Published August 22, 2000
Volume 8, Number 8

Local Business Organizations Offer Assistance to Businesses of All Shapes and Sizes

By Denise Howe
Special to Hacienda Network

Whether you're interested in simply growing your business or seek to participate in the creation of regional economic policies, there are a number of local organizations devoted to helping you meet your business goals. 

The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Alliance for Business, Tri-Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Tri-Valley Business Council each provide important and unique services to members, many of whom participate in several of the groups. They all offer unique benefits: 

Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce
With offices in the historic downtown, the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce serves a number of functions in the community. The Chamber acts as a local advocate for business, acting on the business communities behalf on many issues. The organization provides networking and promotional opportunities for members and also helps shape the future of Pleasanton by providing input on public policy and important economic development issues. 
Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce
The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce stands out among business organizations.

"We have collaborations with government, education and private industry to strengthen local businesses, and develop jobs in the community," says David Bouchard, Chamber CEO. "Members have direct influence on local public policy. We feel it is very important that we represent business on a local level in that way. We have over 1,000 members that employ over 40,000 people, and our members actively work to enhance the quality of life in Pleasanton." The chamber offers a variety of opportunities for member involvement. Some of the Chamber's most important programs revolve around committees such as Economic Development, Government Relations, Ambassadors, Events and Activities, Leadership Pleasanton and the Chamber television program. 

A key member benefit is referrals. The chamber receives dozens of calls daily asking for information and business referrals to members. Another source of publicity is the Chamber newsletter, the Pleasanton Business Connection, which features several stories on members each issue.

Members can meet other business owners and employees at the many social and networking events and use the opportunity to promote their businesses one-to-one. Monthly mixers at various member businesses and monthly luncheons with informative speakers on timely issues are an excellent time to network. The Chamber also sponsors seminars and trade shows, an annual dinner, community awards, a golf tournament, and barbecues. 

Another Chamber event showcases the area's high tech companies. The Technology Marketplace provides an opportunity for local tech businesses to showcase their products to an important audience of major companies in the Tri-Valley. It is well-attended and publicized. 

The Chamber provides training in civic leadership as well. The Leadership Pleasanton program meets monthly for comprehensive seminars on government, the school district, media, and business, all presented by experts. 

The Chamber also has a television show, Pleasanton Business Today, on Channel 30. Member businesses are often profiled on the show, which is the only one to cover local businesses in this manner. 

Members and employees are also entitled to money-saving discounts and to enroll in group medical insurance plans. The chamber also distributes a full-color member directory which is published online at www.pleasanton.org. 

Become a member by signing up on the website or call Demaree DePiano, membership services coordinator at (925) 846-5858. Their address is 777 Peters Avenue. 

Tri-Valley Business Council
More than 95 businesses are members of the Tri-Valley Business Council and work together to improve the region's quality of life and economic vitality through personal involvement and private sector perspective. 

The TVBC is comprised of members from Pleasanton, Livermore, Danville San Ramon, and Dublin, and has created and continues to sponsor unique valley endeavors. 
Tri-Valley Business Council
Tom O'Malley heads up the Tri-Valley Business Council. 

Tom O'Malley, the executive director, believes that the TVBC gives businesses an important voice in local issues. "It's very important to bring voices of businesses into public policy issues on the local, state and federal levels. We give businesses a voice in the way things are happening and also in the resolution of issues. So many issues affect employers and employees. It's important for businesses to join to continue improving the economic vitality on a regional basis." The Tri-Valley Business Council's most recent project was the completion of the of Vision 2010, a comprehensive plan for the Tri-Valley region encompassing land use, development, education, transportation and agriculture. The plan, which was detailed in the April issue of Hacienda Network, will go to the voters in November. 

The TVBC is also in the process of creating the Tri-Valley Technology Enterprise Center, a business incubator for small, technology-based businesses in the Tri-Valley. At the Center, start-up owners will have a place to receive information, tools and resources for creating and developing a successful business. O'Malley said that a director has been hired and many start-up companies have expressed an interest in the center. The TVBC is currently looking for a facility to house the Center. 

The Council also sponsored the Fourth Annual Tri-Valley Science and Engineering Fair at Blackhawk Plaza in April. A competition for students in grades 7-12 from public schools within the area of Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, San Ramon and Sunol, the event was affiliated with the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The goal was to motivate students to pursue their interest in science and engineering and to support teachers in encouraging their students. 

For information call Tom O'Malley at (925) 890-1892 or visit trivalley.org

Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau
Another potential business opportunity is membership in the Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, which represents Pleasanton, Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin. 

"We love the area and we package the Tri-Valley as a destination spot," says executive director Lisa Dial. "Last year the four cities generated $6.2 million just in transient occupancy taxes, bed taxes, from visitors who spent money here. That doesn't even count the amount of sales tax that is generated which goes to the cities."
The staff of the Tri-Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau knows how
local businesses can benefit from tourism.

The CVB, located on Main Street in Pleasanton, brings large groups of visitors to the Tri-Valley. Tourism is a huge industry and one that the Tri-Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau aggressively pursues on behalf of its members, whether they are part of the visitor industry themselves or simply do business with industry members. The CVB actively generates and tracks leads in several markets to bring large visitor groups from all over the world into the Tri-Valley area. When the people arrive in the beautiful valley, the CVB is ready with information about accommodations, restaurants, shopping, services, transportation, attractions, and a calendar of events. 

Another aspect to the CVB is The Film Commission. There is money in films, and not just for the companies that produce them. The Film Commission has been busy facilitating commercial and film requests in the Tri-Valley. Alison Levelis, film commissioner, attended the Cannes Film Festival 2000 to market the Tri-Valley area for on-location productions. That translates directly into dollars for CVB members and the entire area as film crews use local goods and services.

The CVB develops and maintains consistent communication with council members in the four cities to keep them informed and enthusiastic about the economic contribution of the visitor industry. 

The CVB is a friendly place for visitors. Member businesses are actively promoted and, most importantly, by a staff that enjoys taking time to answer visitors' questions and help them enjoy their stay. 

Members may attend the CVB hospitality events, annual membership luncheon, mixers and special events. 

Another benefit is a free listing on the organization's web site, where inquiries have tripled from last year. Information about your business may be used in press releases, travel articles and other promotional venues. 

The CVB also produces the Tri-Valley Visitors Guide, packed with color photos and visitor information. It's the official handbook distributed at trade shows and to the thousands of visitors who come to Pleasanton each year. It is filled with recommendations for accommodations, sight-seeing, restaurants, hotels, catering, golf, galleries, and has a monthly calendar of events for Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and San Ramon. 

TVCVB members also receive listings in brochures that are liberally distributed to visitors about wine tasting, shopping, and dining, along with detailed maps and a destination brochure. The goal is always to serve members and visitors. 

The Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau is located at 260 Main St. Contact Lisa Dial, executive director, or Laura Gilpin, membership and events, at (925) 846-8910, or laura@trivalleycvb.com. The group's web site is located at www.trivalleycvb.com

Economic Development Alliance for Business
In 1990 Alameda County established the Countywide Economic Development Alliance for Business (EDAB) based in Oakland. It's composed of a healthy cross section of the community including business, public utilities, educational institutions, media, labor, environmentalists, and public officials. The program's principal focus is on business investment and retention, regulatory coordination, networking, and science and technology. The program has been lauded as the most successful program of its kind by the Governor's Council on California Competitiveness.

In 1996, EDAB's service area was increased at the request of Contra Costa County and several of its cities are now also members. 
Bruce Kern is the executive director of EDAB. 

Darien Louie, member services director, says that the organization is a unique private and public partnership. "We have approximately 500 members representing over 200 organizations. Members join and work together on economic strategies for the area. They also enjoy networking. Members are active on committees, very involved, and that makes the organization quite strong." Over 60 percent of members are businesses. 

EDAB is also effective because a large number of the businesses and economic development organizations in the region work together to enhance the competitive economic position of the county and its 14 member municipalities. 

Enhancing business activity and supporting business owners are important at EDAB. The organization has been instrumental in establishing regional resources such as the Alameda County Center for Environmental Technologies that promotes environment technology through innovative financing and commercialization; the Corporation for Manufacturing Excellence, which assists manufacturing competitiveness; and the Bay Area Regional Technology Alliance that promotes the growth of knowledge-intensive industries and links them research institutions. 

EDAB also sponsors the Greater Oakland International Trade Center, a one-stop center for international trade assistance, market information, trade leads, financing, and trade missions and shows. 

Other groups include the Northern California Minority Business Opportunity Committee, which works to enhance small and disadvantaged businesses opportunities for public and private sector procurement and contracts. EDAB's Bay Area Industry Education Council works with businesses to create partnerships that provide educational opportunities for youth.

One of the most valuable reasons to be a member is the opportunity to actively participate in shaping local government's business policies. Members attend guest speaker events and roundtable breakfasts on current business topics. There are opportunities to meet and talk with your federal, state and local legislative representatives. Members can also make site visits to successful businesses.

EDAB offers a membership directory and quarterly general membership meetings. A monthly newsletter and "hot faxes" of important economic development news for the area round out their communications program.

For information, call Darien Louie, membership services director, (510) 272-6843. 1221 Oak St., Suite 555, Oakland. EDAB's general phone is (510) 272-3832. Executive director Bruce Kern may be reached at (510) 272-3874.


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