Name: Linda Hendy
Job: President and chief executive officer
Organization: Atascadero Chamber of Commerce
What they said then: In April 2011, Linda Hendy began as president and CEO of the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce. Previously the vice president of operations for the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce, Hendy was selected from a pool of 70 applicants. She served 11 years as the chief financial officer for the Newport Chamber of Commerce.
With an annual budget of $330,000, the Atascadero chamber had 475 members at the time.
What she says now: The chamber has grown to 510 members, including businesses from surrounding cities.
Its the first in the county to organize special programs for younger members, forming the North County Young Professionals. Since October, the group holds quarterly mixer and education events. The most recent was Thursday evening at Guest House Grill on El Camino Real.
With an emphasis on mentoring and education, the group is geared for those 40 and under, but we try not to put an age on it, Hendy said. We look for the mentoring from the seasoned professional.
There is an independent organization, the Young Professionals Networking Group. It isnt affiliated with a chamber of commerce.
For years, marketing and economic experts repeatedly told chamber members they needed to be open evenings and weekends. A bedroom community, Atascadero residents tend to work in other cities.
On the other hand, a number of the citys businesses are mom-and-pop shops that struggled to cover evening and weekends with few or no employees outside the family.
With the opening of Galaxy Colony Square Theatre, Hendy said the city has more restaurants and other businesses open during these prime slots. Theyve also helped draw nightlife from areas including San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles.
If you have the right product here in Atascadero, they are starting to come, she added. Theyre also trying to do a lot of art in Atascadero. A lot of artists and galleries are going in downtown.
On March 30, the Colony Art Crawl offered an evening art show and mixer. The event featured Haven Wine Bistro, artist Michael Ackerman and The Spa Central Coast.
Atascadero Main Street organizes quarterly Art and Wine Tours. Participating downtown businesses stay open late and display the work of an artist and a local winery to pour tastes.
Looking ahead, Hendy said the Atascadero chamber is already preparing for centennial celebrations in 2013. The city commemorates its founding with annual Colony Days events in October.
Were working on a marketing plan and sponsor outreach for next years festivities, Hendy said. Its one of the biggest community events.
In June, the chamber will launch a new website with a sizable senior living section and links to Central Coast businesses and services.
I think thats something thats missing in our county, said Hendy, who envisions it as a hub for information on everything from adult day care to travel and medical offers.
Theres quite a bit of senior information out there, but its not in one location, she added. That will also benefit our members because it will be driving people to our website. Everybody benefits from the senior market.