2013 Best Chamber of Commerce: Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce
Author: Karen Hart
May, 2013 Issue
“The chamber will continue to provide leadership for this community as we continue to make this the best possible place to live and do business.” —Jonathan Coe
Since 1906, the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce’s mission has been to support local businesses. In the last decade, however, its efforts have put Santa Rosa on the map for top places to visit, which may be why it's been chosen Best Chamber of Commerce by NorthBay biz readers six years in a row.
“We live in the midst of Sonoma Wine Country and Santa Rosa is a great meeting place for business,” says Jonathan Coe, president and CEO of the chamber, which has 850 members. It also turns out that Santa Rosa is becoming known as one of the top cycling destinations in the world, thanks to its participation in the Amgen Tour of California. “The last day will be carried live this year on NBC Sports and the tour finishes in Santa Rosa,” says Coe. “That’s a great promotional victory for us.”
So how does it manage to win Best Chamber of Commerce year after year? According to Coe, it’s because the Chamber focuses efforts in three broad areas. First, it promotes activities that help member businesses thrive. Second, it serves as an advocate and speaks out on the needs and concerns of local business. And third, it’s committed to economic development and job creation.
Last year, through the Santa Rosa Business & Visitors Bureau, it created 11,000 leads for room rights and booked 5,700 room nights in a year. What’s more, the California Welcome Center, located in Railroad Square, greeted about 48,000 visitors last year who were looking for places to go—wineries, restaurants, hotels and more. “We estimate those people spent about $5 million in 2012,” says Coe. “We grow the economy and help our members by giving people great things to do in Sonoma County. We have an excellent chamber and have accomplished a lot in the last year.”
The chamber is also committed to supporting leadership in the community to keep the city known as the “Place of Plenty” thriving.
The Young Professionals Network (YPN), for example, was created to give young businesspeople a place to get professional development and social support from the community. The YPN currently has 300 members and just completed its fifth year. Leadership Santa Rosa has been going strong for 29 years and enables aspiring leaders and newcomers to learn about our local economy and legal systems.
The chamber is also committed to supporting Sonoma County BEST (Building Economic Success Together), which was launched last year to implement its strategic plan as the foundation of an aggressive, countywide economic development program and meet its job creation goals. According to Coe, this program has already created jobs in food processing, high-tech and banking that wouldn’t be here without the efforts of BEST.
What’s ahead for the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce? “In the future, as we have in the past, the chamber will continue to provide leadership for this community as we work to make this the best possible place to live and do business.
"It’s an honor to win,” says Coe. “We appreciate the support of those who voted for us in the poll. We work hard to make sure the economy is as healthy and vibrant as possible.”
Located at 1410 Neotomas Ave. in Santa Rosa,NorthBay biz magazine is a monthly business-to-business publication covering Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties. This year, the magazine is celebrating 43 years of continuous operation. It originally hit the stands in 1975, when it was called Sonoma Business, and only covered Sonoma County. Norm and Joni Rosinski and John Dennis, acquired it in 2000 and changed its name to cover an expanded market. Today, the magazine is part of Amaturo Sonoma Media Group. More here..