By Mark Blackney
Sometimes I consider myself one of the luckiest men in the world when I consider the people I work and associate with. From our skilled and capable staff to our hundreds of members, officials in our city government and school district to the community itself, it’s easy to see why Clovis is considered the Number One City to raise a young family. I wholeheartedly agree.
The group I especially enjoy working with and depend on is our Board of Directors. These are the members who go the extra mile for the good of the Chamber and the community. We meet monthly for lunch but I also stay in contact the rest of the time. They head committees, volunteer at events and offer sage advice.
Our board is very diverse with many cultures, ages, genders and business types represented. Discussions are as varied as their personalities and experiences interspersed with lots of laughter.
On December 5th we held our annual Board Retreat at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building. We started the day long confab reviewing 2014 that was a very successful year for the Chamber.
Our two main events, BIG Hat Days and ClovisFest put up record numbers with huge crowds enjoying all the activities, craft and food booths and entertainment. We’re already lining up vendors and attractions for 2015.
Hooked on Books, part of the Chamber Gives Back program, held its fifth book distribution at Cole Elementary on December 19th where every child received a free book to keep as his own. Tears flow from the adults as big smiles of joy appear on the children’s faces. All funds for the book purchases come from business and personal donations. The goal of Hooked on Books is to visit every elementary school in the Clovis Unified District.
Our new Membership Director, Diana Hunnicutt reported that the number of new members has increased from last year. She has been busy registering some major companies in the Valley. With our mixers and other member events so successful, she has an abundance of members wanting to host future events.
Fran Blackney caught us up on this year’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy, the most intensive business course in the Valley. Every week, 24 high school students attend this after school class as they are creating and organizing their new businesses all in preparation for the March 25th Investor Panel. They are all so excited and are enjoying the program.
We then heard about plans for 2015 that include increased membership and event attendance, more book distributions and another Young Entrepreneurs Class. The day ended with a terrific presentation by Shel Moore of Moore Than SEO who showed us all the social media strategies they have in store for us. We already have over 17,000 followers across our social media platforms but they intend to increase our numbers. With our new mobile app, the Clovis Chamber will continue to be a leader in the use of technology.
And now I have January 15th to look forward to. That’s the date of our annual Membership & Salute to Business Dinner where we’ll install our new Board and chairman and honor our local business people.
I’ve enjoyed working with current Chair Shelley D’Arcy. She has a deep love for the Chamber that shows in her involvement and advice. Incoming Chair Gary Honeycutt has already given input on our programs with great ideas for changes. Both have been valuable assets over the years.
We will be honoring the Director and Ambassador of the year. Their names are top secret right now but the two recipients are worthy of the awards.
The Professional Business Woman 2014 is going to two remarkable women – Susan Frantzich and Joan Lassley of the Clovis Rodeo Association. Both have worked tirelessly for decades to make the Clovis Rodeo one of the tops in the country and a longtime Clovis tradition.
We’re also recognizing two Small Businesses 2014 this year. Ace Trophy, owned and operated by Jay Ogas and Seven Bar & Grill owned by Mike Mohammadi. Ace Trophy is the typical family business that started in Joe’s family home by his father and has grown and expanded into its present location on Pollasky Ave. He has fulfilled the Chamber’s award needs for many years. This year he gets to make one for himself! Mike Mohammadi brings years of culinary and restaurant management skills to Seven, located at Shaw and Minnewawa. It has been the host of many Chamber committee lunches.
The Chamber is proud to present the Einar Cook Leadership Award to Rod Geist of Central Valley Community Bank. He is the perfect recipient for this honor. Since joining the Chamber 10 years ago, he has always been active in major Chamber activities. The one he’s most proud of is The Chamber Gives Back, created while he was our Chairman of the Board 3 years ago. Rod volunteers his time reading to elementary school children in the city. He’s known as Super Geist and is well loved. He envisioned the Chamber providing a free book to every elementary school child in the city and Hooked on Books was started.
Rod is also involved in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where he serves as an instructor. He teaches the students about finances and oversees the production of their business plans. More importantly, he works with their presentations for the Investor Panel. As a public speaking major, Rod gives them valuable advice. The transformation of these kids from being shy to speaking with confidence is remarkable.
The Einar Cook Award will be presented by businessman Jerry Cook , Einar Cook’s son who has been a longtime supporter of the Clovis Chamber.
Yes, I’m the luckiest man in the world and 2015 is going to be even better.