As a result of the unprecedented economic impacts to local businesses from the COVID-19 crisis, business leaders from the Goleta Chamber of Commerce and The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region are announcing the merger of the two organizations, ensuring both a solid future for the business community and a unified voice for businesses throughout southern Santa Barbara County.

After several months of meeting with leadership and community stakeholders, the Boards of Directors of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce and The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region unanimously voted on April 22, 2020, to pursue the merger. The decision was made in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to best serve the needs of the region’s business community in this extraordinarily challenging moment.

“Although our two cities have distinct histories and identities that we are eager to preserve and celebrate, our economies are inextricably linked and our business community is stronger together,” said Geoff Green, CEO of the Santa Barbara City College Foundation and current chairman of The Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region.

“Combining our two organizations and our memberships ensures that our region’s business community will be in the strongest possible position as we work toward economic recovery from the pandemic.”

While the details of the exact configuration and even the name of the new organization are still being determined, the clear mission and vision is to unite the two organizations and promote the region’s economic priorities. Acting now to merge the two chambers of commerce is paramount to providing necessary support that includes streamlined resources and supportive economic revitalization strategies.

“More than ever, the voice of business must be heard,” said Bill Macfadyen, founder and publisher of Noozhawk and current chairman of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce. “The combined chamber will be a force for economic development and policy in Santa Barbara County, as well as in the cities of Goleta and Santa Barbara.”

Current staff members of both organizations are excited to shift to a new working model and to focus their combined efforts on business recovery and economic vitality in the region.

“After celebrating 142 years of serving our community, we recognize that these times call for innovation,” said Stephanie Armstrong, interim executive director of The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region.

“Our goal is to increase value for our members, create a unified voice for business, enhance connections for our members and promote the interests of all companies in our region.”

Many details of the merger will be worked out in the coming months, including merging websites, databases, Boards of Directors, signature events, and more.

“One of the pillars of a Chamber of Commerce is representing business to government and our unified focus will provide business representation at the city, county and state levels,” said Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce.

“The new chamber’s focus will continue relationships with city governments, as so much economic development comes through city policy.”

Current members of both organizations will remain members of the new greater organization and all members will be contacted soon about the benefits and priorities of the combined organization.

“Our regional business partnerships are invaluable,” said Bibi Moezzi, senior vice president of Pacific Premier Bank and a board member of the Santa Barbara chamber. “The united organization is dedicated to serving our members and ensuring that they receive an excellent return on their investment.”

In addition to both organizations’ signature events and membership offerings, the Goleta Chamber of Commerce runs a robust GoGoleta Visitor Campaign and The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region runs two visitor centers. Promoting our unique communities and offerings will remain a high priority for the merged organization, especially as we move toward economic recovery after the pandemic.

“Regional businesses like ours are eager to see a more focused regional effort for government relations and economic development in our area,” said Kirsten McLaughlin, market vice president of Cox and a Goleta Chamber of Commerce board member.

“This is an exciting development for our community.”

About the Goleta Chamber of Commerce: The Goleta Chamber of Commerce represents 450 members and 30,000 jobs in the region. Operating since 1947, the chamber envisions a community where businesses flourish, residents thrive, and visitors are inspired by our exceptional quality of life.

About The Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region: Founded in 1878, the mission of The Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region is to enhance and promote the regional economic environment through support of our members and collaboration with businesses, government, and community resources.

— Cortney Hebert Rintoul is vice president of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce.