As with many chambers of commerce, one challenge has been the evolution of its primary mission from being a social group to representing businesses in the political arena.
Another has been the move from Main Street Jackson to the Amador Economic Prosperity Center in Sutter Creek.
And then the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Jamie Armstrong, CEO of the Chamber, said the biggest challenge for the Chamber right now is “finding productive ways to help the business community.” Some of those ways include:
- Website information including COVID-19 Resources and Shop Local Directory webpages.
- An increased social media presence on Facebook and Instagram. Posts on Chamber social media profiles include local business profiles, press releases, and important updates.
- “E-blasts,” which are e-mail messages paid for by a business to promote itself to other Chamber members.
- E-mail surveys that seek feedback from its members.
“One of my main goals,” Jamie said, “is to make sure businesses know what resources are available to them and that they have the best understanding they can about these resources.”
Working Toward a New Normal
Jamie is realistic about the problems businesses face now. “The unknown of when this pandemic will be over, and when people will be allowed to shop in public again, is scary,” she said. “I am afraid a lot of our small businesses won’t be able to weather this storm, and it keeps me up at night.”
Jamie is working with other organizations to plan other initiatives as businesses adapt to the “new normal,” including the California Chamber of Commerce and California Association for Local Economic Development. These organizations are working to tell political leaders what businesses need. “Our small businesses don’t need loans,” Jamie added. “They need grants.”
What the Chamber needs from business owners and the community hasn’t changed since the pandemic came to California. First, Jamie said, businesses can help “by renewing their membership or joining the Chamber.” Another way is to tag the Chamber in their social media posts so the Chamber can share what’s happening with your business. Those tags include:
Opening a New Resource
Once the stay-at-home orders are modified and people can work again, the Chamber’s headquarters in the Amador Economic Prosperity Center is fully operational. The center also houses Amador College Connect, Columbia College, and Mother Lode Job Training. A computer lab, small training room, and small conference center are also available for use. “The collaboration among these partners are amazing,” Jamie said.
The center is located at 1 Prosperity Court in Sutter Creek, which is near the intersection of Ridge Road and Prospect Drive/Bowers Road. The center improvements are now completed as shown in the photo above. A sign for the center has been ordered, but there is no installation date as of this writing.
For now, Jamie and her staff serve their members from their homes. “This is all uncharted territory and it is learn as you go,” Jamie said. One other thing that hasn’t changed for the Chamber, she added, is that it’s a place where business owners can be heard. “I have had several conversations with local businesses, and they sometimes just want someone to talk to.”
Do you have a news tip to share? E-mail us and tell us more.