2016 Executive Committee members James Perero, Steven Brown, Jeff Hata, Charnell Smith, Greg Van Ness, and Greg Gillespie. (Not pictured: Sam Benner and Matthew Graczyk)
The Ventura Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Meeting and Board Installation on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at The Pierpont Inn. The event was attended by business members, City officials and dignitaries including Ventura City Council Member Cheryl Heitmann; Brad Hudson, Congresswoman Julia Brownley’s Office; Angelica Cisneros, Assembly member Das Williams’ Office; Michael MacDonald, Senator Hannah‐Beth Jackson’s Office; and Steve Offerman, Supervisor Steve Bennett’s Office.
Outgoing Board Chair, Saurabh Bajaj presented an overview and highlights of the Chamber’s many programs and accomplishments over the past year, thanking the Chamber members, Board, and staff for their support and contributions.
During the year, the Chamber increased its value in the business community through focus on partnerships with a variety of organizations and enhanced the visibility of the Chamber in the business community through increased attendance at Chamber and community functions. The Chamber became more proactive in advocacy for business and grew its focus on economic development. Education partnerships continued to be a source of pride with the Chamber’s Teacher of the Month and Principal for a Day programs, and through Leadership Ventura.
Bajaj also highlighted some key numbers which included the organization’s success in recruiting 120 new members, attracting nearly 2000 attendees to its major functions, and offering more than 170 opportunities for business networking and connections.
During Bajaj’s term, the Chamber also experienced a leadership transition with the hiring of the new President and CEO, Stephanie Caldwell, who began her tenure in late April.
James Perero, incoming Board Chair, presented his vision and the Chamber’s theme for 2016 – “Advocating for Business; Helping Ventura Thrive.” Perero outlined the four key focal points of the Chamber as he addressed the goals for the coming year. Perero’s plan includes working with the City of Ventura to improve the development process; increasing diversity and engaging with businesses in all areas of the city geographically, ethnically and by industry sector; recruiting hyper‐growth entrepreneurs to start, grow and expand here in Ventura; and finally engaging with on the homeless issue. Outgoing Chamber Senior Director, Randy Hinton, installed the new Chamber Board Directors. Among the newly installed Directors were James Perero, Sam Benner, Steven Brown, Matthew Graczyk, Greg Gillespie, Jeff Hata, Charnell Smith, Greg Van Ness and Saurabh Bajaj.
Some Ventura Chamber businesses were also recognized for being long‐time members, including Ventura Trophy Company, member for 50 years, and 25‐year members Anchor Printing & Graphics, Assistance League of Ventura County, Gold Coast Recycling, Kiwanis Club of Ventura, Nicoll Insurance and Financial Services, and Whisenhunt Communications.