Why Didn’t the Chamber Host Holiday Faire?

By Rachel Unell, MCCOC

As the community is aware, the Mountain Communities Chamber of Commerce could not host the Holiday Faire and Fantasy of Lights Parade this year.

It was an extremely difficult decision, but we did not have enough volunteers or funding in place to host a successful event. This was not an overnight development. But it did become inevitable.

After being appointed as treasurer in early 2011, I reconstructed the chamber’s accounting back to 2009. I was able to report on the financial outcome of several projects.

The 2009 and 2010 Visitors Guides were planned to be cost neutral, but ended publication with a $2,500 loss. In 2010, the chamber chose to support the inaugural Renaissance Faire as a new and exciting community event, and a $9,000 loss resulted.

The 2009-10 Kern County Board of Trade grant funds were spent to advertise community events, but not in a way that met the Board of Trade’s contract requirements. The Chamber is returning $4,800 to the Board of Trade to make good on our contract.

Of course, the recession also hit during this time, and businesses have struggled and closed. Membership has declined over three years, which means that the chamber has not been able to cover its own modest operating expenses.

The organization was in dire straits in early 2011, but I know what an active, wellstructured chamber of commerce can do for its community.

The board of directors rose to the challenge to rebuild. We will fulfill our unique role in the community.

We launched an ambitious plan, and I took on the role of interim president in July.

Funds have been loaned to the chamber by board members, allowing time to rebuild a strong organization with a good foundation and a long term plan.

Focus on our Goals

We started this journey with these objectives: help businesses grow and prosper, increase job opportunities, encourage leadership development in all segments of the community and contribute to the overall economic stability of the community.

We have made fantastic progress since this process started in April 2011:

  • We have designed a new website that promotes our members and our communities. The site also has a members-only section being filled with helpful resources for businesses. We will also be able to analyze site traffic and report back to our members and stakeholders.
  • We have rewritten our bylaws, created a business plan and drafted operating documents to guide daily activities.
  • We’ve launched a Facebook page and monthly E-newsletter to publicize our members’ news and distribute community information.
  • We’ve been rebuilding relationships with county government, organizations that can assist our nonprofits and our members.
  • We took on the downtown Frazier Park Streetscape utilities and maintenance when the proposed CSA to pay for those expenses did not materialize. Antioch Nursery has generously donated the maintenance and trash pickup.
  • We continued to provide office space for the Mountain Communities Small Business Development Center of WEV and developed other partnerships for community projects.
  • We’ve established our service area northward to encompass the Tejon Industrial Complex, east to Neenach/ Fairmont, south to Gorman and west to the Carrizo Plain.

Your Turn

Please become a member (easy to do through www. mymountainchamber.com). Support our mission and continue building on the work done this year.

Please donate to the Streetscape fund (also easy at www.mymountainchamber. com). Participate in the committees and let us know how we can best serve you. Together, we will accomplish great things.

And for 2012, with your support, we will launch a revitalized Holiday Faire and Fantasy of Lights Parade to benefit all of our Mountain Communities.

This is part of the November 25, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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