Representatives from 21 businesses met at the New Life Christian Center in Portola on Jan. 18 to help develop a strategic plan for the Lost Sierra Chamber of Commerce, and discuss the role of the Chamber as a catalyst in helping local businesses become more resilient and sustainable in order to build a stronger community.
Guest speaker Clint Koble, a representative from the Small Business Development Center of California, noted the effects current challenges like COVID-19, shifts in demographics, and loss of financial aid from counties have had on economic development. He then shared current tourism trends impacting chambers and businesses:
- A growing appetite for travel.
- The needs of a “Millennial” demographic:
- Experiential Tourism: Enriching and authentic adventure and experiences.
- Personalization: More information on events and activities.
- Responsible Tourism: Environmental concern on sustainable business practices.
- Eco Tourism: Participation in environmental stewardship, i.e. volunteering to build a mountain bike trail.
- More three-day weekend getaways.
- More solo travelers, especially seniors.
- Growing demand for healthy, locally grown food.
- Convenience booking: more electronic check-ins.
Koble addressed the urgency in adjusting to changing trends, and shared insights and requirements for developing a solid strategic plan.
One of several ideas he shared was an invitation to an All-Plumas County Chambers of Commerce meeting which he is planning for Feb. 18 in Quincy, from 3-5 p.m. at a location yet to be determined. The hope is to get all Plumas County chambers working together to cross-promote the wonders of Plumas County in relocation packets and online, while also promoting each of their local chambers and businesses within the County.
At one point, Koble asked Jeff Engel, of Engel Construction and also chairman of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors, how he would describe Plumas County to a visitor. Engel replied, “It’s the most beautiful place to live, work and play.”
Koble talked about the value of a tag line such as this in marketing, and suggested chambers of commerce, in particular, look at developing a unique tagline to brand their individual areas.
Koble also provided information on upcoming grants for businesses and non-profits including the CA Small business COVID-19 Grant Relief Program, which opens another round of grant applications in February.
Several other attendees shared ideas to help the Lost Sierra Chamber move forward in updating its strategic plan. This included focusing on some of the positives that have emerged during the COVID-19 era like an increased interest in golf, mountain biking and other outdoor activities, and the trickle-down effect those industries have on other businesses and entities within the community.
The meeting concluded with the group discussing the importance of businesses working together to “tell the same story [of Plumas County],” and the need to change with the times and embrace electronic marketing options. The idea is to cross-promote each other, especially online, in order to create a stronger impact and interest in the area as a whole, especially with the younger demographic.
America’s SBDC represents America’s nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) – the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States and its territories.
SBDCs are hosted by leading universities, colleges, state economic development agencies and private partners, and funded in part by the United States Congress through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
For more information on getting involved with your local Chamber of Commerce, attending the All-Plumas County Chambers of Commerce Meeting in February, or getting more information on grants or other help from SBDC, please contact your local chamber office or Clint Koble at [email protected].