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Calaveras Chamber Releases Letter

Angels Camp, CA — The Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce has been losing members over the past few years as the economy has been sputtering along.

As membership declines, the question has been raised in the community about whether the Chamber of Commerce can survive financially. Last week the organization moved out of its office in downtown Angels Camp, and is currently setting up shop at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds.

Hoping to ease concerns about its future, the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has released the following letter to the community explaining some of its recent challenges:

The Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce, like most of its members, and the Calaveras County business community at large, has been economically challenged in these last three years. In spite of that, the Chamber of Commerce has continued to provide its members and the business community with the same level of services and support, as before the recession, while trimming its expenses and directing its commitment to meeting its obligations.

The Chamber’s economic challenges are due to a decrease in membership during the last three years and a reduction in the net proceeds from fundraising events. With regard to the membership, the Chamber maintained between 360 and 430 members prior to 2009. Directly relevant to the percentage of decrease in the number of County Business Licenses, the membership has dropped to slightly more than 250 members. This has reduced the Chamber’s main source of funding in half. Exasperating the Chamber’s financial condition was a decision by the Board of the Chamber, in 2008, to commit the Chamber’s reserve funds to print an advertising supported map in an attempt to assist the business community, who had invested advertising dollars with this company. The vendor had filed bankruptcy and the Chamber absorbed that loss just prior to the recession. The Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)6, not for profit organization, doesn’t receive any public funding, and is current with all tax filings.

During the last three years of economic hard times the Chamber of Commerce has continued to maintain and provide its programs and support to the business community which include: Leadership Calaveras, Business mixers and ribbon cuttings, thousands of business referrals to member businesses and county landmarks, educational programs which included ADA liability education, energy summits, marketing seminars and more. We spent much of 2008 through 2009 educating members and leaders about Economic Development.

The Chamber has consistently advocated for businesses and sometimes taken unpopular decisions taking public positions for the Bear Valley Expansion, Trinitas Golf Course, the maintenance of the levels of New Melones, O.A.R.S. rafting on the Mokelumne and many more.

The Board of Directors made a decision last year to move away from social event fundraisers so as to not further burden our business members for donations and tickets but rather hold business generating events such as the Home & Garden Show and the Bridal Faire. Prior to that time, the Chamber sponsored the wildly popular Painted Frogs of Calaveras, a fundraiser for non-profit organizations for which all the proceeds, $325,000 were distributed to non-profits organizations throughout the county.

We want to assure the Calaveras Chamber members, the business community at large, and the residents of Calaveras County that the Chamber and its Board of Directors is committed to promoting and achieving economic prosperity and community sustainability for Calaveras County as it has since 1924. We will appreciate your support as we continue to operate in these challenging times.

Sincerely,

Board of Directors
Jacob Lewis, president, Jeff Davidson, vice president, Bruce Tallakson, treasurer, Mark Luster, past president, Mike Dell ‘Orto, at-large executive committee, Ron Dwelley, Linda Gough, Jim Gentling, Dorian Faught, Ray Davis, John Hamilton and Nick Hodgson.