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Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce Launches Into New Year with Changing of the Guard

Members gather at Santa Barbara Aviation to swear in new officers, look back on their accomplishments in 2013 and plan ahead with goals for 2014

Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce ambassadors for 2014 were sworn in for duty Wednesday night during the business organization’s annual membership meeting at Santa Barbara Aviation.
Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce ambassadors for 2014 were sworn in for duty Wednesday night during the business organization’s annual membership meeting at Santa Barbara Aviation.  (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce ushered in a new era Wednesday night during its annual membership meeting, hosted from an airplane hanger at Santa Barbara Aviation.

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.

Goleta chamber
The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce saw a changing of the guard Wednesday night when 2013 board chairman Tony Vallejo, left, handed the gavel off to 2014 board chairman Don Donaldson. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Vallejo’s favorite highlight involved GEM, which is the chamber’s year-old partnership with the City of Goleta and UC Santa Barbara to attract and foster local tech startup businesses.

GEM saw its fair share of successes in 2013, he said, with the appointment of Executive Director Doug Lynch and a lease for a physical incubator space in Old Town.

“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.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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