Times, They Are A-Changin’
by Kirby LindsayOn February 23rd, the Fremont Chamber of Commerce monthly Board of Directors meeting deftly dealt with many matters, but the historic significance of one deserves a special highlight.
A small group of fed-up business owners formed the Fremont Chamber in 1982. One of these founders, Jim Daly (of Daly’s Home Decorating,) believed in the power of a newsletter to organize people, and focus them on a cause. Daly had experienced this power as a leader in trade organizations.
So, in September 1982, Daly launched The Bridge, a newsletter distributed to area businesses. The first issues were typed, using carbons. Yet, Daly kept up with current times. Later issues were ‘printed’ on mimeograph, then copiers using cut-and-paste methods, and finally desktop publishing and a print shop.
The monthly newsletter today provides a rich historical record of the Chamber, and the development of Fremont over the last 30 years. Daly served as editor more on than off until his passing in 1999. Officially, I took over editorship in 2004, but while working for the Chamber (1990 to 1995) Daly trained me in his newsletter methods.
At the February 2011 meeting, the Chamber Board voted to scale back the monthly mailer from the four-page newsletter to a postcard, for three months as a trial. Cost-savings and environmental impacts were discussed as benefits, but also they questioned the relevance of a printed, mailed document. While many admitted that they still read the printed newsletter (thank you!,) most acknowledge a popular trend toward distributing information electronically.
The Chamber website, Fremont.com, and the weekly e-Blast notice, already exist as mediums for information distribution, often reaching people well beyond the business community. Chamber Executive Director Jessica Vets also intends to launch, in March, a monthly Business Bridge e-mail, with information specifically focused for business people.
In early February, the Chamber Board met for their annual strategic planning session. While they issued no specific report, the Chamber President Marko Tubic did mention five operational changes they’ve agreed upon, including transferring responsibility for membership solicitations to the Board as a whole (rather than a committee,) and the introduction of ‘Block Captains’ who will personally contact businesses on their block, or in a specific area.
The Board also agreed, at their retreat, to “rebrand” Fremont.com. After the retreat, but before this meeting, the marketing committee, which has overseen the website, met and suggested the website be repositioned and simplified, rather than rebranded. They also suggested formation of a new subcommittee to focus specifically on the website, and a redesign. The Board supported this suggestion, and new board members Stephanie Hara and Ken Saunderson volunteered to serve on the committee.
The Board “hot topic,” as described on the meeting agenda, was parking. Vets reported that the area narrowly avoided a rate increase for the Fremont parking kiosks (parking meters) thanks to lobbying efforts. Many people voiced continued frustration with the entire presence of the kiosks, and a playful, spontaneous brainstorming session erupted considering ways to express to City government the destructive impact the kiosks have on local business.
Jon Hegeman, of the Fremont Sunday Market, and Raymond Glandon, manager of the Fremont PCC Natural Market, reported on ways they’ve found to lessen the use of parking, and vehicles, by vendors and employees. The Board agreed that every effort to get employees to bus, bike and/or walk to work only helps the parking situation.
Such discussions, of serious solutions and/or comic gestures, can only be helped with more input. If you want to take part, and attend an upcoming meeting of the Fremont Chamber Board, stop by History House (790 N 34th) at 8am on the last Wednesday of each month (next one is March 30th!)
©2011 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.