Out and About articles have been a part of Chamber Weekly for a little over four years now highlighting over 200 Torrance Chamber businesses, as well as chambers I have visited when I have been out and about on a short excursion or a vacation.  

This weekend we visited the central coast, specifically San Luis Obispo, a city I absolutely love to visit.  The quaint, tree lined downtown area is lined with boutiques, small businesses, and restaurants.  The San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce is also a visitors’ center with several items on display and for sale by local artisans.  

Founded in 1904, the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce has been dedicated to serving their membership through work to enhance the economic prosperity and community well-being of San Luis Obispo County. It is the oldest and largest voluntary organization in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Visiting other chambers serves two purposes. The first is I can meet leadership and staff from other chambers and the second is I can learn about their chamber, their members, and the programs they offer.

One program caught my attention.  Jim Dantona, President and CEO, hosts a Facebook LIVE Working Lunch program each Friday.  Jim has hosted a variety of leaders and individuals since the series began. This past Friday his guest was Alan Iftiniuk, President and CEO of French Hospital Medical Center. Under his leadership, the past 18 years, the hospital has experienced many significant milestones in the areas of patient volume, financial performance, patient satisfaction, program enhancements and facility improvements. I enjoyed the program so much that I have listened to three others and plan to tune in to several more.

Businesses have had to endure several challenges the past 13 months and I asked Dantona to share information on the recovery phase of the Covid-19 pandemic and what the top priority of the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce is.” Our local government (and even some of the state bodies) cut a lot of the red tape and became much more flexible during the pandemic (e.g., allowing parklets in the right of way, tenant improvement credits and grant programs), which helped our businesses succeed. Our chamber is putting a major focus in maintaining that investment and flexibility from government as we go into the long road of recovery.

Additionally, the SLO Community is a tight-knit community and as the pandemic started to extend out for an indefinite time and our community not having an easy way to connect, a couple volunteers in our community started a Facebook group called HelpSLO. The idea of the Facebook group was to connect people in need with those who could help. It became so popular, they have grown it into a whole website and will likely be a resource long into the future,” stated Dantona.

It was a pleasure to visit the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.  San Luis Obispo is such a quaint city in which I look forward to visiting again real soon.  I appreciated the time in which Jim and staff took with me to create this Out and About article.

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