New SDNCC chairman will continue organization’s member-centric focus
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Getting more members engaged in San Diego North Chamber of Commerce activities is among Steven Anderson’s goals.
Anderson, the senior human resources manager at Northrop Grumman’s aerospace group based in Rancho Bernardo, was installed as the chamber’s new board of directors chairman on June 29. He has been on the board since January 2011.
He said his predecessor, Angelo Damante, has done “a remarkable job” in his two years in the leadership post and credited Damante and Debra Rosen, chamber president and CEO, with turning the Rancho Bernardo-based regional business organization around after experiencing hard financial times three years ago.
“They have done a Phoenix job, rising from the ashes,” Anderson said, explaining most of what he wants to do as chairman is build upon the plan they set forth. It focuses on member engagement in the community and the chamber. “We’re asking them to work hard, not just asking them to sign a blank check, but to be involved,” he said.
Likewise, the chamber has had an increased focus on doing things its members want and demonstrating to them how their membership has value. While part of this is helping them network, Anderson said this goes beyond traditional mixers. Instead, via surveys and other membership outreach, chamber staff are learning about members’ concerns and issues and in response helping members get their concerns out to those in positions to make positive change, including local, state and federal government officials.
While the chamber is always looking to increase its membership base, Anderson said “we’re focusing on the people who want to be with us.”
Another focus is putting businesses considering coming to the area, leaving or expanding in touch with those in government who can make being in North County more appealing and feasible.
“We have identified a short list of companies at risk of leaving because the grass is greener financially (elsewhere),” Anderson said. “We’re meeting with them, bringing elected officials so they can connect and break down barriers.”
He also said it is important for chamber members and staff to remember that it is a regional organization and by looking at ways to positively influence the broader economic impact, through a trickle down effect, all businesses are likely to benefit — whether they are large corporations or locally owned mom-and-pops.
Of the chamber’s membership, Anderson said about 65 percent are small businesses with fewer than 15 employees each. While “it can be easy to get caught up in the glamour of big corporations, we have to be vigilant so that we don’t forget the organizations with (few) people,” he said. “Everybody who is a member is important, regardless of size.”
Anderson explained, “it all comes back to our mission — building a vibrant community through stronger commerce.”
As for why businesses should want to be a part of the chamber, he said it is because it focuses on North County, while other similar business groups have focuses on other parts of San Diego.
“Our chamber has been extremely successful because of its staff and board,” he said. “It is easy for a member to be involved on a committee or directly communicate … its needs, concerns and wishes.”
He added the chamber staff is quick to assist members, which he called “a huge benefit.”
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