and now... I don't know where they are. Last I heard, they were going to be at the VFW.
With each move that was made, the number of the usual attendees continued to diminish. At one point breakfast at Denny's would bring in more than 30 people, sometimes closer to 50 and the breakfast at that time cost $12 for members.
By the time it was being held at The Corporate Room, the usual attendance didn't even hit 20 people, even though the cost of breakfast had been reduced down to $10 for members.
How can you switch venues, arguably to a better meeting place with a lower cost, and STILL see attendance flagging?
I'm sure that there could be many opinions regarding the whys of it all, and the Chamber has long sought ways to bring back interest, but obviously to no avail.
The chatter about a possible merger had been swirling around for many months. In fact, I thought it had already been decided upon back in Summer, but it hadn't until the last board of directors meeting, which was Monday, October 23rd.
I was one of three non board members to attend. The other two were former city councilmember Bob Cashman, and long time resident Casey (not sure of his last name).
We all made our opinions known during the public comments portion of the meeting. Essentially there were two prevailing points of view that I observed.
The first was from the "Wildomar is its own community" contingent. The other "Yeah, but this is about building business networks" side of things.
If the chamber were just another social/service club then I'd completely side with group A. However, the premise of a Chamber of Commerce is to find ways for its members' businesses to grow... not just have breakfast together once a month.
Had the chamber stood pat, and not done something to show its business members that they are trying to fulfill their mission, I'd have not re-signed as a member. It just didn't make business sense trying to justify the dues that didn't increase the flow of traffic.
The only real issue I had with the meeting was that it was a closed door meeting once the public comments were taken.
Not open to the public, and not open to general members either. Often times a closed session makes sense, but what was going to come of allowing the three old guys to stay and watch?
However, since there was the threat of litigation, from more than one person, I can see why the board would seek to make that effort a little more obstacle laden.
After the meeting I was apprised that the vote was 6-2 in favor of the merge with George Cambero and Tim Underdown voting in the minority.
The merge will take place November 1st.
I started this blog by asking, "Why might this matter to the average Wildotuckian?" and the answer is still the same. It really doesn't unless you are directly connected to it.
A handout entitled EXHIBIT "A" was given to those in attendance of the board of directors meeting. I found several parts worth highlighting.
Apparently there was chatter among some that were ardently opposed to this merger, proposing to start another Wildomar Chamber of Commerce.
I get why the merged chamber wouldn't want that, but let's look at that closer for a second. The existing chamber all but failed, and was on its way to completely failing (that's the only legitimate reason to merge in my view... which happens to feel more like being swallowed up by a larger group to me... but I digress), and without intervention, it was going to go down the tubes.
Imagine the undertaking necessary to create a new Wildomar Chamber of Commerce, and without any of the existing businesses or executive board members. Who would run it? Who would join it? The answer is NO ONE.
Certainly no where close to the current number of members, which isn't all that impressive if you're expecting excellence from your business dollars.
If it had been up to me, I would have allowed the name to be used by the hangers on that wanted to dig in their heels as a realities title wave crested overhead.
What's the worst that would have happened?
I see two eventualities.
A) They would bomb out (100% chance) or B) they would be successful (0% chance). I guess there is room for some middle ground here, but a new chamber run by the old guard would have been about as viable an organization as the Historical Society or the group that claims leadership over the trails in this town.
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Though the aforementioned organizations serve Wildomar in their own ways, they don't levy taxes on us, and if you're not an active part of them they could completely go away and most people wouldn't notice.
They aren't on the same plane as the city council, the school board, the water board (or the like) that actually do affect all the people in their areas.
It'll be interesting to see how many current members are maintained by the new super chamber and if they can grow their Wildomar based numbers beyond what they've been. I'm still on the fence about it.
The costs to be a member of the Murrieta Chamber are more than double what they are in the old Wildomar Chamber so an increase in business would be a must to be part of it.
Below are some links with differing POVs on the value of a Chamber of Commerce in today's world.
American Express article: Have Chambers of Commerce Jumped the Shark?
Daily Herald article: 6 reasons why businesses should join a local chamber of commerce
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