Alameda chamber shifts direction
The Alameda Chamber of Commerce has “hit the refresh button,” the chamber’s president has said, letting go of its longtime director and working to rebuild the local business organization’s membership and finances.
Board president Barbara Marchand outlined a series of new initiatives the chamber is undertaking, including a member survey, promotions and a fresh slate of events aimed at building the chamber’s membership. She said those efforts and the chamber’s new offices at Alameda Towne Centre are having their desired effect, drawing new members.
The chamber opted not to renew executive director Melody Marr’s contract in order to save money, Marchand said, and the chamber is now being managed by Renee Kellogg, who has served in a variety of positions over the several years she’s been there. In addition to increasing its visibility, the chamber’s move to Towne Centre from its previous digs on Park Avenue helped the organization save on rent.
“Our commitment is to have the chamber succeed,” Marchand said this week.
Marr said the chamber board told her on July 23 that they were not going to renew her contract, which she had held for eight and a half years. She said she was “very sad” to leave her chamber post, which she called a “perfect” job.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and I really want to thank the community for their support,” Marr said.
Marr, whose grandparents settled in Alameda at the turn of the 20th century, said she worked to build an ambassador program that trained volunteers to spread the good word about the chamber and to put on a series of events with top-flight guests like U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, California Attorney General Jerry Brown and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Phil Matier. She also initiated plans to reorient the chamber so that it would also work to draw visitors to the Island.
But over the last few years the plummeting economy drove down the chamber’s membership and sapped its finances. Before she left, Marr was working part time, and she said she had taken a pay cut.
Marchand said the chamber’s board has been helping out with some of the new initiatives, including the survey and helping to sponsor events.
The chamber is holding a membership drive where it is offering 15 months of membership for a 12-month price, and it has a series of events coming up, including a crab fest, a Mardi Gras event and a golf tournament. The chamber is also preparing for its annual expo, which will be held on October 19 at the Albert H. DeWitt Officers Club at Alameda Point. The chamber is offering lower-cost tables for participants in the event alongside the more expensive booths it has traditionally offered.
“Things are happening,” Marchand said.