After a period of turmoil in which the City of Hanford considered ending its service agreement with the Hanford Chamber of Commerce, Joey Joslin, the chamber’s executive director, resigned.
Board member Linda Silveira replaced him as interim executive director on December 17 and the chamber is searching for a new leader. The chamber board remains the same, Silveria said.
Joslin was executive director for two years.
The city council voted 4-1 on August 6 to give the chamber a 60-day reprieve in order to remedy its problems including a lack of focus on its core mission, financial expenditures for operating a ceremonial fire truck and the downtown carousel.
Councilman Francisco Ramirez, who wanted to end the service agreement, was critical of the chamber’s operation. The city supports the chamber financially and the chamber also gets money from member dues. Ramirez said chambers in Tulare and Selma make money and do not depend on their respective city’s budget for financial aid.
During the period July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 the city gave the chamber $87,500, according to the terms of the previous agreement between the city and the chamber. Each fiscal year thereafter the amount is reduced by $10,000, according to the agreement.
The reason the city pays the chamber money is it relieves the city of the obligation to recruit and retain businesses, said Mike Olmos, then interim city manager last August.
When Joslin addressed the council last August he said the chamber was involved in too many activities and needed to get back to its core mission of helping members and recruiting and retaining members. The operation of the ceremonial fire truck and the carousel costs the chamber $8,000 – $10,000 per year, Joslin said.
In effect, Hanford has two chambers of commerce, one just for downtown businesses called Main Street Hanford and the Hanford Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses throughout the city.
One of the issues during last August’s discussions was whether there is enough money to support both organizations. Main Street Hanford is funded by a double business tax on downtown businesses as well as other sources. It sponsors the Thursday night market during summer and a wine and chocolate event during winter.
Silveira said her goal is to make the chamber better. In order to improve operations the chamber on December 17, 2019 hired Jennifer Beliveau to assist with marketing, Silveira said.
Besides recruiting and retaining businesses the chamber has ribbon cuttings and grand openings for new businesses and sponsors business mixers.
Silveira said the chamber is in the process of reviewing a new agreement with the city.