Chamber members celebrated accomplishments of 2013 while welcoming new plans, priorities and officers to direct the organization in 2014.
The packed mixer-like gathering was fittingly hosted somewhat within a chamber achievement, since the organization is in the process of teaming up with the Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet and Santa Barbara Aviation to offer a new ride-sharing flight service that connects local business people to Silicon Valley.
Chamber of Commerce President Kristen Miller took a moment to thank sponsors and attendees before passing the microphone off to board chairman Tony Vallejo, who congratulated staff and members on another outstanding year.
“It’s always easier to do this when we’ve had a great year,” Vallejo joked.
The outgoing chairman said membership officially returned to pre-recession levels in 2013, which also showed success on the business advocacy and tourism fronts. Vallejo added that the chamber now spends $150,000 annually on efforts to get visitors into Goleta.
“We’re getting there, Vallejo said.
He introduced new executive board members and announced the 2013 Ambassador of the Year as Kate Schwab, the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization's marketing and communications director. The Chairman’s Award went to Bacara Resort & Spa General Manager Kathleen Cochrane.
Vallejo then passed the chairman gavel to Don Donaldson, along with a few words of encouragement.
Donaldson proudly revealed that 90 new members joined the chamber in 2013, which paved the way to secure 500 total members sometime in 2014.
Some goals this year will be in line with last year, Donaldson said, noting tourism, revenue neutrality, Old Town revitalization and Goleta Beach Park as areas of focus. He added that the chamber was also already looking forward to fall elections.
“This is going to be a great year,” Donaldson said.