In this week's Castro Valley Forum was an article ("MAC Delays Bail-Out Funding For Chamber") that contained some allegations regarding the Chamber. The Board of Directors of the Castro Valley/Eden Area Chamber of Commerce would like to clarify a few points.
There are a number of errors that were printed in the article:
- The MAC (Municipal Advisory Committee) did not "Delay" any funding from Alameda County ("County"). Instead, they voted to recommend a 30-day delay to present the County contract to the Board of Supervisors.
- The funding from the County is not a "Bail-out," as reported in the headline. It is assistance for the Chamber to deliver specific requirements in the Scope of Work outlined in an exhibit in the contract.
- The Chamber has not received $200,000.00 on an annual basis from the County. In 2012, the Chamber received $55,000.00 in assistance from the County and did meet many specific goals.
- The 7-month agreement is for $57,250.00, of which $13,500.00 is specifically restricted for street banners for the new Ashland Youth Community Center and the business district on E. 14th Street.
Additionally, when the Chamber was established in 1937 (then known as the Castro Valley Chamber of Commerce), it was independent of government funds for the first 72 years. Due to the expansion into San Lorenzo, Ashland, and Cherryland (where there was no Chamber for these unincorporated areas), the County began providing funding assistance to perform services and include businesses within this Eden Area.
Furthermore, public meetings were held on a monthly basis from June through November, 2012, to discuss the Chamber contract as well as a number of other programs the County had or wanted to fund. Meeting dates, times and locations were posted on the Chamber's calendar, as well as printed in the Castro Valley Forum. Meetings were held at the Castro Valley Library and the San Lorenzo Homes Association, Participants at these meetings included local business owners, citizens and community leaders, and a representative from the Alameda County Development Agency, Supervisor Nate Miley's office, and Supervisor Wilma Chan's office. From there, individuals and groups were encouraged to submit their support for items they felt would improve their community – the Chamber was one of the groups to submit support not only for assistance to its organization but also for assistance for other enriching programs.
Lastly, the severe economic downturn beginning in 2008 and the slow recovery that is still on-going has had an effect on businesses within the Castro Valley/Eden Area. Membership loss due to closed business and tighter budgeting as well as a reduction in sponsorship, both general and for certain events, has had its impact on the Chamber.
In closing, we do not feel that the MAC wants the Chamber to fail, and we do feel that accountability is important. We continue to strive for programs and benefits that promote local businesses and enrich the lives of those within our community.