Community Commentary

I walked into my position as new CEO of the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce just six weeks ago and what I found was not pretty. I found a nonprofit business that was beaten up and abused. My images of a fun and exciting job were quickly shattered. Truthfully, I didn’t know exactly where to start shoring up the dyke, as the financial, social and political elements of the chamber were each in various stages of ruin.
That is the bad news. The good news is that we have worked at lightening speed to seal the leaks and we have turned a huge corner. I am now nearly to the point I expected to be at when I walked into the office on the first day.
My first task is to finally give City Council its long-awaited financial review and compilation for its Visitors Center. It will be delivered to my board first and then to City Hall. The results will speak for themselves and they will speak quite loudly. My only comment is that the chamber and I are proud to have the honor of managing the Visitors Center. We will manage it for significantly less than before and make sure that the agreed upon funds we get will be accounted for to the penny. Not one dime from the city will be spent paying off “other expenses” with no true relationship to what the contract called for.
There have been preposterous rumors around town that the Visitor Centers is a drag on the chamber. This is untrue. We simply give the city a budget and they pay us back against “real” receipts for expenses. I am amazed how many nice folks call and visit the center each day and are so appreciative of the results they get from the generous staff, which is headed by a real saint, Ms. Pat Reinhardt.
Again, just to set the record straight, there is one Encinitas. Yes, it does consist of several communities — Leucadia, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Olivenhain and Encinitas — but we are all one and we all have the same city government. Also, there is only one Encinitas Chamber of Commerce and that is this 45-year-old chamber. We are not tired, we are not self-serving, we are not favoring any one politician over others, we are not using our newsletter publication to serve any one person’s self-serving interests, but rather today we exist to serve each and every business in our town equally and fairly and without any agenda.
If there is anything “old” and “new” about Encinitas it is only that we have removed the previous “good ole boy” mentality and are bringing a fresh new spirit of fairness and excitement to this fantastic town.
The Encinitas Chamber of Commerce’s mission has been and will always be to add value to your business. What this chamber offers that every chamber should are:
— Strong and interactive relationships with City Hall, as well as with state and county government agencies and officials.
— Industry-focused committees that allow members of those businesses to work with us, gathering and distributing relevant information to each other and the public.
— Monthly coffee chats and luncheons with the chamber CEO, board members, or committee members, to allow us to “listen” carefully to your concerns so that we can effect positive change for your business, as well as ours.
— A new updated Web site is finally in development, which will increase visibility for member businesses.
— Membership with both the United States and the California chambers of commerce, to provide you with data that affects your work and business. We will keep you current with labor law, sexual harassment legislation, and other federal and state mandates, which if not in effect, could cost you thousands of dollars in fines.
— Monthly Sundowner mixers that provide opportunities to mingle with fellow business people who are active in our community, as well as to get special offers and to hear interesting guest speakers.
— A variety of exciting events and fundraisers sponsored by the chamber during the year to allow your business to express civic pride and responsibility.
— A solid interactive working relationship with all the surrounding chambers.
We are a certified nonprofit organization 501 c (6), with a strong board of 19 directors, all of whom represent businesses here in Encinitas from its largest employer to a single owner business. We are very serious about our responsibilities to our members.
Become part of our very progressive and active organization by contacting me or our Membership Director Debbie Caligiuri at (760) 402-2622.

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