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The Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Pandemic in 2020

The world changed for all of us in March.

When the pandemic hit, everything was so uncertain. We tried our best to educate business owners and support them during an unprecedented time. In June, we wrote an article titled, A Letter from the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce | Support Local Businesses which highlighted everything we did for businesses from March through June. Click on the link to read that article.

During the second half of the year, the Chamber worked hard to bring back a sense of normalcy, deliver exposure and services to our sponsors and members, and fought to support businesses struggling during the pandemic.

Business As Usual

The Chamber never shut down during 2020. We changed some of the ways we do things, but we never stopped serving our mission to be catalysts for business growth, conveners of leaders and influencers and champions for a stronger community.

We continued to host our Business @ Breakfast events every Wednesday, held several Pizza & Politics events, several evening Mixers and even held a handful of Ribbon Cuttings.

We kept our commitments to our sponsors by re-imagining our major annual events. Thank you to our Chairman’s Circle Sponsors for continuing to support the efforts of our Chamber!

Taste of the Chino Valley – #CVRestaurantMonth

In August, we re-imagined our Taste of the Chino Valley and titled it, Chino Valley Restaurant Month, aka #CVRestaurantMonth. We contributed to at least $13,000 in business generated to Chino Valley Restaurants. Learn more about our #CVRestaurantMonth campaign by reading this article – https://chinovalleychamberofcommerce.com/2020/12/30/results-for-chino-valley-cvrestaurantmonth/

CVCC Golf Tournament

In September, we hosted our first CVCC Golf Tournament in more than a decade at Western Hills Country Club and sold out. Those who played said they had a great time and we were able to use those funds to support the efforts of the Chamber.

Chino Valley Chamber Business Expo – #CVBizMonth

In November, December and January we re-imagined our Business Expo into a Virtual Business Expo called #CVBizMonth. For #CVBizMonth we are highlighting approximately 70 Chino Valley businesses.

So far we have reached 98,890 people on Facebook with 1,323 reactions and 22,554 minutes of our videos have been watched.

On Google, we have reached 97,954 people a total of 236,660 times.

Via email, we have emailed regularly to our 2,000 members and will continue to do so throughout #CVBizMonth. Every time we send a #CVBizMonth email, we are including the link to our #CVBizMonth page – https://chinovalleychamberofcommerce.com/business-expo/

Lastly, we are encouraging our members to use the #CVBizMonth hashtag to do businesses with those participating #CVBizMonth and Chamber businesses.

See #CVBizMonth on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/CVBizMonth

See #CVBizMonth on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/cvbizmonth/

During #CVBizMonth we have recorded many videos from our businesses who have shared why they got into business, who they can help, how the coronavirus has impacted their business and how you can support them and their business.

With the video content we created, the City of Chino has agreed to let us share those videos on their Public Access Channel. From my understanding, the Chamber will be airing content every weekday from 11am to 12pm.

Holiday Luncheon

During our Zoom Holiday Luncheon we hosted an ugly sweater contest and a talent show. We have some amazingly talented members at the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce. Thank you to everyone who participated.

You can watch our Holiday Luncheon video here – https://www.facebook.com/135960973162584/videos/248197906650525

We also want to thank those that donated canned goods and toys which we delivered to the Chino Neighborhood House. Specifically Ontario International Airport for their large donation.

Salute to Public Safety

Every year we honor Chino PD, Chino Hills PD and Chino Valley Fire with our Salute to Public Safety. We have had to reschedule it many times and will be airing videos for our Salute to Public Safety and the distribution of the awards during the month of January.

If you would like to submit a video thanking our first responders, please email me at ZWelborn@ChinoValleyChamber.com.

Business Awards & Recognition Dinner

Instead of a dinner, we will be highlighting our Award Winners throughout the beginning part of 2021 on social media and via email. We are looking forward to promoting our Chino Valley Business Award Winners.

Chino State of the City

The Chamber was proud to work with the City of Chino to help coordinate and produce their State of the City. The Chino State of the City is a video that showcases the City of Chino, their plans for the future and the impact the coronavirus has brought to our town.

We are still working on our re-imagined versions of our Chamber events in 2021 and hope you’ll continue to join us and support us.

Advocating for Businesses

Before the pandemic hit, our Chamber was getting much more active in helping advocate for businesses. We are members of the Western Association of Chamber Executives, US Chamber and the Inland Empire Legislative Alliance.

Since then we have worked with those entities to help support businesses at the Federal, State, County and local levels.

Legislative Advocacy & Action

In March and April we worked with our Federal representatives to help identify opportunities to support small businesses in the CARES Act.

Recently, we sent two letters to our local elected officials titled:

These letters were aimed to help get relief from our Federal and State Governments while also asking our state to be more fair and equitable when shutting down businesses.

As a result of our efforts and the efforts of the organizations we belong to, the US Government opened up a new round of funding to support small businesses, the State of California started their California Relief Grant Program and both our cities and county submitted letters supporting our Small Biz Coalition Letter.

We have heard from countless businesses that the Chamber has helped them stay afloat and in some cases thrive. We are thrilled to know we have helped so many businesses during this difficult time and are still trying to figure out ways to do more.

Candidate Forums:

We hosted the Chino, Chino Hills and Chino Valley School Board Forums for our community in 2020. These forums were designed to educate our community on the positions of those running for our local city councils and school board.

Congratulations to Chino Mayor Eunice Ulloa, Chino City Councilmembers Karen Comstock and Christopher Flores, Chino Hills City Councilmembers Art Bennett and Cynthia Moran and CVUSD School Board Members Don Bridge, Andrew Cruz, James Na.

You can watch our candidate forums here:

Telling the Stories of Chino Valley Businesses

One of the best things our businesses can do is to tell us their stories so that we can help find solutions for the challenges our businesses face.

Luv 2 Play

We interviewed Luv 2 Play, a new indoor play place which invested their life savings to start their business. They took over the location in January and still haven’t been able to open. Watch my video with them here – https://www.facebook.com/135960973162584/videos/298958808178953

Squeeze In

December 16, 2020
To Whom it May Concern,

I would like to tell my story and where my business stands at this time, after 9 months of limited operations. 

I am originally from Reno, NV and grew up with just my mom, as my parents were divorced and I was an only child. In 1994 at the age of 26 I found myself to be a single mom of a 3 year old and a new baby. I had a decent job working in a casino, and a college degree I wasn’t using, but now that I was alone I knew I would have to be the sole provider and a good example to my children. I began to look at other career options and decided I would try to get into nursing school. This ended up being a harder endeavor than I imagined as I had to get a 4.0 in any prerequisite classes, which meant retaking many of my prior classes to get all A’s. I was able to achieve this while working full time and taking care of my children and in June of 1995 I was accepted into nursing school at the University of Nevada-Reno. I worked very hard for this achievement and was extremely happy to begin nursing school, however this happiness was short lived. The week before school started my mom (at the age of 47) suddenly died from a cerebral aneurysm. The devastation I felt was almost unbearable, but I knew I had to continue on for the sake of my young children. I dragged myself to nursing school, even though it was very difficult, because I wasn’t letting this opportunity pass me by. I went to school full-time, worked full-time, and was a single mom with no family to help me; I did it all on my own and graduated in 1997. Once I accomplished this, I knew that I could do anything. 

A couple of years later I met my husband, John, who is from Southern California and I moved here in late 1999. At that time, I actually chose to change careers and I went to work for Bed Bath & Beyond. I quickly moved up and became the Operations Manager of a new store that I would open in Chino Hills. This brought our family to Chino Hills and we have lived here ever since. My husband and I had three more children and eventually I became a stay-at-home mom. My husband worked for a liquor distributor, where he started at the bottom, but over the years he had worked his way to the top, becoming Vice President and running the entire state of California. Due to our hard work and focus on our family, our life was great and we lived very comfortably, but hardship would find me again. 

Three years ago the company my husband worked for was sold and the new management decided to “go in a new direction” and John shockingly lost his job. Unfortunately, due to his large salary and his age it was very difficult for him to find another comparable job. Eventually, he did find a new job but he was paid one third of his previous salary. We decided that I would have to go back to work or we were going to lose everything. I found myself, once again, thinking about what I was going to do for a career and how could I take care of my family – but now I was 50 years old! I began considering a bunch of different options and I came across an article that Squeeze In had begun franchising. This was a restaurant I was familiar with since I had grown up with it nearby in Lake Tahoe and knew how amazing it was. I told my husband that we should open one in Chino Hills, that I would run it (even though I had marginal experience), and please have confidence in me. He believed me, so we took every cent of money we had – ALL of our savings, refinanced our home, and borrowed from our 401K to open the Squeeze In. We opened in November of 2018 and it was very successful from the day we opened the doors. Three of our children work here and we have 15 other employees. With one year under our belt, everything running smoothly, and a steady stream of customers we felt relief and were very optimistic about our future. We had been living on the edge of a cliff for over a year, with just barely enough money to get by, but felt we were finally all right and would make it out of financial ruin, then along came Covid. Initially, we thought we would be closed for two weeks but obviously that didn’t happen. As the days of being shutdown continued and our only option was to do take-out, our revenue was cut to one fifth of normal. With take-out only, my sales for the entire month are what I would do previously in one weekend. I have been working 12 hours a day seven days a week to keep the restaurant going. Our landlord will give us no relief on rent and without the ability to have outdoor dining we will not be able to pay the rent or for anything else. As you can imagine, with these continued restrictions, we are on the verge of losing everything once again and will potentially be homeless. I understand that “people are dying” but we have no options. There is no financial help coming our way. To delay sales tax does not help me to pay sales tax and to give me a loan does not help me if there’s no way to pay the loan. As I’ve said previously, I am a fighter and a hard worker and will do whatever I need to do to survive, but there’s no tools being given to us. If we are not allowed to operate and there’s no compensation, the government is stealing our business from us and it is wrong! We have put everything into this business and it’s just being taken from us and there’s nothing we can do. Please, someone help us to be allowed to operate, and protect those that are vulnerable, so that the rest of us can continue to exist! If you don’t, there will be high poverty, homelessness, boarded up buildings, and crime. This has been traumatizing to say the least, to my family, including my children, and all of my employees. Can the people we’ve elected, please represent us and make the restrictions stop? 

Let us operate!

Sincerely,

Kaylynne Ruiz

Businesses Helping Businesses

Not all has been bad though. Numerous businesses have stepped up to help support other businesses during 2020. Some examples of Chino Valley Businesses supporting each other include:

  • Transtech Engineer purchasing food from R&R Breakfast Spot to deliver to first responders
  • So Cal Gas Company buying close to $10,000 in meals to Chino Valley senior citizens from Chino Valley restaurants during #CVRestaurantMonth
  • Ontario International Airport donating a truck full of toys to the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce and Chino Neighborhood House for our Holiday Luncheon Toy Drive

Chino Valley #GivingTuesday

We created a post for #GivingTuesday highlighting all non-profits who are members of the Chamber. See our local non-profits and consider supporting them here – https://chinovalleychamberofcommerce.com/2020/12/31/chino-valley-givingtuesday/

How Can You Support Local Businesses?

Know of a business that is facing challenged due to COVID-19? Have them reach out to us so we can share their story too. 

If you, or a business you know of, has a story to tell, please tell them to get in touch with me ASAP. And we will make sure our legislators and community are aware to offer assistance and support.

Looking Ahead to 2021

Anyone who has been involved in the Chamber this year knows we’ve done more than the few things we were able to list above in 2020. This has been a challenging year for businesses and our Chamber.

As someone who is tasked with leading the Chino Valley Business community, I’ve felt an intense obligation to do everything I can to support businesses and help our businesses and community support one another.

While 2020 was difficult for so many, I’ve seen so much good and resiliency from our businesses that I feel optimistic about the future of business in the Chino Valley.

For those of you that helped us in 2020, whether it be with your sponsorship, membership, participation, engagement, support, know that your business community thanks you. Without you the work we did this year would not have been possible.

Hope to bring us all more closely together in 2021 to continue to support our businesses and make the Chino Valley a better place to live.

Thanks for everything!

Zeb

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