At the beginning of July, I reported that the Amador County Chamber of Commerce was moving from its location in the Amador County Prosperity Center in Sutter Hill to its previous location at 115 Main Street in Jackson. The move is proceeding apace, and I met with Chamber CEO Joey Guidi at their new headquarters last week about how the process is going.
The Chamber decided to move, Guidi said, because of exposure. “We loved where we were, and it was a great location,” he explained, “but we didn’t have the same outward exposure.” Guidi explained that being in the central location in the county seat, in a location that the Chamber and the community already know, was also a big reason for the move. “The Chamber is supposed to be out in the open, and it’s nice to get back into a storefront,” Guidi added.
The building at 115 Main Street is owned by Stan Lukowicz and contains the large main office and a smaller apartment, and the Chamber rents the main office. Right now, only businesspeople who know the new Chamber office is open are stopping by and don’t mind the mess as Guidi works to get everything in order.
More Than Business
Part of the plan for the new space is to make the Chamber of Commerce space not only a business resource but also a place to welcome visitors and show off Amador County history. “We’re trying to figure out the space right now,” Guidi said, “but our plan is to work with the county archives department to display historical artifacts and information in the front of the building, and space in the back that members can rent as office space.”
One of those artifacts is a model of the Kennedy Mine that was built by Meara Visser, a sixth-grader at Jackson Junior High School. Visser, with a little help from her dad, built the model that won first prize at this year’s Amador County Fair. Guidi said the Chamber and the Amador County Museum have come to an arrangement to display the mine model at each location in different months of the year.
The information at the front of the Chamber office will be placed in brochure holders that have been affixed to the wall. If you’re wondering about the lime green color of the walls, Guidi said that’s just the first coat. He plans to apply a darker green color on top of the current coat so it’s more in line with what’s appropriate for a Gold Country town. Guidi added that he’ll tint the windows and get signage from Merzlak Signs.
So, when will we be able to come to a grand opening for the new Chamber headquarters? “My idea is to have a soft opening and then do a big opening in December at the same time we have our usual mixer on Main Street Jackson,” Guidi said. He doesn’t know when the soft opening will happen, either, because for now, he’s a one-man operation. “A couple of people have been willing to volunteer with answering phones and some bigger stuff,” he added, “and very shortly they’ll be here to run things. I’m super thankful for them.”
Building Business as Usual
Though the new Chamber headquarters is on what Guidi described as “the main drag in the county seat,” as the Chamber grows, he’s open to having satellite locations at different places in the county where people can get information from kiosks or people answering questions. In the meantime, Guidi said, “I always have the Chamber cellphone on me, so if you call, I’ll answer.”
The return of the Chamber to Main Street Jackson makes it easier for Guidi to go back and forth between the Chamber and his job at his family business: KVGC at 163 Main Street. Walking back and forth between KVGC and Chamber headquarters, Guidi has had an opportunity to observe the activity on Main Street. “It’s been pretty quiet for a while,” he said. “Transients walking around is something people always talk about, but they’re at each end of the street, not here in the middle.”
The Chamber Board of Directors made its decision to move soon after appointing Guidi the permanent CEO of the Chamber as of July 1. With that task done, Guidi has been focusing not just on building out the new headquarters but also on keeping businesses open. “It’s all about the community because that’s what the Chamber is here for,” he said. “I love sharing everything about the county with everybody.”
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