Bakersfield Chamber Bolsters Local Small Businesses

At 1,300 members strong and representing more than 50,000 jobs in the Central Valley region of California, the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce is a heavyweight small business champion.

Since 1920, the Bakersfield Chamber has provided leadership, business education and networking opportunities to ensure a healthy business community, said Cynthia Pollard, president and CEO of the chamber.

The chamber offers a number of events catered to Bakersfield’s business community. One of the most popular is the Good Morning Bakersfield breakfast series, which takes a look at important issues currently affecting the community.

Pollard noted everything from hydraulic fracturing to finances has been covered in these quarterly events. The upcoming breakfast on November 10 focuses on the county hospital.

In efforts to educate members and business leaders, the chamber holds regular seminars where topics including social media, HR and workplace safety policies are discussed, while networking expos help connect business and community leaders to other organizations.

One of those organizations just happens to be Small Business Majority.

“We look for other businesses, entities and organizations that are pro-business, with common goals and common causes,” Pollard said. One of those common causes for the Bakersfield Chamber and Small Business Majority is immigration reform. Immigration reform would make it easier for local businesses to hire the 81% of California’s more than 10 million immigrant population who are working age adults and would help attract a more highly-skilled foreign workforce.

Immigration reform isn’t the only issue the chamber advocates for. “A government review council monitors and advocates on issues important to local businesses such as education, healthcare and taxes,” she said.

“[The chamber] advocates regularly on all levels on these issues trying to make sure that what’s passed and implemented isn’t going to negatively impact business,” Pollard said.

One of the most effective and successful programs the chamber sponsors is another breakfast series that focuses on networking opportunities for small businesses, where representatives from bigger businesses come to talk to them about ways they can do business together.

“There have been some real business connections and business leads and contacts that have come out of that program,” Pollard said.

With all of the hard work the Bakersfield Chamber does, they are seeing tremendous positive impact on the local business community.

“What we’re finding is that our businesses are optimistic,” Pollard said, commenting on a recently completed member survey that found 88% of chamber members say they value or extremely value what the chamber offers in comparison to annual membership dues and investment.

“Our goal at the end of the day is that we have helped create a stronger local economy by helping to retain and grow businesses that are here.”