Archives for June 2013

Taking Steps to Involve Home-Based Businesses

Stefan Didak and I met with Cecelia Nichols-Fritzler on June 13th to discuss plans for a business workshop (stay tuned for details), and as a result of that discussion we also scheduled an event that will move the Oakley Chamber closer to one of its goals for this year: reaching out to home-based businesses.

There were almost 400 businesses with home occupation permits as of January 2013. That means that home-based businesses account for roughly half the business licenses in Oakley. The Chamber Board has discussed ways in which the City of Oakley might serve its home-based businesses during some of its Breakfasts with the Mayor (e.g. creating a co-working space or business incubator), but only a few home-based business owners are Chamber members, so we don’t know enough about what kinds of home-based businesses we have and what would benefit Oakley residents who work from home.

On Tuesday, July 23rd, we will hold a Home-based Business Roundtable in the City Council Chambers, modeled on the Diane Burgis’ Nonprofit Roundtable. Everyone with a home-based business is invited to attend to share challenges and success stories, meet your colleagues, and find out what resources are available to you. There is no charge to attend.

RSVP to the Oakley Chamber Office at (925) 625-1035 or [email protected]

If you’d like to help spread the word, you can download a printable flyer by clicking the image below.

Home based business Flyer

Join Us for the Citizen of the Year Awards at the June 25th City Council Meeting

We’d like to thank all the people and institutions that helped us get the word out about nominations for the Citizen of the Year Awards, including Mayor Kevin Romick, the Oakley Press, and the City of Oakley.

Last year’s Chamber Board made the decision to cancel the Citizen of the Year Awards dinner due to lack of community participation. The Chamber sent out more than 11,000 nomination forms and received fewer than 10 nominations. The demographics of Oakley have changed, and many people do not know their neighbors, or have energy to spare to consider who might merit such an award. It seemed unlikely that anyone outside the immediate families of the winners would attend an awards banquet.

This year’s Board of Directors felt strongly that even if participation was low and indications were that a banquet would not be financially viable, there are people in Oakley who deserve public recognition for the contributions they make to the community. We set up an online nomination form in addition to distributing paper forms at Councilmember Burgis’ new Nonprofit Roundtable meetings and at other Chamber events.

Participation remained low, but all of the nominees were extremely worthy people, so even though there were not many nominees to choose from, the choice was not easy.

We will be presenting the awards at the beginning of the June 25th City Council Meeting. We want the winners to get the maximum possible public recognition, and recent experience suggests that the winners would get less attention than they deserved if we required their friends and families to pay $40/per person to attend a banquet during a recession.

Please join us on June 25th to honor these members of our community who have given their time and energy to help their fellow residents and make Oakley a better place to live. As with all City Council Meetings, the event is free and open to the public.

About the Almond Fest

Ben Toasted, the Almost Festival mascot

Ben Toasted, the Almond Festival mascot

Many people have been asking recently about the Oakley Almond Festival. Because the Chamber of Commerce was one of the main sponsors we would like to update the residents of Oakley on the status. Sadly, we will not be holding the Almond Festival this year.

The Almond Fest in its familiar form came to an end because it was no longer possible to get the carnival, and the rides were the biggest attraction. The carnival pulled out of the 2011 Almond Fest at the last minute, leaving the Chamber in an awkward financial position and the citizens with a disappointing event.

There’s also been some debate as to whether “Almond Fest” represents who we are as a city and a chamber. Older residents feel nostalgia for the almonds; newer residents may never have seen an almond tree in Oakley. The primary crop grown in Oakley for the past several decades has been grapes; hence the new “Water and Wine” theme the City is pursuing. Yet, with only one small winery actually located in Oakley, we’re not ready for a full-scale wine festival.

The City of Oakley will be holding its new Heart of Oakley Festival downtown on Main Street on September 14th, 2013–approximately the time of year at which the Almond Fest normally took place. The Chamber of Commerce is one of the sponsors of the Heart of Oakley Festival and will be providing the Beer and Wine Garden, offering wines made from Oakley grapes.

This should not be taken to mean that the Heart of Oakley Festival is a replacement for the Almond Festival. Heart of Oakley is essentially a City event. Admission is free and revenue from booth rentals goes to the City.

We’d love to hear your suggestions for an event to replace the Almond Fest—one that would attract locals, out-of-town visitors, and vendors. Please contact us!