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Chamber to Aid in Hard Times

Posted: February 12, 2008 8:44 p.m.
Updated: March 29, 2008 2:01 a.m.

One goal Charlie Gill has this year is simple: Reach out and talk to the roughly 1,750 members of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.

By talking to members and giving them ways to connect with each other, Gill believes each business’s individual problems will be reflected in what he views as the “global concerns” that the Santa Clarita Valley is facing as part of the nation’s ongoing economic slump.

With the issues out in the open, Gill said the chamber can use its resources and programs to work through the problems.

That’s just one of the ideas Gill hopes to implement with the rest of the board of directors and staff as his new position of chairman of the board.

Gill, president of Integrated Property Services Group Inc., was officially installed as chairman to replace outgoing chairwoman Pam Ingram during the chamber’s installation dinner earlier this month.

But being chairman comes after long involvement with the chamber. In 1992, Gill moved to Santa Clarita to continue his position as executive vice president of Urban Retail Properties, a company later bought out. During the same year he relocated to Santa Clarita, Gill joined the SCV Chamber of Commerce.

In the past years, Gill’s dedication to the chamber became more visible. He served as chairman of the economic development board for the past two years while continuing his fifth year on the board.

It was in that period that the head of the property and facilities management services company developed not only a passion for Santa Clarita, but an understanding of the local business environment.

His involvement has given Gill a way to understand the growth of the chamber, along with the success of a community like Santa Clarita.

“The chamber has what I consider a certain internal dynamic,” he said in an interview last week at his company’s office in Valencia.

He credits the chamber’s strong involvement in the organization, like the numerous committees, as a representation of the powerful local business community.

Plus he said that the addition of Larry Mankin as the chamber’s president and CEO five years ago made way for a “major transition” within the chamber.

Additionally, the chamber offices in Valencia are home to the Small Business Development Center, hosted by College of the Canyons and directed by Paul de la Cerda. Gill said small businesses represent a large portion of the chamber’s membership.

Those reasons could also explain why the chamber holds the title of the seventh largest chamber in Southern California.

Gill sees this as the time to put those chamber resources to work to help any ailing small, medium and large businesses.

Santa Clarita has been affected by a “trickle down” effect from the housing slump and strike by the Writers Guild of America, Gill said. Local companies, ranging from caters to lighting, that rely on film production in the Santa Clarita Valley have slowed down tremendously, he said.

“All of that trickles down into the community,” Gill said, referring to slowdowns with catering companies and suppliers.

Although the chamber can’t do much to stop the WGA strike, nor can it solve the mortgage crisis, Gill said the organization’s programs can help businesses.

“Whether it’s the strike or the current economic conditions that we’re facing, I think if a member is having some issues, we want them to know that the door’s open to the chamber,” he explained. “We have resources, and if we don’t have those resources, then we’ll find those resources. And that to me is more of the value of a chamber membership than anything.”

Those resources include counseling available from the chamber’s staff and networking opportunities through mixers and grand opening celebrations.

Gill also sees the chamber’s annual trip to Washington D.C. and Sacramento, planned for some time in April, as a way to brief politicians about the concerns the Santa Clarita Valley’s business community faces.

Gill said the current business climate is a way for struggling businesses to take a new direction, whether it’s through developing a new image campaign or connecting with other organizations that offer similar goods and supplies.

Gill said he wants to continue the chamber’s support of the growth of the city of Santa Clarita and the areas governed by Los Angeles County.

As for other issues, Gill considers workforce housing to be critical, along with having “affordable programs” like health care and dental insurance.

Mankin looks forward to working with Gill in 2008.

“Charlie is a great thinker, a great planner,” he said.

Mankin said Gill will complement his skills of being a “big picture guy.”

“I think he brings the vision to create good programs and good products,” he said.

Copyright: The Signal


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