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New Mission Viejo Chamber of Commerce Elects First Government

It's been three years since Mission Viejo had its own Chamber of Commerce. A new group of business leaders wants to bring it back.

Editor's note: Until the end of 2011, Patch will be republishing some of the year's biggest news stories in Mission Viejo.

Mission Viejo's first independent chamber of commerce is one step closer to being in business after a new interim government was voted in Tuesday afternoon at .

About 30 local business people met to discuss the formation of the city's first organized business presence in three years and to elect its leaders.

When the economy tanked in 2008, the South Orange County Regional Chamber of Commerce disbanded its local chamber affiliates. The affiliates represented six Orange County cities, including Mission Viejo.

"From a budgetary point of view, it wasn't working out," former Mission Viejo Chamber President Dennis O'Connor said.

The regional chamber focuses on advocacy and education, working with governments in the interest of local businesses, O'Connor said.

The local affiliates once held ribbon-cuttings and mixers that gave businesses a way to interact and make their interests known. The new chamber's board hopes to restore those opportunities.

Peter Cross with ISU Insurance Services says the idea came about during a conversation he had with realtor Cathie Berlin in May.

Cross put the first $100 toward the formation of a new chamber in a bank account provided by .

The city got behind the idea, with Mayor Dave Leckness moderating the first meeting of the new chamber. With just 24 hours notice, a group of about 30 business owners, managers and other professionals met to form the new group, which will keep its interim government through 2011.

"I think the marketplace in Mission Viejo has, is and can be a powerful institution," said Karin Krawiec, who owns with her husband Keith.

Krawiec was elected president of the interim board.

Board member Steve Fredriksen, a financial service professional, said the gathered board seemed enthusiastic. He said the formation of a new chamber was a hopeful sign.

"Sometimes you don't know what you've got till it's gone," he said.

There's a need for a local chamber separate from the regional group, said Wendy Bucknum, who serves on the SOCRCC board.

"Mission Viejo is traditional and its business owners are in it for the long haul," Bucknum said.

In addition to Krawiec, here are the members of the interim board:

The position of treasurer will be decided in a future meeting.

Mayor Pro Tem Dave Leckness August 24, 2011 at 09:52 PM
Answer to Shripathi - In today's competitive world, in order for Mission Viejo to remain a strong and thriving community it's essential that we have successful local businesses. Business is the goose that lays the golden egg for a community. Small business employs our children, our spouses and it invigorates our economy.
Dan Avery August 24, 2011 at 10:46 PM
Shripathi, a chamber of commerce helps small businesses in a variety of ways. The typical small business is ten or less employees. An owner has to be all things. Networking events through the chamber are great ways to pick up strategies, ideas, tips, etc in areas where you are weak. Side Six has been asked to do the web site. I plan to have a forum online, which will give members another way to communicate. There are also plans for a component that would allow businesses to search for potential sites and receive demographic reports such as the surrounding areas ages, genders, incomes, etc. This component will also be valuable for existing businesses who are planning marketing campaigns. So as a citizen it will impact your life because the business community will be more able to give referrals to other businesses, more able to serve your needs, and it will thrive thus providing more sales tax dollars to the city. As a business owner yourself, you should definitely join.
Margot Ferron August 26, 2011 at 12:33 AM
I was crazy happy to see Mission Viejo get a chamber of commerce. In this tough economy businesses need the support of the communtiy, but it works for everyone. It is a marketing, goodwill, public relations and its benefits are endless!! Congrats big time!
Dan Avery August 26, 2011 at 02:40 AM
Thanks Margot! We had our first board meeting today and things are progressing nicely. It's a great mix of people so far!
Peter Schelden August 26, 2011 at 11:54 PM
That's good to know, Margot. Thanks for commenting, and thanks for reading Patch. If you or anyone else would like to get regular updates, you can head to http://www.facebook.com/missionviejopatch and "like" us from your own Facebook account.

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