HESPERIA • With a large map in the background, Hesperia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Yvonne Woytovich shared the joys and perils of the business organization’s journey.
“Our biggest challenge has been the economy,” Woytovich said during the State of the Chamber Luncheon on Monday. “But as we use the mission of the chamber as our GPS, we’re finding ways to get to our goal.”
As a result of traveling a fiscally conservative path, the chamber has been “in the black” six of the past seven years, Woytovich said.
That path saw the chamber’s revenue of $157,709 exceed expenses by nearly $12,000 during the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to GuideStar.org.
Woytovich said the chamber will continue to focus on its four key areas: education, leadership, promotion and networking as it works to achieve its mission.
As city, regional and business leaders finished their meals, Woytovich shared how three major chamber events, Mega-Mixer, Annual Mixer and Derby, netted the group approximately $23,000 during the past fiscal year.
Woytovich also explained how the purchase of the chamber’s own free-standing building on Main Street was a sign to the community that the chamber had planted roots, and now “owns a part of Hesperia.”
“We moved closer to the freeway so we could meet those new business owners as they get off the freeway,” Woytovich said.
One of those owners is Josh Grewal, who plans to open a Menchie’s frozen yogurt shop in the Gateway Shopping Center.
“We are excited about moving to town,” Grewal told the crowd. “Our shop has something for everybody, from those watching their weight to people with a sweet tooth.”
Grewal, whose motto is “community before commerce,” said the shop will open in October, and will be ready to help local schools and groups with fundraising events.
Before the meeting, Hesperia Councilman Russ Blewett shared how receipts from the city’s 2012 fourth quarter sales increased 12.4 percent over the year prior.
“We were aggressive in going after businesses,” Blewett said. “We paved the way by providing the infrastructure for new business and streamlined the process for new business.”
Fourth-quarter sales tax increased in all major business groups, except for fuel and service stations, according to a city staff report.
Blewett also explained how the city continues to expand without neglecting older parts of the city.
“We are not about a bunch of empty buildings, so we work hard to fill them,” Blewett said. “We don’t want any part of our city to be neglected.”
As several major Main Street businesses vacated their properties near I Avenue, new businesses quickly moved in.
“Stater Brothers moved into the old Albertsons, and then the 99 Cent store moved into their old building,” Blewett said. “That was not an accident; we worked hard to make that happen.”
Blewett said the Vallarta Supermarkets chain recently signed a 15-year lease, as it looks to occupy the former Vons supermarket building at Main Street and I Avenue.
Vons closed shop in January after 23 years in the same location.
The new Vallarta store should be ready for business by the first week in January, Blewett said.
Woytovich said goals for the new year include the involvement of area high school students in a variety of chamber events, the review and improvement of programs, and spending more face-to-face time with chamber members.
“It’s been an exciting journey and we have a way to go,” Woytovich said. “As we look to the future, we’ll need our partners and chamber members to help navigate our way.”
Information on the chamber can be found online at http://www.hesperiacc.com.