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Chamber Memberships, Involvement Thrive in Southwest Riverside County

For the number of southwest Riverside County residents who commute out of the area to work, the growing membership rolls of local chambers of commerce are evidence that there is also a thriving business community right here at home. So what’s in it for members?

We posed that question to the local chambers, large and small, and here are the responses received, along with current membership counts and other useful information for those pondering joining a chamber or dusting off their membership plaque.

It is important to note that chambers are non-profit, 501c6 organizations, and that membership fees are partially tax-deductible as a business expense.

With 930 current members, the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce continues to grow. What is special and unique about TVCC, according to President and CEO Alice Sullivan, is that it provides targeted industry networks, such as Valley Young Professionals, which currently has 120 members.

“Valley Young Professionals provides the opportunity for those age 21-40 to become a part of a thriving network of young entrepreneurs, business owners and individuals seeking to grow their business,” Sullivan said.

In addition, TVCC’s Southwest California Manufacturing Council is “exclusive to manufacturing companies within the region,” she said. “The purpose of this resource is to focus on manufacturers working for and with other local manufacturers for the development of successful business strategies, management leadership, performance, excellence techniques and networking,” Sullivan said.

And to continue TVCC’s efforts to promote shopping local, Sullivan said they have also created an email marketing campaign,”2014 Restaurant Challenge,” which lists all member restaurants, highlights new restaurant openings and announces various discounts offered by local restaurants.

Its annual dues range from $50 per individual for Valley Young Professionals, to $300 and up for a company, based on the number of employees.

Further, the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce has a partnership contract with the City of Temecula through which it has historically received about $135,000 a year in exchange for providing services.

The Murrieta Chamber of Commerce also has a healthy membership, with approximately 815 current members on its rolls. That is up from just over 500 in June of 2012, according to President and CEO Patrick Ellis.

The jump can be attributed to staff members and the Chamber’s philosophy, Ellis said, of “just really trying to do the best for our community on an overall basis, and have fun doing it.”

While the Murrieta Chamber does not have a paid contract for services with the City of Murrieta, Ellis said it continues to work closely with the city, especially in terms of economic development. For instance, Ellis, along with city officials, attended the International Council of Shopping Centers convention May 19-20 in Las Vegas in a bid to attract more retail developers to Murrieta.

Ellis also noted that the Murrieta, Lake Elsinore Valley, Temecula Valley, Wildomar and Menifee chambers are part of a regional business advocacy coalition called the Southwest California Legislative Council.

“SWCLC’s mission is to provide a basis for the…chambers of commerce to act on local, state and federal government issues to secure a favorable and profitable business climate for the region,” according to its website.

“That is one of the reasons people in the community may want to keep us in mind: we have our best interest in heart,” Ellis said. He encouraged prospective members to think of joining the Murrieta Chamber—annual dues start at $300—as part of their marketing strategy and business operations.

The neighboring Wildomar Chamber of Commerce has a current membership of 164 members, with annual fees ranging from $50 for an individual to $400 for large businesses. It also has a Chairman’s Partners program with levels starting at $1,500 and going up to $8,000 per year.

“We do not get funding from our city, we are supported solely by membership revenue and donations,” said Wendy Mitchell, office manager for the Wildomar Chamber. “The thing that is unique about our Chamber is the sense of Community,” Mitchell added.

The Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce has 156 members, according to Janet E. Cook, executive director. The Canyon Lake Chamber charges members what it calls an investment amount, rather than membership fee. This ranges from $20 for an individual to $40 for non-profits and business associates, to between $80 and $290 for owner-operated businesses, based on the number of employees.

The Canyon Lake Chamber does not receive financial support from its city. “However the City and the Chamber have a strategic partnership so we each participate in many of each other’s endeavors,” Cook said. Like the other chambers, it welcomes members from outside its community.

“We are a small chamber that is able to offer personal attention to each member,” Cook said. “Our members come to know each other very well and do their best to help each other. We have Lunch n’ Learn presentations that are alternated with community luncheons so we can support our members, businesses and residents.”