By Elizabeth Marie Hinchak
As federal government leaders work to minimize impact of the fiscal cliff and improve a national economy that shows few and slow signs of improvement, local business organizations are focusing on helping the North County.
Debra Rosen, president and CEO of San Diego North Chamber of Commerce, said the “doom and gloom” some are predicting is “understandable due to the uncertainty and urgency of the situation.
“However, the chamber remains positive and is preparing for 2013 with a combination of approaches that span economic development, public policy and health care,” she said.
To do this, Rosen said chamber leaders identified key areas that affect the business community along with ways to develop solutions and nurture collaborations that strengthen the region’s economic climate.
To improve economic development, Rosen said there needs to be a focus on both business and workforce development that includes innovation and education.
“Efforts in these enterprises will go beyond simply sustaining the region’s diverse business community, but will grow and attract businesses to San Diego and help keep our region at the forefront of innovation,” she said.
Regarding public policy, the chamber is focused on creating competitive business climates through initiatives and programs that have a positive fiscal impact on economic growth opportunities and business operations, she said. These include those with ties to national security, the military community and defense industries in the region.
“Many of these tasks are time sensitive, which requires us to be proactive in our research and analysis of proposed legislation and various policy efforts at the local, state and federal level,” she said.
As for health care, Rosen said the area’s many health care related industries also “play an important role in shaping the region’s economy.” Recent health care reforms she said “will undeniably consume a considerable amount of resources as businesses adjust and prepare for various deadlines that will roll out in the next four years.”
In response, the chamber will help educate local businesses on health care issues specific to the region that impact their bottom lines and workforce productivity, she said.
Rosen added that through the chamber’s membership, the organization is able to support businesses of all sizes.
A similar approach is being taken by the Rancho Bernardo Business Association, which is also looking for ways to help its members in the community. President Larry McIntyre said because all signs point to “caution, slow growth ahead” due to Proposition 30 — the state sales and income tax increase voters passed last November — along with health care changes and other state and federal tax changes, businesses will have to decide which fork in the road to follow during 2013.
“If we take the right road we will get through 2013 in decent shape,” he said. “This is going to be the year of creativity.”
He said businesses will have to find new ways to market and promote their product or service that will include thinking out of the box.
“Be a step or two ahead of the competition and you have a much better chance of continued success,” said McIntyre, a longtime business owner. “Check all phases of your business. Break down each segment and study what you can do better in each segment.”
McIntyre said RBBA will continue to encourage its members to do as much member-to-member business activity as possible. Besides going to each other for their needs — McIntyre said last year he utilized at least eight or nine RBBA members for things ranging from printing to a bathroom remodel — the organization will promote member interactions via networking breakfasts and emails sharing members’ information.
“The (RBBA) board is having its annual retreat in February where the number one topic will be how to help our members increase their business,” he said. “We hope to come out of that retreat with a variety of new ideas.”