Published October 19, 2010
Volume 18, Number 10

Local and Regional Business Organizations Work Hard and Smart to Increase Member Success   

The interdependence between thriving communities and thriving businesses has been well documented. The Tri-Valley is fortunate to have several local and regional organizations which put that principle in action, whether through advocacy, business development, or networking. The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, Pleasanton Downtown Association, Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, Tri-Valley Business Council, East Bay Economic Development Alliance, and the Bay Area Council all work hard to help businesses operate more efficiently and expand their opportunities for success.

The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce
The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce is a business organization with a community focus. “A strong local economy and a thriving business community benefit everyone,” remarks Scott Raty, who as President and CEO channels the interests of the organization's more than 800 member firms. While there is great diversity in this constituency, “all have the great community of Pleasanton in common.”

The Chamber takes its responsibility to support Pleasanton's quality of life and business climate seriously. In 2008 it joined the City in creating Pleasanton 2015: A Community Vision, a document setting forth 48 measurable objectives that give the community value. Key stakeholders shared their expertise to answer one central question: “In the year 2015, how will you reflect on the past seven years and measure success toward a better Pleasanton?” The resulting objectives span a range of seven categories: Arts, Culture, & Recreation; Education; Health & Human Services; Housing; Local Economy; Public Safety; and Transportation.

The Chamber just completed a comprehensive review of the progress toward all objectives. While “the economic landscape is dramatically different today” than on the initiative's inception, the report concludes that “Pleasanton continues to move forward, weathering the economic storm better than many other cities.” Still, developing new jobs and growing the tax base are essential “to sustain our high standards for public health, safety, and community amenities.”

Fully achieved objectives include the opening of the Firehouse Arts Center and the Alviso Adobe Interpretive Center, a fully implemented Youth Master Plan, Bernal Phase I Sports Fields, and a Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan. Progress in the Transportation category includes the new HOV/HOT lanes and auxiliary lanes on I-580 and the SB HOT lanes on I-680 from Sunol to Milpitas. The full progress report can be accessed from the Chamber's website.

The Chamber continues to host monthly Pleasanton 2015 Forums focusing on specific elements of the Community Vision. Open to the public, the forums are held from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Chamber offices, 777 Peters Avenue. Check www.pleasanton.org for forum details or call 925- 846-5858.

Pleasanton Downtown Association
The 560-plus businesses that populate Downtown Pleasanton help to keep this special area a charming and welcoming destination. Created in 1984, the non-profit Pleasanton Downtown Association (PDA) operates as an assessment district with the goal of developing and promoting the district's vibrancy and appeal. Funding comes from member assessments, matching city funds, sponsorships, and revenue-generating events.

The PDA produces over 25 events each year. The First Wednesday parties, held May through September, have drawn as many as 20,000 visitors in a single evening and boast almost 200 vendors, a beer and wine garden, and several live music venues. From June to September the Friday Night Concerts in the Park are a Pleasanton fixture, having been in existence for more than 30 years. Two Wine Strolls and multiple holiday events also fill the agenda. The latest downtown venue, the Firehouse Arts Center, now accommodates live entertainment, gallery space, and a grand lobby for receptions and special occasions.

Visitors to the PDA web site will find “What’s Up Downtown,” the monthly calendar of events; an online business directory with over 725 entries (also distributed in print throughout the valley); information about committees and volunteer opportunities; an electronic walking tour guide; a yearly event schedule; and a news section. They can also purchase a Downtown Gift Card accepted at over 100 downtown businesses. The PDA also maintains a strong presence on popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Businesses in the downtown area are automatic general members of the Pleasanton Downtown Association. An Associate Membership program allows businesses located outside the district to join the organization, enabling them to take advantage of a variety of marketing opportunities, including directory listings, web site links, and attendance at PDA gatherings such as quarterly mixers and the annual dinner. They are also entitled to participate in PDA-sponsored events at a discounted rate.

The PDA is located at 830 Main Street, Suite A, and can be contacted at (925) 484-2199 or via email at info@pleasantondowntown.net.

The Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is the destination marketing organization for the cities of Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, and Danville, as well as the surrounding region. It markets the Tri-Valley area as a preferred destination for visitors, meetings, and events by promoting CVB member businesses and bringing overnight visitors to the region. Operating as a business itself, its mission is to increase awareness of and bring measurable spending to the Tri-Valley region.

“If there’s one word that describes FY 2009-2010, it’s ‘transitional.’ Just about everything was subject to change last fiscal year, except for one thing: the CVB’s ability to produce meaningful results,” comments Amy Blaschka, the organization's President and CEO.

The meaningful results included the achievement of 103 percent of its FY goal for potential room nights generated, and a surge to 82.1 million media impressions, up from 67.5 million the previous fiscal year, in such publications as Sunset, Via, Family Circle, and Smart Meetings. Internationally, a feature appeared in a German airline’s in-flight publication, and several segments aired on the Spanish language station Univision.

Undaunted by a challenging economy, the CVB sales team “embraced the challenges of the economy and attended new trade shows, resulting in fresh business opportunities,” Blaschka points out. Sales efforts included promoting the destination via social media focusing on industry LinkedIn groups targeting meeting/event planners, travel professionals, and sporting event organizers. The “Tri-Valley Road Show,” a sales outreach mission, also succeeded in sharing the destination with meeting planners.

New marketing efforts have embraced social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and five blogs. The CVB is also promoting the area as a wedding destination, with a new Twitter account (@wedtrivalley) dedicated specifically to the topic. The organization offers complimentary assistance to brides, meeting planners, and individuals looking to host events in the region, providing referrals to event venues and services, itinerary planning, and more.

This month, the CVB is launching a new website that will be more interactive, comprehensive, and serve as an online gateway to the region.

CVB offices are located at 349 Main Street, Suite 203, in Pleasanton. For more information, call (925) 846-8910 or visit www.trivalleycvb.com.

The Tri-Valley Business Council
Founded in 1994, the Tri-Valley Business Council’s (TVBC) mission is to advocate for business and enhance the economic vitality of the Tri-Valley. The business-sponsored, public-policy advocacy organization represents businesses in the cities of Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, and San Ramon.

According to TVBC President and CEO Toby Brink, employers throughout the Tri-Valley currently face significant challenges--recruiting and retention, limited access to a highly educated talent pool, wage pressures due to a lack of affordable housing, and decreased productivity from escalating traffic congestion.

“These problems significantly affect business performance and are most effectively addressed on a regional basis,” Brink observes. “The strength, drive, and expertise of our members allow us to pursue the critical initiatives for the Tri-Valley area. Our distinguished list of board, council, and participating members represents local business interests and drive key policy issues affecting us all.”

The TVBC impacts public policy by forming strategic partnerships with businesses, serving as a regional convener, hosting meetings/events to discuss relevant issues, disseminating its perspective to businesses and the public, and pursuing initiatives that impact business growth in the region. Much of its work effecting change is carried out through five focused Policy Councils: Education, Government Affairs, Innovation, Resources, and Transportation.

Among its activities, the TVBC recently supported an initiative spearheaded by Sandia Labs and the City of Livermore which led to the designation of the region as one of six Innovation Hubs in the state. The aim is to harness the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of the state by encouraging regional collaboration between research institutions, start-up technology companies, local governments, venture capitalists, and economic development organizations with the common goal of creating jobs.

The TVBC is also focused on developing relationships with key partners. In conjunction with Contra Costa Council, East Bay EDA, and Solano EDC, it became a founding member of EBIZ, designed to promote 680 as an Innovation Corridor.

Another partnership, forged with the Tri-Valley Community Foundation (TVCF), has already had a positive impact on the regional economy. In February 2010 the TVCF launched the American Family Recovery Project jointly with Alameda County, the Pleasanton Weekly, and the TVBC. Funded by contributions and a 4-to-1 federal stimulus match, this unprecedented program has helped stabilize local businesses, individuals, and families during difficult economic times. The TVBC provided outreach to Tri-Valley employers and co-hosted a series of employer information sessions throughout the region.

In its first five months, the Recovery Project created more than 100 jobs, ranging from groundskeepers and receptionists to science and engineering professionals and management, pumping more than $5.3 million back into the Tri-Valley economy and stimulating local business growth.

A variety of membership packages enables organizations from large corporations to start-ups to non-profits to join the TVBC at different levels.  All members enjoy interaction with executives, regional leaders, and elected officials; access to research, data, and expert information regarding issues and trends; and recognition for corporate citizenship and leadership by peers and the community. 

For more information about the TVBC, contact Toby Brink at (925) 575-0615 or tbrink@trivalley.org, or visit the new website www.trivalleybusiness.com

East Bay Economic Development Alliance
Headquartered in Oakland, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance (East Bay EDA) serves an area that encompasses both Alameda and Contra Costa counties. A partnership of organizations, the East Bay EDA includes both counties, 28 cities, corporations, chambers of commerce, labor unions, and non-profits working collaboratively to improve the economic base of the region. The mission of this public-private partnership is to improve the East Bay business climate by developing and maintaining resources, businesses, good jobs, and a high quality of life.

“East Bay EDA works to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of the East Bay economy. We work in a collaborative manner with many partners to bring information and resources to bear on the significant issues facing the East Bay. We work to build bridges between local officials and the business community and advocate for integrated solutions to issues affecting the East Bay,” says Karen Engel, East Bay EDA’s newly appointed Executive Director. “Our door is open, and we welcome the involvement and participation of East Bay companies and others who are seeking a platform for getting involved in economic development.”

The cooperative efforts have been productive. A few years ago, competing against the leading national and global biotech regions, the East Bay attracted the Joint Bio-Energy Institute and the Energy Biosciences Institute, bringing with them an estimated $920 million for research and development in sustainable biofuels in 2007 alone. In 2008, three of the top six venture investments in the U.S. came to the East Bay, all to solar energy companies. In 2009, East Bay life science companies received more venture capital than any state in the country except for California and Massachusetts.

Contributing to this success are a wealth of research institutions such as UC Berkeley, Berkeley Lab, Lawrence Livermore National laboratory (LLNL), Sandia National Laboratories/California (SNLC), a federal Department of Agriculture lab, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, the Gallo Center, and others. In addition, National User Facilities make some of the world’s most powerful and sophisticated research instruments available to private-sector companies with projects of scientific merit.  Such facilities include the Advanced Light Source, the National Center for Electron Microscopy, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, the Combustion Research Facility, the Joint Genome Institute, and many others. 

There are also networking resources such as QB3, CITRIS eBIG, and, of course, East Bay EDA itself.  Even with all these resources, however, East Bay EDA feels the region has yet to reach its full potential, Engel notes. For that reason it is forging even more collaborations with the networking groups and the two newest iHubs--the East Bay Green Corridor and i-GATE. The Green Corridor marries the efforts of Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley, CSU East Bay, eight cities, and several community colleges to promote and support the growth of clean technologies. LLNL, SNL, and the Tri Valley cities are working similarly to promote advanced transportation through their i-GATE iHub. Related to this activity is the creation of a Livermore Valley Open Campus area, adjacent to Livermore’s two labs, which could facilitate the interaction between lab personnel and the private sector. 

The East Bay is already the world’s leader in biofuels R&D. “We have a substantial cluster of solar manufacturers, a number of innovative battery and fuel cell companies, and we are the nation’s fifth largest biotech cluster. However, by building better communication channels between education, training, research, and industry, the East Bay could become even more,” Engel remarks.
For more information, visit www.eastbayeda.org or call Engel at (510) 272-3874.

Bay Area Council
The Bay Area is a formidable business power with an international reputation as an engine of prosperity and growth. An economy of almost $300 billion ranks us 24th in the world when compared to national economies.

The Bay Area Council is committed to maintaining this preeminence. Founded in 1945, the Council is a business-sponsored, public-policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area. It proactively advocates for a strong economy, a vital business environment, and a better quality of life for every resident. Over the past 60 years the Council has become widely respected by elected officials, policy-makers, and other civic leaders as the regional voice of business in the Bay Area.

The Bay Area Council focuses on a wide range of policy issues, including education, healthcare, energy and climate change, transportation and land use, cyber security, water, and global initiatives. This year, the Council opened its first overseas office in the dynamic Yangpu District of Shanghai, after leading many delegations to China over the past few years. The Council is also “a proud first-mover on public policy related to global warming and climate change.”

Under the leadership of President and CEO Jim Wunderman, the Council enjoys the support of hundreds of the region’s major employers, who collectively represent a workforce of more than 501,000, or one of every six private-sector employees. The organization is funded through membership subscriptions with annual dues based on company size, headquarters, and the nature of the business.

Through participation on Bay Area Council committees and a wide range of special events, members have the opportunity to connect with the most influential business and civic leaders in the region as well as top federal, state, and regional government officials. This year, a group of Council members made the trip to Washington, D.C., for a series of meetings with the Bay Area’s congressional delegation, White House officials, and senior staffers of the committees whose agendas affect regional priorities. 

John Grubb, the Council’s Senior Advisor, comments, “In addition to the advocacy, many members appreciate the opportunity to meet and work with their senior level peers. One of the things that we think sums up the Bay Area Council is that our members are men and women of great power, but with that power comes responsibility. The Bay Area Council is a way to exercise that responsibility.”

For general information, contact the San Francisco-based organization at (415) 981-6600. For membership inquiries, email Vice President of Membership Del Christensen at dchristensen@bayareacouncil.org.


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