On an internal level, I am extraordinarily proud of the Chamber staff’s ability to quickly adapt our organization to the changing needs of our business community. By mid-March, it became quite evident that the Chamber’s current business model was going to need to radically change in order for us to guide our business community through the COVID-19 crisis. Our stellar staff members did not miss a beat, and I want to take some time to recognize their efforts.
Our Membership/Advertising team, made up of Emerald Lowe and Hunter Shepard, quickly transitioned to an Outreach Team, allowing us to make contact with several hundred businesses to learn about their needs and make them aware of our vast array of informational resources.
Our Finance and HR Manager, Tracy Chin, became very well versed in many of the HR issues and loan programs that were suddenly very relevant and important to our businesses. Our Event Coordinator, Kristi Hawthorne has put events aside for now and has taken on the role of our primary writer for the Best of Oceanside Journal. I hope you’ll read every article she wrote for this edition.
Hana Gilbert, our Communications Coordinator took the lead on arguably the most critical role that a Chamber can play in a time of crisis, syphoning through and disseminating key information to our business community in a timely manner. This has included creating a special weekly “COVID-19” Enewsletter, regularly updating the COVID-19 resource page on our website and sharing critical information through our various social media channels.
Our partnership with other North County business organizations was a tremendous bright spot for us as well. We teamed up with 8-10 other organizations, mostly Chambers, to advocate for businesses at every level of government. Most importantly, advocating for more small businesses to be allowed to open under the County health guidelines.
One of the partnerships that I am most proud of is the North County Cares program created in conjunction with the Vista Chamber of Commerce and San Diego North Economic Development Council. The purpose of the program is to support both families in need and the North County restaurants who have borne the brunt of the impacts of mandated closures and social distancing orders.
Donations have been used to purchase gift cards at participating Oceanside and Vista chamber member restaurants. The gift cards are distributed to representatives at the Oceanside and Vista Unified School Districts who are using the cards to provide meals to families in need in our community. You can read more about this program in this edition of our Quarterly Journal.
Additionally, I would like to recognize our elected officials at all levels of government for their leadership and accessibility during this crisis. Congressman Levin, Senator Bates, Assemblymember Boerner Horvath, Supervisor Desmond, Mayor Weiss and Councilmember Keim all participated in one or more of the Chamber’s Emerging Issues Forums to provide important updates to our businesses on the COVID-19 crisis.
Our City leadership, including Council and Staff have been inspiring in their dedication to helping our business community weather the COVID-19 storm. Beginning with the quick formation of the Oceanside Economic Recovery Task Force, our leaders determined to remove any roadblocks that businesses might face in the recovery process. Michelle Geller, the City’s Economic Development manager has been a key leader in the City’s efforts to make sure Oceanside maintains a business friendly environment. Our Chamber staff has been grateful to have such a responsive point of contact at the City when our businesses are in need of answers.
It has been an honor and privilege to see our community and our region come together so effectively to serve our businesses during this crisis. It gives me great hope for what we can accomplish together in better times.