As of July 1, Santa Barbara County’s South Coast chambers of commerce will be headed up by Kristen Miller, president and chief executive officer of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce for the last 18 years, who will lead the umbrella organization as CEO.
Merger of three of South Coast’s key business organizations, the Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region, Goleta Chamber of Commerce and Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce, will form “Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce – from Goleta to Carpinteria.”
“The new organization will be mobilizing the power of our 1,100 members to create a better business environment out of the devastation of the current economy,” said Miller in a press release. “We believe this organization will fill the void that has been exposed by the economic meltdown, and be a more effective advocate for our issues and concerns.”
She said, “If our community is going to recover, it will be the small business community that leads the way, and they can’t do it without this organization providing the vital support and resources.”
Miller said the new organization was formed by the unanimous support of the business and civic leaders from all three boards of directors.
“Recognizing that the business community already has connections throughout the three cities, the united group best represents business and community needs across government boundaries,” she said.
Curtis Lopez, chairman of the Carpinteria chamber board, said, “As our current business climate continues to evolve, we tried to forecast our members’ future needs and give Carpinteria a stronger voice in the South County. Being a native Carpinterian, I did not take this merger lightly, but I and my fellow board members believe this is our future.”
The new chamber will continue its work helping businesses, residents and visitors thrive, officials said. “Key work will be advocating for responsible public policy, offering networking and community-building opportunities, providing access to business development resources, and supporting visitor services across the region,” officials said.
“Creating a unified voice for business on the South Coast is both the culmination of a long process and at the same time a natural next step in a rapidly changing world,” Miller said. “Business and community, work-life balance, and sustainable workforce practices are all coming together and making us a more unified community. While some areas of our lives are becoming more isolated, we are coming together.”
Joyce Donaldson, president and CEO of the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce will serve as the new organization’s chief operating officer and Carpinteria liaison, overseeing operations and “Carpinteria-centric initiatives.” With 17 years of chamber leadership experience, Donaldson has served as head of the Carpinteria chamber since 2015.
Stephanie Armstrong, interim executive director of the Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region, will serve as the organization’s chief marketing officer, overseeing communications, marketing and public policy. Armstrong is fourth-generation Santa Barbaran. She has been with the chamber for nine years.
“The current economic and cultural climate we find ourselves in calls for change, innovation, and unity,” said Armstrong.
“By joining forces, we will be a stronger, more unified voice with the combined leadership from our three organizations in achieving our common goal to help our businesses and represent the unique qualities of our communities,” she said.
Posted on June 29, 2020.