Dear Chamber Members & Friends,
The last three months have been unprecedented.
We’ve fielded hundreds of calls and thousands of emails from Chino Valley businesses asking for help. We want to share with you a snapshot of some of the challenges our businesses are facing and how the Chamber has proactively worked to support them.
At the Chamber, we like to say that we are catalysts for business growth, a convener of leaders and influencers, and champions for stronger communities.
Catalysts for Business Growth
When the decision was made to shut down businesses, our first response was to reach out to our members directly. My staff and I called all 400 members to assess their situation and offer our assistance and support.
We conducted a Coronavirus Survey to get more detailed responses on how businesses were being impacted and how the Chamber could help.
We shared the responses of 87 Chino Valley businesses with local, county, state and federal legislators. US Congressman Gil Cisneros specifically used our survey results to request federal funding and programs to support our local business community.
We created a coronavirus update page on our website – https://chinovalleychamberofcommerce.com/coronavirus-update/ – to keep Chino Valley businesses informed about everything coronavirus related. We’ve been updating this at least twice per week.
Frequent Email Correspondence
Our Chamber took a leadership role in educating members on how the Coronavirus is impacting business, and in explaining and sharing resources as they were becoming available. We also used social media to expand our reach. Thank you to the dozens of businesses who commented how helpful and informative our efforts have been.
We have received phone calls from people who are concerned about their health and over the practices of some of our local businesses. We have also received calls from others who are unconcerned about the coronavirus and suggest we return to business as usual.
Last month we emailed a survey to our members about what it would take for business owners to feel comfortable shopping at other local businesses, and then we asked them what steps they would take to protect their customers.
Of the 25 who responded, 22 of them expressed concerns about the health implications of COVID-19, and 24 out of 25 reported they were implementing procedures for cleanliness, social distancing and providing PPE for themselves and their employees.
While all of us would love to go back to normal, the reality is that a large percentage of our population is concerned about the health impact of the coronavirus. Our poll shows that consumers are more likely to return to business as usual if guidelines are followed.
Businesses must also be aware of potential liabilities associated with employees contracting the coronavirus. We are opposing legislation that presume employees who contract the coronavirus became infected at their place of work. Re-opening the economy without proper safety procedures could make those businesses liable, which could have a further adverse effect on our economy.
We want all businesses to open. And, when they do, we are encouraging them to open responsibly.
Modeling and Pivoting
On March 15, we decided to postpone our March 19 Salute to Public Safety, an event that draws 250 to 300 attendees to honor our local police, fire and corrections agencies.
Although we were forced to cancel that and other in-person events, we immediately began thinking of creative ways to continue providing a high level of service to our businesses.
The Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce has not shut down operation during COVID-19, but we have made adjustments. Visiting the Chamber is currently by appointment only. You may contact my personal cell should you need anything – (909) 973-9089 – and our team has and will continue to be available.
Business @ Breakfast
Our regular in-person Business @ Breakfast events moved to Zoom, and we actually saw an increase in attendees. These events foster networking and feature an expert speaking on a business related topic.
Our monthly mixers have also successfully moved to Zoom. On Thursday one of our members will be hosting a mixer at their brick-and-mortar location for those who feel comfortable attending in person. Be on the lookout for our email.
Convener of Leaders & Influencers
As mentioned, we’ve fielded hundreds of phone calls and thousands of emails. We are proud to say we have helped every single one who has reached out.
We have helped businesses by:
- connecting them to legislators on issues affecting their business
- securing PPP, EIDL and other federal loans
- connecting them with loan forgiveness programs
- relaying up-to-date information on when and how they can re-open responsibly
- securing PPE equipment
- creating a go-to source for up-to-date coronavirus information for businesses
- creating a Back in Business resource for businesses starting back up
- creating a Restaurants Offering Takeout and Delivery Amid Coronavirus list and Facebook group
- creating an Essential Businesses list so our community would know which businesses were open
- processing Certificates of Origin for our manufacturing businesses
As a result of these unusual circumstances, we’ve upped our level of communication with our cities and county. On a weekly basis I am in touch with Chino Hills City Manager Ben Montgomery and Chino Economic Development Manager Chris Kennedy. We’ve been able to compile information and share efforts to meet the challenges our businesses are facing.
We have been in frequent contact with Curt Hagman, Chairman of the Board for the County Board of Supervisors, and his team to connect businesses with the county regarding legislation affecting their operations and the re-opening guidelines and restrictions in place for different types of businesses.
Chino Valley Leaders on the Coronavirus Webinar
In March, we started the Chino Valley Leaders Webinar on the local impact of Coronavirus every Tuesday morning from 8:30am to 9:30. We brought together health experts; local, county, state and federal legislators and staff members; an economist; CalChamber and US Chamber representatives; first responders; CVUSD school district representatives; utilities representatives and more. (This week we made the decision to host this webinar once every two weeks.)
In addition to giving up-to-the-minute updates on their organizations and efforts, our Chino Valley Leaders took questions from those in attendance to help guide them during these uncertain times. Thank you to all who participated.
We have considerably increased our chamber’s advocacy efforts. Over a year ago I became a founding member of the Inland Empire Chamber Alliance. Dozens of chambers across the Inland Empire meet monthly to discuss proposed legislation that affects business.
A month ago, our Chamber sent an email out to all members inviting them to participate in our Legislative Action Committee. We hope to focus support for those initiatives that will benefit our members the most.
Political Advocacy During Coronavirus
Since the onset of the pandemic, we have been using our reach to encourage local controls over Coronavirus-related issues. As Curt Hagman has articulated numerous times in our Chino Valley Leaders Webinar, the most restrictive laws are the laws that are in effect. Currently, the most restrictive laws were those imposed by California.
We have advocated for local control since San Bernardino County is vastly different from Los Angeles county in terms of density and exposure. Under local control, our local legislators can make decisions to re-open sooner than under state control.
We need to do our best to ensure that our businesses are taking the appropriate precautions to open responsibly. While most citizens and businesses are following the county and CDC guidelines, there are a few that are not. The consequences of this could not only be deadly for our vulnerable population, but could result in another avoidable shut down of businesses which have already faced so much adversity.
If the federal, state or county governments realize that the coronavirus is spreading in our local communities there is the very real potential of another shutdown, which we certainly want to avoid.
We are fighting for our businesses to stay open, but also strongly encouraging them to follow the guidelines set forth by the County of San Bernardino Public Health Department.
A Champion for Stronger Communities
Restaurants Offering Takeout and Delivery Services
Restaurants were some of the hardest hit businesses. Within the first week we worked to compile a list of restaurants offering takeout and delivery services to encourage our community to support these restaurants. We also created a Facebook Group – Chino Valley Take-Out & Delivers Options Amid COVID-19 which amassed 350 members within just a few weeks.
We also encouraged the purchase of gift cards as a way to show support, and purchased some ourselves as incentives for Chamber ambassadors and as gifts to our volunteers for jobs well done.
Back in Business Website Page
Once businesses began to re-open we created a Back in Business page to let our community know which businesses were back up and running.
CVCC Pitch Competition
We hosted our first CVCC Pitch Competition to promote entrepreneurship in the Chino Valley. Students from across the Chino Valley submitted their business ideas to a panel of judges (Chino Valley business owners). The entertaining and inspiring competition — the pitches and the judging — was all conducted via Zoom. We gave away $5,000 in grants to these students.
The program was so successful that we will be continuing it next year. It has also given us the opportunity to connect CVUSD students with local businesses via job shadowing and internship programs, and will help create career pathways for local students.
Video Interview Project
I’ve been interviewing members about how their businesses have been impacted, how they’ve faced problems, advice they have for others, and how the Chamber has helped their business.
These video interviews highlight our members and increase their exposure in our community.
As a result of our video interview series, our members have been featured on the front page and business section of Champion Newspapers. Deanna Margaritha, the owner of Infuzion Zone was featured after she shared her story of how she recently opened her new business, was forced to shut down almost immediately and has still been working to make her business dream come true.
Other Major Upcoming Events
We are working out the details, but we are still planning on re-imagining our Taste of the Chino Valley.
Our golf tournament will likely take place as restrictions are further relaxed.
The Salute to Public Safety will happen when our first responders are ready.
Our Business Awards & Recognition Dinner will still happen.
Both States of the Cities are being planned.
And our Business Expo is still set to take place in October.
We do want to make sure we follow the current guidelines and need to be flexible to conduct these events responsibly. Depending on the guidelines at the time, some of them may be done virtually, some may be done in-person, some might be a hybrid of the two and others might be re-imagined in other ways.
The Chamber Supporting Local Business
We know the coronavirus has had a devastating impact on so many businesses, families, individuals and our community. This is why businesses support an organization like the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce. While we are in times of crisis or times of prosperity, the Chino Valley Chamber is working hard to assist your business.
Here’s a sampling of some ways we’ve helped specific local businesses:
When Mike Barbin from Graphic Details Inc. was shut out of the PPP program he reached out to us. We were able to connect him with a bank that was able to help him secure a PPP loan.
We featured Rhonda Dennis of R&R Breakfast Spot in one of our interview videos. She’s the epitome of perseverance. She lost her father to COVID-19, stood by as her essential worker husband who battled and recovered from the virus, and still managed to keep her dream and her new business alive.
Queenie Tran from Inland Family Optometry secured a $5,000 grant from the US Chamber thanks to an email we sent to her.
Last week we helped Rock N Karma Fitness connect with the county to confirm their re-opening date and make sure they were prepared to open.
We helped conduct a ribbon-tying event for the grand re-opening of Los Portales in Chino. In doing so, we helped share how they were adjusting to the new guidelines and helped inform their customers of the new processes and procedures they were implementing.
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Support the Chamber
The support of our member businesses have helped to assist businesses who have relied on the Chamber to continue to pursue their dreams. I want to thank our members for their support, membership and sponsorship. We hope you recognize the impact your contribution has made to businesses in the Chino Valley.
Your support of the Chamber is needed now more than ever to continue the work we’re doing to assist struggling businesses and create proactive programs to build a stronger economy.
Whether or not your business has benefited personally from the Chamber, your membership supports our efforts to be catalysts for business growth, conveners of leaders and influencers and champions for a stronger community.
If you’re a member and are up for renewal, please renew your membership. If you’re facing challenges in your business as a result of COVID-19, please contact me and we will work with you.
(909) 973 – 9089
If you’re not a member and you own a business in the Chino Valley, we hope you recognize the value we bring to the community and will become a member. Go here to Become a Member.
If you’re an individual in the Chino Valley and you appreciate the work we’ve been doing, become a member to lend your support. Click here to begin your application.
If your business is thriving, you’d like to give back to your community, or would like to get additional exposure for your business consider becoming a Chairman’s Circle sponsor to help expand our footprint and reach in the Chino Valley.
I’m proud of the work we’ve done at a time when it is needed most. I hope you recognize the value we bring to our community and that we’ve earned your membership and support.
Thanks for everything!