Published October 21, 2014
Volume 22, Number 10

Local and Regional Business Organizations Support Member Success Through Programs, Activities

Pleasanton Chamber of CommercePleasanton Downtown AssociationEast Bay Economic Development AllianceEast Bay Leadership CouncilInnovation Tri-ValleyVisit Tri-ValleyBay Area Council

Whether your company is large or small, it probably shares common interests with others in the area. Making the most of that community is a specialty of a number of local and regional organizations, be it through business development, networking, or advocacy. The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, Pleasanton Downtown Association, East Bay Economic Development Alliance, East Bay Leadership Council, Innovation Tri-Valley, Visit Tri-Valley (formerly the Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau), and the Bay Area Council all work to enhance the business environment to provide greater opportunities for success.

The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce
The mission of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce is to help local businesses both large and small through four concurrent efforts: creating and promoting economic opportunity, providing business services to its more than 800 members, representing businesses to government  and influencing public policy important to the local economy.

The organization’s primary guide to these goals is a comprehensive document entitled, “Pleasanton 2020: A Community Vision”. The document outlines the Chamber’s platform on a host of important local and regional issues, including arts, culture, and recreation; education; health and human services; housing; leadership; the local economy; public safety and infrastructure.

“That’s our platform to make decisions, so almost anything we do in the Chamber we ask ourselves, ‘How does this fit into the 2020 vision?,’” says Dawn Wilson, member relations. “It has been formed with a lot of expert input. For example, when we were making decisions about public safety, we conferred with the chief of police, and with the superintendent of schools when we were discussing education. A committee continues to meet on a monthly basis to review the vision, and we encourage our members to participate in that process.” Judging from the most recent official review of the document, the Chamber’s focus has been rewarded with a long list of achievements contributing to the long-term health and well-being of Pleasanton, not just for the business community but for the city as a whole.

The Chamber also offers numerous ways for its members to save time and money while providing unique promotional opportunities. The Chamber’s bi-monthly newsletter is distributed to both members as well as 15,000 homes and businesses in Pleasanton, as an insert to the Pleasanton Weekly.

The Chamber also stresses the importance of “community involvement through volunteer opportunities,” says Wilson. Chamber Ambassadors attend ribbon cuttings for new businesses and staff monthly mixers, giving them plenty of opportunities to make contact with potential clients. Perhaps the best example of business improvement via self-improvement is “Leadership Pleasanton,” a program co-sponsored by the Chamber and the City of Pleasanton to develop community leaders. “It’s a very valuable program. We get testimonials all the time from participants who tell us, ‘This program changed my life.’ It’s an opportunity to get to know the leaders in the town, and it encourages participants to give back to the community by being a volunteer or serve on a board somewhere.”

Learn about the value of membership and the Chamber’s many programs at www.pleasanton.org or by calling (925) 846-5858.

Pleasanton Downtown Association
“The heart of our beautiful town, downtown Pleasanton, is home to over 575 businesses,” says Laura Olson, executive director of the Pleasanton Downtown Association. True to the idea that an important part of Pleasanton’s identity can be found in its historic core, the PDA provides a broad menu of events and other activities to make downtown a key focus for every business in the city — even those without a downtown address.

“While the PDA’s mission is to promote downtown businesses, we do have a wonderful Associate Membership program that allows businesses from outside of downtown to be a part of our special events and network in downtown,” says Olson.

The PDA was created in 1984, when the City Council recognized the need to have an organization help oversee and support this special business area. The PDA operates an assessment district used to fund efforts that help develop and promote a vibrant downtown community. Operating as a non-profit organization, funding is provided by member assessments, matching City funds, sponsorships and revenue producing events. As a certified State and National Main Street Community, the PDA is organized under a four-point strategy that incorporates the elements of organization, economic restructuring, promotion and design or physical appearance. Successful implementation of this strategy involves a mutual effort by the PDA staff, business owners, property owners, Associate members and community volunteers.

The PDA is perhaps best known for the massive slate of events it sponsors, along with its members, every year. In all, the group puts on over 48 events in downtown, including the very popular 1st Wednesday Street Parties, Concerts in the Park, Sizzling Saturdays, Antique Fairs, Brew Crawls and Wine Stroll. Coming up later this month is the Fourth Annual Halloween Brew Crawl, an event that brings together downtown businesses, restaurants, and local breweries, which takes place on Saturday, October 25 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. Tickets are available online — access www.pleasantondowntown.net and click on “Events.”

“Next month features two special events on Saturday, November 22nd, as the PDA kicks off the holiday season with Magical Holiday Evening, special community celebration which features free photos with Santa, live music, fun for all ages and great shopping and dining from 4pm-7pm. Our Second Annual Holiday Spirit Stroll which is a fabulous new event that features 21 pouring locations throughout downtown sampling wine, beer and holiday spirits. Holiday Spirit Stroll will be from 5pm-8pm and tickets will be available on our website beginning in late October. So bring your friends & family and kick off the holiday season in style in downtown. It’s a night not to be missed!,” adds Olson. 

Hacienda businesses that want to get in on the fun are eligible for the PDA’s Associate Member program. “By being an Associate Member, businesses have access to unique marketing opportunities such as promotional opportunities at Farmers Market, sponsorship of a Concert in the Park and discount participation rates for 1st Wednesday Street Party,” says Olson. “The PDA also hosts three member-only networking events that are open to our Association Members.” The PDA currently has over 200 Associate Members.

For more information on the Pleasanton Downtown Association, including  membership opportunities, visit pleasantondowntown.net or call (925) 484-2199.

East Bay Economic Development Alliance
The East Bay Economic Development Alliance (East Bay EDA) is a cross-sector membership organization serving Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, with 24+ years of leadership and collaborative history.  Our service area includes 1,540 sq. miles, which cover approximately 22% of the Bay Area.  The East Bay’s 2.5 million residents, over a third of the Bay Area’s population, and almost 146,000 East Bay businesses that provide 1,173,800 jobs are located in the middle of one of the world’s most dynamic economies.  It is no coincidence that the East Bay is one of the nation’s fastest growing regions.
As a regional economic development organization, East Bay EDA represents a broad network of local business, government and community leaders that connect local community entities and businesses to regional, state and national resources.  We create accurate, original information about the region through commissioned studies and economic reports, and promote economic development efforts at the sub-region and city levels through regular peer engagement, assistance with data acquisition and analysis, professional development and other support services for local government.  Companies in specific industry sectors and at various stages of development also benefit directly from business briefings and seminars we conduct, and the regional resources we help to sustain, promote and bring into the region.
Focus areas for East Bay EDA include the marketing of the East Bay region’s economic and quality of life assets, business development and resources, workforce development, employer engagement with education, international trade and investment, and land use and infrastructure.  East Bay EDA uses its leadership to review legislation and advocate for measures and policies that promote business growth.
East Bay EDA seeks out diverse members who recognize the extraordinary value of these resources and who can help the East Bay unlock its full potential as a global leader and an unrivaled place to live and work.  East Bay EDA membership includes key corporate and private sector CEOs and executive management, including representation from Fortune 500 companies; elected leadership and key management of Alameda and Contra Costa counties and cities; the Port of Oakland; the University of California, Berkeley; all three national research laboratories (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia); California State University, East Bay; the region’s community colleges; labor organizations; environmental stewards; regional nonprofit organizations; and philanthropic entities.  In all, over 800 individuals and 106 organizations make up East Bay EDA’s membership and contribute to its effectiveness. 

East Bay Leadership Council
The East Bay Leadership Council, also referred to as EBLC, is a private sector, public policy organization whose membership includes business, nonprofit organizations, government, education and labor. The mission of the Council is to provide advocacy on public policy issues affecting the economic vitality and quality of life in the East Bay region.

“Advocating for sustainable jobs and a healthy economy requires us to be well-informed on diverse issues that impact our members, which are some of the most significant employers in the region. EBLC’s priorities include finding ways to improve the region’s approach to infrastructure financing, the workforce development system, water policy, health care regulation and land use policy,” says President and CEO Kristin Connelly. “Our current work is focused on advanced manufacturing, energy (alternative and conventional), health  care and life sciences, digital media, food processing and agribusiness, and professional, scientific and technical services.

“While that may sound like a tall order, we don’t do it alone,” adds Connelly. “We collaborate with other regional organizations through the Bay Area Business Coalition, and statewide through the R.E.A.L. Coalition, a group of regional business and economic development organizations throughout California.”

The organization’s public policy platform is driven by its volunteer task forces, which meet monthly and are led by top professionals in their fields. The task forces identify issues, become informed on those issues and develop sound positions for the Board of Directors to consider for advocacy on behalf of the organization. Participation on the task forces is open to any employee of a member firm. Subject matter expertise is always welcome, but interest motivates many to participate. Regular attendance at task force meetings is an excellent way to stay informed, help shape EBLC’s advocacy agenda and network with other leaders in your field.

EBLC also holds frequent events and luncheons featuring the East Bay’s elected officials from the local, state and federal level, as well as special industry forums and workshops, an annual Philanthropy Awards Breakfast, and an annual Small Business Awards Luncheon. The 29th annual East Bay USA dinner and gala will take place on January 22, 2015, and continue as a series with two related programs in April and September 2015. 
For more information about the Council, see www.eastbayleadershipcouncil.com and follow us on Twitter at EBLConline and Facebook.
In addition, the Council has a sister organization, a foundation called the Contra Costa Economic Partnership, which is also headed by Kristin Connelly as Executive Director. “The Partnership is a special collaboration between public agencies and private employers that focuses on economic development. It supports outcome-based research on job creation, infrastructure and workforce development,” Connelly explains. “We are also currently developing a long-term, sector-based regional strategy to enhance the stature of the East Bay.” For more information, visit www.ccpartnership.org.

Innovation Tri-Valley
How does the Tri-Valley fit into the global economy? That has been a question posed by dozens of stakeholders concerned about the region’s economic development. Many of them have joined forces in a new organization, Innovation Tri-Valley, that has taken on a branding initiative to raise the region’s profile and promote its collection of favorable attributes.

Innovation Tri-Valley grew organically through a succession of conversations and events, starting a few years ago with a day-long forum of panel discussions about timely issues related to creating innovation and embracing diversity.

An even more startling question emerged: “Why is the Tri-Valley invisible?”

“When we get national or international media coverage, our dateline is always Silicon Valley,” remarks Dale Kaye, the former Livermore Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO who was a driving force behind the new nonprofit and has just been named its CEO.  To base the branding on a solid footing, the group commissioned a study to enumerate the region’s assets and benchmark them against other innovation hubs in the country.

The survey generated some interesting statistics about the Tri-Valley:  it is home to California’s largest company, Chevron; has a total of 697 technology companies and claims the highest percentage of 1s (fast-growing companies) in the nation; and has started to see the arrival of venture capital firms. The one missing link, a major university, is offset by the presence of two national laboratories, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia, both hotbeds of research and technology transfer.

The group decided to form an organization that would hone the identity of and serve as a voice for the fertile mix of innovation ingredients. “It’s all about regionalism,” notes Kaye. “We are stronger and mightier if we speak together addressing issues that can hinder business development.” Current high-priority action items include turning today’s students into a skilled workforce and streamlining the municipal permitting process as companies scale up and become successful.

The organization is supported by several levels of business membership. To find out about the options, visit www.trivalleyinnovation.org or email Kaye directly at dkaye@innovationtrivalley.org.

Visit Tri-Valley
Visit Tri-Valley is the region’s destination marketing organization, responsible for attracting visitors to the area. Formerly known as the Tri-Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, the group is funded by an assessment paid by overnight hotel guests that is collected by hotels. Visit Tri-Valley repays that investment by marketing the cities of Pleasanton, Livermore, San Ramon, Dublin and Danville to travelers.
With more than 50% of its annual budget allotted to marketing, the company has made recent strides to ramp up its efforts. Last spring, Visit Tri-Valley president Barbara Steinfeld created the new position of VP of Marketing and hired marketing expert Emmy Kasten. Kasten’s career highlights include launching Red Bull Energy Drink in North America and leading worldwide public relations for video game giant Rockstar Games. “There is so much potential for the Tri-Valley to be Northern California’s newest hot destination,” says Kasten. “People are always looking for something fresh to talk about and call their own.”
In Kasten’s past few months on the team, Visit Tri-Valley has conducted market research, formed new partnerships, and executed more integrated marketing campaigns to “evolve the brand and deepen its engagement.” The company’s most recent campaign generated an 88% increase in unique visitors to its website. In addition, more journalists have shown interest in the region, and the company’s social media numbers are at an all time high. Marketing initiatives also include packaging the region’s assets to create new attractions such as the soon-to-be-launched Tri-Valley Beer Trail and Romancing the Arts in the Tri-Valley. Finally, a new, improved website is scheduled to launch next May. “We are on the right track to becoming an attractive alternative to the typical Bay Area experience,” says Steinfeld.
For more information on Visit Tri-Valley, call (925) 846-8910 or go to www.VisitTriValley.com.

Bay Area Council
The Bay Area Council was founded in 1945 as a way for the regional business community to concentrate and coordinate their efforts as public policy advocates. The group focuses on three interlocking goals: a strong economy, a vital business environment, and a better quality of life for all the area’s residents. Today, over 275 of the largest employers in the Bay Area support the council, with CEOs and other top executives serving as members.

“We are business leaders committed to working with public and civic leaders to make the Bay Area the most innovative, globally competitive, and sustainable region in the world,” reads the group’s mission statement, and they undertake a variety of efforts in pursuit of these goals. Specifically, the council informs and mobilizes business, civic, and political leaders on the most critical issues and opportunities facing the region; develops solutions for an ambitious vision for the region’s future with participation of business, government, labor, science and education; and achieves results through advocacy and committed leadership to realize this vision.

Meeting this commitment requires significant research and communication among the group’s members to identify critical challenges and opportunities confronting the region and study these issues to create a coherent platform of advocacy. Once these positions have been conceived, the council works to promote understanding and collaboration among stakeholders in an ongoing effort to drive implementation of strategic policy solutions through political, business, and civic leadership.

For additional information on the Bay Area Council, call (415) 986-9777 or access bayareacouncil.org.


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