I am proud to announce the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce’s new regular column in the Santa Monica Daily Press, where we will discuss the priorities and concerns of the companies in our city, and our vision for the city’s overall wellbeing.

On this page, we will discuss monthly the ways in which the Chamber serves as a hub for civic engagement: advancing dialogue around advocacy issues, sharing news and tips from industry experts, hosting a range community events throughout the year, and supporting our local businesses.

The Chamber is a leader in supporting thoughtful, balanced public policies that reduce barriers to building and growing successful businesses in Santa Monica. Our policy priorities are the same as most Santa Monicans': a smart plan for our city’s continued growth, improved quality of life (traffic gridlock impacts businesses just as much as it does residents), and maintaining a competitive advantage within the region. In this column, we will explore the current policy issues of interest to our members — and hopefully to you, as well.

We will also present an industry spotlight, in which business experts in a range of fields will share the latest news from their sectors, as well as the exciting developments on the horizon. We pride ourselves on staying current with the latest local, national and international business trends and want to share those insights with you — as observers, consumers and investors. Want to know what the two-year outlook in the technology sector looks like? What’s up next in the entertainment sector? And what tourism trends you should be eyeing? Then keep checking back for real information from real experts, whom we are proud to call members.

We also know how to throw a party! We will use this column to invite you to our signature events throughout the year. These events are always a great place to reconnect with friends, neighbors and the shop-owner around the corner. Come try out a free Zumba class at our Wellbeing & Buy Local Festival in October, or hear from government leaders at our State of the City program in January. I hope you’ll join us for one of our upcoming events: the Organization of Women Leaders breakfast on March 2, and the Sustainable Quality Awards on April 16.

Lastly, we want to introduce you to some of our 1,000-plus members, which range from fitness studios to tech startups, from law offices to coffee shops, from hotels to bike rental companies. I guarantee that at least one place you already shop, play, visit or simply pass on the way to work is a member of the Chamber. Get to know that business better and learn why they value being one of our members. They may be a committee chair or one of our ambassadors — or maybe they’ve grown their customer base through Chamber connections. Their stories are Santa Monica’s stories, and we’re proud to share them.

We have been the voice of Santa Monica’s business community for 90 years. One of the keys to that longevity has been the fact that we are constantly working to support the shifting business and civic landscape of our city. One of our top priorities in recent years has been building bridges with the technology community currently booming in Silicon Beach. During the recent election, we registered young voters and hosted events with City officials at tech co-working spaces like ROC and Cross Campus. And we launched our first-ever Tech Startup Awards, which were presented last month at our State of the City event to five Santa Monica-based tech companies that inspire, innovate and have a viable path for growth.

The Chamber of Commerce stays effective by staying relevant. Initiatives like the Startup Awards not only recognize the importance of the technology community, but provide young companies with real opportunities for partnership with investors and mentors. The Chamber is uniquely positioned to serve this role.
You can learn more about these initiatives at our (soon to be relaunched with a new design) website: www.smchamber.com.

And while you’re there, take a minute to learn more about the work we do every day here at the Chamber of Commerce to build a stronger, healthier, more vibrant Santa Monica. I look forward to dialoguing with you on this page or around town. We are in this business — the business of community — together.

Laurel Rosen is the President and CEO of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. For more information, visit www.smchamber.com.

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