The Contra Costa Times put out an odd piece today which was contradictory to what is actually going on with the Oakley Chamber of Commerce as there really is no commerce even taking place or expansion occurring. The name needs to be changed to the Oakley Chamber of No Commerce.
The truth is, their events are pretty substandard, attendance is dismal, board members have quit, and their website still stinks. On the outside looking in, it appears this is a very dysfunctional group of people who care more about self-promotion than promoting the community. That or they just do not have a clue of how to run a Chamber of Commerce.
I mean no disrespect to the Contra Costa Times and Roni Gehlke, but where is the real reporting such as a comparison of the membership levels in 2011 compared to 2010 to 2009? How much money has been raised compared to last few years?
Instead, we get a simple profile of someone who has accomplished very little with the Chamber. It’s boring and says nothing new.
I mean no disrespect to Lynn Stahli, but the Contra Costa Times makes her look unqualified for the job as Chamber Manager based on the question and answers. I am sure Ms. Stahli is a nice person and works hard, but I really don’t care if she puts in more time than she is paid for, I want to see results and growth for Oakley!
Just take a look for yourself to some of the responses in the profile story.
Proudest Civic Achievement: As for her proudest civic achievement, Stahli said, “Updating the chamber website has been my biggest project this year.” Stahli has no real training in developing a website, but earlier this year she learned how to do it using an online program. “The new website is more user friendly and gives direct access to the chamber’s calendar so that people can see what is going on with the chamber,” she said.
If updating a Chamber website that still has no real information on it is the big accomplishment, I would encourage Chamber President Doug Scheer and the Board to issue a pink slip immediately. Kudos to Stahli for learning a program, but the lack of experience in web development shows and actually hurts the Chamber and Oakley businesses.
Take for example the welcome page; the main page is a picture of Live Oak Community Christian Church. No offense, but who cares? It looks like a Church Group’s website. Where is a picture of the last event? What about Information on the chamber membership such as the benefits?
The last newsletter was in July 27, 2011. Have they not done one since? Where are profiles on some of the businesses or coupons to encourage people to spend money locally? I could continue, but there is no point to point out all the shortcomings.
The real point is there is so much potential for the Chamber, but its lacking a clear direction and people who can improve it. Hell, just look at the upcoming event, it’s still showing December 8, 2011 for the December Mixer. January is less than a few days away.
Future Achievement: “In a town like Oakley, where there are few businesses, it is especially difficult,” she said. In the coming year, she wants to reach out to more businesses and hopes to increase membership. “I hope we can work with the city more,” she said. It is important for businesses to know we’re here to help them, but they have to partner with other businesses to make it all work,” Stahli said.
First of all, Stahli has been with the Chamber for a year, what does she mean she wants to reach out to more businesses? Why hasn’t she already done it? Where is the marketing material to improve membership?
She wants to work with the city more. Okay fine, how will the city help you when they themselves are already understaffed? The point is, the Chambers should not have to rely on the city for help nor should it rely on other businesses.
If the Chamber was set up properly, it would have a structure that automatically helps with referrals, gets partnerships started, and shows how networking together helps everyone. Their events would highlight a lot of these benefits.
If Rio Vista and Discovery Bay of all places can turn around their chambers and create a buzz, Oakley really has no excuse for such poor results.
The more I think about it, I believe it’s the people who are running the Chamber based off my own experience.
I attended their poor excuse for Christmas Mixer on Dec. 8. The mood seemed uninviting, people seemed like they didn’t want to be there, and the mood was as if people were waiting for something to happen that never did. To make matters worse, when I arrived, no one really came up and introduced themselves to me, not even the Chamber President who should greet each and every person whether they are a member or not. After about an hour, a few delicious deserts (I will admit, that was the best part and well done by whoever was in charge of the food) I left because there was no point to being there any longer.
I will continue to refuse to join the Chamber until they offer me a good return on my investment. What the Chamber fails to realize that it’s not about increasing membership and taking people’s money while doing nothing with it—it’s about providing a value to its members. It’s about promoting Oakley in every way possible.
If I was the City of Oakley, I would simply take it over and replace staff and the board in the best interest of the City, its businesses, its citizens and neighboring communities. It needs a complete makeover and revitalization if it ever is to be successful.
Under the current Board, there will never be a value because these people are more focused on their own businesses rather than promoting others. One would get more value in throwing their money in a fireplace to keep warm this winter rather than simply give it away to these knuckleheads.
At least burning money has a return as it keeps you warm.
Contra Costa Times Article: