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

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, Visit Tri-Valley (formerly the Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau), East Bay Economic Development Alliance, 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 that was first published in 2008 entitled, "Pleasanton 2015: A Community Vision," which continues to evolve to this day. 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 transportation.

"That's our platform to make decisions, so almost anything we do in the Chamber we ask ourselves, 'How does this fit into the 2015 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 18,000 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 40 events in downtown, including the very popular 1st Wednesday Street Parties, Concerts in the Park, Sizzling Saturdays, Antique Fairs, and Wine Strolls. Coming up later this month is the Second Annual Halloween Brew Crawl, an event that brings together downtown businesses, restaurants, and local breweries, which takes place on Saturday, October 20 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 17th, as the PDA kicks off the holiday season with 'Earlier Than the Bird,' our version of Black Friday, and a special community celebration during Magical Holiday Evening which features free photos with Santa, live music, fun for all ages and great shopping and dining," 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.ne t or call (925) 484-2199.

Visit Tri-Valley

There are big changes afoot at Visit Tri-Valley, which until earlier this year had been known as the Tri-Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau. Formerly a membership organization - "you had to pay to belong or we couldn't represent you," says Geoffrey Sarabia-Mason, VP Tourism Sales & Development - now the group is funded by hotel taxes and works to repay that public investment by marketing the Tri-Valley and all its businesses to travelers.

That change in focus means that one of Visit Tri-Valley's primary tasks over recent months has been reaching out to the five cities it represents - Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, Danville, and San Ramon - to build a comprehensive database of regional companies. "When our new web site launches in November, a consumer will be able to click on 'Salons' and get a list of every salon in the area, for example. We're making sure we have every business in the area."

In addition to basic search functionality, the new web site will display a host of innovative features. Among them is a new widget that will allow consumers to book extras like wine tasting passes and event tickets along with their hotel rooms. "The next migration of this will be to add in dining certificates, so realistically you pay up front for everything and when you show up at your hotel, you're handed a package with everything that you've purchased," says Sarabia-Mason.

"The new site will also have an itinerary builder, so for example when a client books a room night, they'll be able to drag the hotel's icon into each of the three nights that they're staying here. Then, they go to a list of restaurants and add that one night. They'll be able to add the wine tasting rooms they want to visit, and really build out a full itinerary of what they want to see and do, and when they save it, they have the option of clicking on a link to MapQuest to print out the map and the driving directions for everywhere they want to go." Another option will be to send the itinerary to a mobile application.

As the effort kicks off, Visit Tri-Valley is focused on marketing the region to the greater Bay Area, with a special focus on San Francisco and the South Bay. "In year two we'll be hitting other wine regions like Temecula or Portland, Ore., for people who might want to fly in for a weekend, for wine-centric tourism," says Sarabia-Mason. "That's really how we think we're going to win that war on weekend occupancy."

For more information on Visit Tri-Valley, call (925) 846-8910 or access www.VisitTriValley.com .

East Bay Economic Development Alliance

The East Bay Economic Development Alliance (East Bay EDA) is a unique partnership of private and public sector leaders working together to make the East Bay one of the world's most dynamic, globally competitive, and sustainable business environments.

"As a membership organization, we facilitate regional collaboration to effectively advance the economic interests of the region," said Karen Engel, Executive Director. East Bay EDA's mission is to further establish the East Bay as a world-recognized location to grow business, attract investment, and create quality jobs.

East Bay EDA uses thoughtful, well-researched information and opinions to identify critical regional issues and promote deeper understanding of the region's economic challenges and opportunities. Using this credible information, East Bay EDA creates the platform for public and private sector stakeholders to work together and foster relationships that enhance the competitive health of the economy, and to focus on regional aspects such as business climate, workforce development, and physical infrastructure.

Attracting new investment and business activity occurs through consistently elevating the brand and level of awareness of the East Bay through a cross-platform marketing and communications strategy and by serving as the one initial contact and source of information or advocacy for the region on behalf of the stakeholders it represents. For example, East Bay EDA is launching the first-ever East Bay Innovation Awards in partnership with the San Francisco Business Times and a collaboration of regional organizations, to highlight accomplishments in innovation by East Bay businesses in a variety of industry categories.

"Staying informed, being able to work on issues you care about, and networking with other regional leaders is a key benefit for East Bay EDA members," Engel explains. But East Bay EDA also strives to recognize and celebrate accomplishments using social media and offering sponsorship opportunities for its high-profile events.

Currently, East Bay EDA is engaging its members in a range of exciting activities. These include linking companies with workforce training programs to improve the quality of future employees, connecting small business owners with resource organizations to facilitate success, and encouraging local governments to improve their business climate with reliable customer service. For more information, see www.eastbayeda.org .

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) 981-6600 or access bayareacouncil.org .

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