Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce gets makeover

Here is a myth-buster: The Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce is not folding.

Craig Schmidt, chief executive officer of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce, has fielded a few questions lately about the chamber’s status.

“For the first time since I took this position, I’m not fighting any battles,” he said. “I’m excited about our future. Morro Bay has good energy right now. The dialogue has never been stronger with our city staff and the collaboration we are building with Morro Bay’s tourism leadership. Our agencies have defined our unique roles to build Morro Bay’s economy and hired people to lead the charge.

“John DiNunzio has joined the chamber to develop our renewed focus on business development, including our new business resource center and incubator program. And I want to welcome Karen Moss as director of tourism. She was introduced to us last week by Joan Solu, chairwoman for Morro Bay’s Visitor Center & Tourism Bureau.”

By Jan. 2, the chamber’s offices will move to 690 Harbor St. and expand to 2,400 square feet. Its name will be slightly modified to better delineate its added responsibilities: Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce and Business Center. The visitor center will soon open at 255 Morro Bay Blvd.

“The chamber will continue to provide the values we currently offer our membership: networking, promotion and referrals to potential clients,” Schmidt said. “And we’ve secured a stronger position to be an advocate for our current businesses, mentor for struggling businesses and cheerleaders for new business development. We are partnering with the city and eight agencies, which already support business retention and creation. Our focus is business development.”

DiNunzio will act as a liaison for the business resource center. It will encourage struggling businesses to request tools to build new customers and pursue new and entrepreneurial businesses to locate in Morro Bay.

“A great idea for a business still needs a plan for its foundation,” said DiNunzio, a senior land use and transportation planner who has consulted in San Luis Obispo County for five years. “Our public-private partnership with the city allows us to work at the pace business works while within the city’s framework and still maintain what’s in the best interest for all concerned.”

Schmidt and DiNunzio are ready to launch the business resource center. The new address will accommodate the chamber’s membership referral information, meeting space for partners and the opportunity to nurture three businesses utilizing the incubator methodology. Call 772-4467 for details.

“Seventy to 80 percent of business startups fail in the first five years,” Schmidt said. “Our goal is to leverage existing resources to reverse that trend, building a vibrant economy for Morro Bay.”