Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce Debuts in The Desert “A Blueprint for Success”
By Alison Elsner
Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” The new Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce (GCVCC) is a perfect example of the synergy to which Aristotle referred, in essence more than tripling the networking and events while allowing members to pay dues to only one Chamber.
The GCVCC–or “The Chamber”–was officially launched on July 1, 2016 in cooperation with the former Coachella, La Quinta, and Indio Chambers, along with the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians and Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians. The new entity enhances and significantly improves the way businesses interact with each other and the community in the entire Coachella Valley. As a regional chamber, the GCVCC delivers services and benefits to its members on a scope not seen before in the area.
All of the partner chambers have combined under one 19 member board of directors, with current board Chair Jason Schneider, CPA, Osborne Rincon, CPAs. There are also local business districts and Ambassador Corps in each partner city which support local Chamber efforts such as ribbon cuttings, meeting with members in each district and networking events. This unique business model achieves an important balance between local representation and regional access.
All former members of the component Chambers are automatically members of GCVCC, bringing its active, dues-paying membership to 1,280 – one of the largest Chambers in southern California.
According to Joshua Bonner, President and CEO of GCVCC, “The idea of merging or combining chambers of commerce is nothing new. It has been talked about in the desert for well over a decade and is happening all around us throughout the country. The concept is simple: significantly grow the local economy and serve local businesses in the most effective ways possible. This is done through consolidating financial resources and staff talent, combining sizable referral programs and working together to ensure a successful business community. Instead of compete, we partner. Our local businesses deserve a strong association which evolves with the times to meet the needs and desires of professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs.”
Bonner, the former CEO of the Indio Chamber, has assembled a powerhouse team of 13 full time staff and three contract professionals.
Katie Stice, GCVCC Regional President, Vice-President of Core Services and a well-known Chamber professional in the Coachella Valley for many years, explains, “GCVCC has more capabilities now, and we have become more efficient and effective since staff, events and services have merged. We’ve hired full a time legislative specialist to work closely with city officials and elected leaders on pro-business issues and projects such as drafting legislation. We are proud to be the only chamber to offer this essential service to membership. We are also fortunate to have a videographer and photographer on staff who help members with promotional ads, videos and head shots.”
Bonner and Stice share the viewpoint that each Chamber continuing to operate separately would have rendered the new infrastructure nearly impossible. New roles and team configurations have been made possible by leveraging shared resources, and the result is unparalleled support to the new Chamber’s members.
Bonner also points out that the Tribal Nation’s participation as part of the GCVCC is literally making history. Bonner says, “GCVCC is the only known multi-city regional chamber in the country that officially represents sovereign Indian Nations in our charter. This is a tremendous accomplishment, and it speaks to the forward thinking mindset of our board of directors and regional partners.”
Stice adds, “When over 95% of our membership voted for this partnership, it spoke volumes of the excitement, encouragement, and appreciation for the change. They knew that together we were making history. Our board members are progressive and initiated the movement, followed by a landslide member vote from all three chambers of commerce and support from our tribal partners.”
The new GCVCC is structured to encompass four core membership objectives:
* The Core Services department leads the education, networking and communication components of The Chamber, while organizing a powerful referral program. This team also oversees the production of The Gem, the local newsletter which reaches every business and resident in La Quinta, as well as the Discover Indio Guide, visitor and business maps and more.
* The Special Events team focuses on innovating and enhancing The Chamber’s slate of events while building value through the ability to connect community and business members. Stice notes that this was evident at the recent sold out Installation and Awards Dinner.
* The Sales team is the service and outreach division of the organization, sharing value with potential members while keeping existing members informed of how the chamber can help grow their business. This team was recently bolstered with the addition of a fourth full time executive.
* Legislative and Community Outreach, designed to enhance legislative relationship-building and policy-making in the context of growing and strengthening the local business community.
GCVCC continues to have tremendous respect for the role each of the other valley chambers play within the community, and the organization heartily encourages residents and businesses to join their local chambers.
Bonner says, “We think it is important, for instance, for a business in Palm Desert to join the Palm Desert Chamber and likewise with Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, or whatever the case may be – we definitely encourage that. Our goal was simply to try and build a regional model for businesses that want to engage across the entire Coachella Valley.
We are always looking for partnerships, even outside the chamber world. We have a great working relationship with Desert Ad Fed, with whom we partner on the annual AdBam event. We also have an upcoming All Valley Mayors Lunch through a partnership with the Palm Springs Chamber. We strive to be a very open and inclusive organization, and we will continue that posture into the future as partnerships arise that help our local business community.”
As these innovative Coachella Valley business leaders have shown, it appears Aristotle was on to something.
CONTACT ‘THE CHAMBER’:
760-347-0676, 760-347-6069 (fax)
Coachella Office: 1258 6th St., Coachella, Ca 92236
Indio Office: 82-921 Indio Blvd., Indio, Ca 92201
La Quinta Office: 78-495 Calle Tampico, La Quinta, Ca 92253