In her almost seven months as the new Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce President/CEO, Terri Crain has brought a fresh perspective to serving Santa Clarita’s businesses.
“What has been most rewarding is the fact that she continues to have great ideas and she’s not afraid to jump in with both feet and try new things,” said Dana Cop, Chairman of the Board of the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce.
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Originally from Santa Clarita, Crain worked as the executive director in what she described as a “chamber-like organization” in the city of Maricopa in Arizona. In addition to the considerable population difference (Maricopa has a population of 38,000), Crain noticed a difference in the tone of business owners.
“Here, it’s a feeling of hope,” said Crain, contrasting it with the general hopelessness she noticed in Arizona, “There is more of a sense of community rallying together to go forward.”
One of the first things Crain did to find out how she could help the local business owners was to survey the membership to find out what they needed or wanted.
“One of the things that came out of it was that the membership felt they were unable to talk to any of the leadership. So, I came up with this ‘Roundtable with the President’ idea to give the membership an opportunity to get in front of me and tell me how dissatisfied they are and why or how satisfied they are and why and to suggest ideas for different programs and things like that,” said Crain.
As a result of the “roundtables,” Crain found that there was a gap in services for businesses with 6-100 employees. She organized a business owners group that reflects the way that Crain approaches her job:
“I want them to create their own culture; I don’t want to tell them what their group should look like. They need to tell me what they want their group to look like. They want it to be a safe place for them to come to talk about real business challenges that they’re having.”
Also different than her work in Arizona, Crain has had to learn more about the political aspects of her job in the Chamber. She has already made two trips to Sacramento, first on KHTS’s bus trip and again this month with a group from across the state to talk to legislators about keeping the enterprise zones.
Crain’s work in the Chamber has been focused on building and supporting the membership.
“She’s changed things around a little bit, but she’s also been able to evolve some new programming for better member benefits,” said Cop.
“My primary focus moving forward is moving the membership back up to where we were a few years ago and also to focus more on the advocacy piece of what we provide to the chamber of members,” said Crain.