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“The Chamber is a one-stop shop for my small business needs”. #SFSBW2016 Interview: San Francisco Chamber of Commerce

#SFSBW2016 asked our business resources to share insights, best practices, and examples of how they help small business owners flourish. Today we hear from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

What is your organizations mission?2015 Warriors Tip Off Lunch_SF Chamber
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce attracts, supports and grows business through advocacy, economic development, and business development.

What are your organizations recent accomplishments that demonstrate how you have helped the small business community?
The San Francisco Council of District Merchants Associations and San Francisco Chamber of Commerce recently entered into a partnership providing Chamber memberships to all Council of District Merchant Associations members. The goal of the partnership is to expand the Chamber’s footprint into the various merchant corridors and offer Chamber memberships to a diverse representation of small businesses located across San Francisco.

What tools and resources has your organization created to help small businesses tap into new opportunities to reach new customers, increase their revenue, and grow their business?
The Chamber’s strategic partnerships with companies and organizations that support small business help to promote opportunities and share information to the small business community.

During the last year we have established partnerships with:
San Francisco Council of District Merchants Associations
San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce
Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA)
Small Business Association
Small Business Development Center
Small Business Network

The goal is to create mutually beneficial partnerships to help increase shared resources, participation and engagement with each of the Chamber’s strategic partners.

San Francisco has been experiencing quite the transformation. What is your organization doing to attract and support new and younger small business owners? What resources do you offer to entrepreneurs and small businesses to get started?
To help attract and support younger small business owners, the Chamber partnered with StartUp Socials and SF Beta to plan a technology and start-up showcase titled ‘Tech After Dark’. Exhibitors at the event represented a variety of industries within the tech space including IT, cloud based software, cyber security, HR and convenience technology, in addition to traditional businesses such as Wells Fargo and Comcast. With more than 300 people in attendance, the event appealed to the young professional audience and provided an opportunity for early stage start-ups to interact with sectors represented across all business.

The Chamber continues to support young professionals through our San Francisco Up-and-coming-professionals group (SF UP). The mission of SF UP is to help engage, develop and empower our next generation of business leaders through professional development, networking, volunteerism, philanthropy and public policy education. Open to all professionals and community leaders under the age of 40, the SF Up network offers access to key players in the public policy arena and provides opportunities for professional development. SF UP provides its members with the tools to be successful business leaders.

San Francisco is known for its diverse culture. How does your organization ensure that the small businesses that make this city unique are able to stay in San Francisco?
As the leading advocate for business in San Francisco, the Chamber provides leadership and takes action on the issues affecting the business community. In our monthly Pubic Policy and Small Business Committee meetings, business owners share issues facing their businesses and work collaboratively with the Chamber’s public policy team and city officials to negotiating compromises and resolutions.

The Chamber also encourages interaction with local elected officials through our monthly lunch series “Supes for Lunch”, that brings partners together with a different member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for an informal discussion focused on pressing policy issues. The Chamber’s Neighborhood Business Summit helps bring together local merchants, their elected Board Supervisor and city officials in each of the San Francisco’s 11 supervisorial districts to network, strengthen neighborhood business ties and dialogue about issues of concern. Summits are held quarterly in different San Francisco supervisorial districts.

Through these programs, the Chamber helps strengthen the business community and allow more businesses and people to stay and work in San Francisco.

What words of advice or wisdom would you like to share with small business owners?
Get involved! It is so important to stay informed, active and present in your neighborhood and the greater San Francisco community.

Hear from other small businesses that have used the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce to tap into new opportunities and grow their businesses.
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Office of Economic & Workforce Development leads SF Biz Connect, a business to business initiative from Mayor Edwin Lee to encourage spending in the business community. SF Biz Connect invites large companies to pledge to shift spending to small local companies and asks small companies to list their company on the local platform. Many companies are getting involved and sharing their successful business stories with us.

Here are some examples:

“The Chamber serves as an invaluable resource for information and policy that may impact my small business. The ability to attend the Chamber’s Small Business Committee, learn about regulations and legislation from the policy team, and discuss changes in laws with other small business owners makes the Chamber a one-stop shop for my small business advocacy needs.”

– Gwen Kaplan, CEO & Founder, Ace Mailing Corporation

“As a Chamber partner, I take full advantage of the great networking and business development events the Chamber puts on. The Chamber represents all types of businesses in San Francisco – big and small, and a variety of industries – and I know that when I attend a Chamber event I will have the opportunity to connect with people I may not run into in my normal day-to-day operations.”

– Drew Bagdasarian, President, DRB Associates

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