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2010 Best Chamber Event: Napa Chamber of Commerce

Author: Virginie Boone
May, 2010 Issue

The Napa Chamber of Commerce (NCC), long recognized for its fine events, has received another nod this year. With 1,200 members representing approximately 27,000 employees—nearly one-third of the county’s workforce—NCC has built an engine around making things better for each member.

Those members include large organizations such as the Queen of the Valley Medical Center, the state hospital, and city and county governments, as well as a host of small businesses (many of which consist of 10 employees or less), that make up the majority of the chamber’s members. Wineries are well-represented, as are eateries, hotels and lodges.

After seven years working with the organization, Lisa Batto was named CEO of the chamber last November (see “Follow the Leaders,” May 2010). “This award means even more this time because we’ve been able to maintain that level of success through a transition,” she notes.

Among the popular gatherings Batto and her team regularly organize are the after-hours mixers, which attract approximately 200 people each month to various Napa businesses. The chamber also holds an annual business expo, which this year brought together 700 people.

“We tend to put on fun events,” Batto says. “Our golf tournament sells out every year; our members appreciate that our events are highly organized and of value for them to attend.”

That includes a big emphasis on educational events, including the Napa County Economic Outlook, featuring experts from around the region who can speak both from a global perspective as well as one tuned specifically to the needs of the Napa area. The chamber also holds regular labor law workshops.

Wake Up Your Business Wednesdays are well-attended networking and development mornings devoted to such subjects as business insurance, social networking, marketing, time management and retirement and health benefits.

There’s no resting on laurels here, though. The chamber is working hard to reach out to its members in different ways, using podcasting as one way to improve communication and highlight members. A membercast goes out once a month, for example, usually with a focus on upcoming events, but sometimes focused on a subject as weighty as the chamber’s five-year vision. Audio and video are also being added to each member’s profile on the chamber’s website.

“We hope to be a leader in this area,” says Batto. It all stems from her inquiring motto of “How can we do things better?”

“We’re asking ourselves that question about everything we do,” she says. “How our members can get information easier, make events more valuable. Everything we do, we want to do better.”



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