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2013 Best Chamber Event: Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce

Author: Karen Hart
May, 2013 Issue

“Our goal is to bring value to our members by planning events that are fun and exciting and help our members make connections and meet new business people.” —Janet Rogers

There’s always something going on at the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commercewhether it’s a monthly mixer, barbeque or galaand that’s probably why it was voted Best Chamber Event by NorthBaybiz readers. “Our goal is to bring value to our members by planning events that are fun, exciting and help our members make connections, meet new business people and forge long-lasting relationships,” says Janet Rogers, director of special events and Leadership Santa Rosa. “The events we host touch all parts of our community.”
There are a number of events that are popular with the chamber’s 850 members, which include small business owners and corporate employees from all sectors of the business world in Sonoma County. At the beginning of each year, the chamber hosts an annual gala to thank the previous chamber board and to introduce new board members. The sold-out gala has been held at the Vintner’s Inn in Santa Rosa for the last couple of years.
Showcase Sonoma County, which takes place every year in May, is a business expo and the chamber’s largest and most interactive networking event. This event, which draw close to 100 vendors and more than 700 attendees, gives members the opportunity to exhibit their business to attendees. The businesses that exhibit their services range from high-tech, finance and manufacturing to wineries and breweries.
A business after-hours mixer takes place on the fourth Thursday of every month. The monthly mixers give members an opportunity to highlight their businesses, network and build relationships with other professionals.
In June, the chamber will host its 17th annual Golf Tournament, which also includes an after-hours mixer, a great place for members and community leaders to connect. The chamber also hosts an annual barbecue for those working in agriculture at the end of August. There’s a business expo, and local wineries and caterers showcase their products prior to the program and meal. In addition, the chamber honors someone in the agricultural community who’s been consistently successful and showed leadership qualities. “It’s now in its 41st year, and has become our most successful event with more than 700 people attending,” says Rogers. The event attracts guests from corporations such as Agilent and Medtronic as well as personnel from small- and mid-size businesses.
Also in August, the chamber hosts the Education and Business Partnership Breakfast to honor educators from kindergarten through college. “We honor more than 50 educators each year, and sell out to a crowd of more than 400 people,” says Rogers.
Some of the events spearheaded by the chamber are fund-raisers, which it hosts to raise money for various programs, including the Mike Hauser Algebra Academy for middle school students, which is aimed at helping students master higher mathematics; the Worksite Held Employee English Learning program (WHEEL), which was created to provide English language classes for employees at their place of employment; and professional development workshops for the chamber’s members, where members might learn how to create a business plan or better use social media.
“It’s truly an honor to win Best Chamber Event,” says Rogers. “And it’s all about our volunteers. There’s no way we could survive without them.” The chamber has more than 300 volunteers in all different capacities, and they’re all wonderful in their own exceptional ways.”



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