Members of Farmersville’s business community plan to either create or revive a chamber of commerce in the city.
Their next move depends on what members of the board of directors of the Farmersville Chamber of Commerce, which ceased operation in 2011, decide to do.
“The simple path is working with the past board,” said Raymond Macareno, a consultant with the Tulare/Kings Hispanic Chamber, who is also involved in this effort. “We asked if they wanted to stay on the board. From the feedback I got, they didn’t seem interested.”
Even so, the new group is waiting for their response.
“We have to be respectful that they are the board of directors,” explained Macareno. “If it happens to be that they don’t respond, we will start our own chamber. If they don’t come to a conclusion, we’ll start our own chamber.”
In addition to an existing bank account and articles of incorporation, the most recent Farmersville Chamber had an office in a city-owned building on Front Street, which was leased for what Macareno called “a very small fee.” He said the new chamber plans to ask to lease the office at a similar cost.
Twenty local businesspeople attended the March 13 meeting at the Pizza N Pub Restaurant, which launched the current effort. The meeting organized by local musician Freddy “DJ Musicman” Espinoza, with assistance from Macareno.
In addition to helping establish an active chamber in the city, Macareno’s role will be to ensure the group is following general accepted accounting principals, Robert’s Rules of Order, and best practices in board recruitment and development, membership services, fundraising and event planning.
“From the initial meeting, I think you’re going to see more participation than in the past,” said Macareno. “From talking to past executive board members, they didn’t have the volunteers to execute their goals.”
The meeting was announced in a release issued by Farmersville Mayor Pro Tem Gregorio Gomez, who “took heat” from others on the Farmersville City Council about the release being on city letterhead. “The city made it clear that it’s not going to take an active role in it,” said Gomez. “I was told that if I was going to be a part of the chamber, it wasn’t as a city representative.”
Farmersville is the only city in Tulare County that doesn’t currently have a chamber of commerce.
“I think it’s very important that our businesses have something where they can come together and advocate for themselves,” said Gomez. “(A chamber) can promote the city to bring in more businesses because that way we can improve our tax base.”
“A chamber of commerce can unite businesses with the goal of stimulating economic development,” said Macareno. “When you see what a chamber of commerce can do, there’s a lot of interest in having it in the community.”
“With the chamber, we really want to connect with the community,” said Espinoza, who wants the chamber to help plan festivals and other events. He also hopes to see the chamber have a website and Facebook page, which would provide news and information about events and the current needs of the chamber.
“One of the ideas I had was a campaign to get people to buy local and get them to realize when we shop outside the city, the tax money stays there,” he added. “We go shopping a lot in Visalia, but we need to make a conscious effort to keep things in town.”
“The passion and motivation of the group is encouraging and I look forward to the growth in momentum toward efforts in more events and activities for Farmersville and Tulare County residents to enjoy,” said Macareno.
He noted the success of the Friday Night Marketplace in Lindsay and said he would like to see a similar event in Farmersville, as well as “iconic special events to attract businesses to open shops in Farmersville.”