Local
February 22, 2018
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Cotati Chamber of Commerce The Little Engine that Could (and does!)

By: Susan Kashack
February 2, 2018

By Susan Kashack, former president 

In case you’ve seen the signs directing you to the Cotati Chamber of Commerce and wondered what that organization was about, here’s some background. The Cotati Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit that exists primarily to promote economic prosperity within the City of Cotati through economic development services, business services and community events. It currently has 120 members, mostly business, but some individuals.

To keep abreast of chamber and city activities, subscribe to the twice monthly electronic newsletter (email chamber@cotati.org). 

The chamber is run by a small group of dedicated Cotatians (or mostly Cotatians as a couple of board members live in nearby towns). Chamber Board members are:

President — Erin Armstrong (representing Armstrong Chiropractic)

Vice President — Kevin Gingher (representing Spancky’s Bar)

Secretary — Cherie Chipman (representing Exchange Bank) 

Treasurer — Shannon Sundberg (representing Aromatherapy & Reiki Energy) 

Director — Gisele Rue (representing Small Biz Help 4 You) 

Director — Yvonne Van Dyke (representing Church of the Oaks) 

Director — Victoria Zemrak (representing Transformations Hair Salon)

Board members can be reached through the chamber office at 216 E. School St. Cotati, (707) 795-5508 or chamber@cotati.org. Lisa Bagwell, Executive Office Administrator is in the office every day (except Thursdays) from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Dues

Dues for business membership run from $145 to $395 per year, dependent upon the number of employees (non-profits are less). Individual membership is $100 and $55 for those individuals over 65. A brief history of the chamber: The Cotati Chamber of Commerce is one of the oldest community organizations in the area and has been promoting and serving local businesses since Cotati was little more than a railroad stop.

Originally known as the “Cotati Promotion Club,” the group was formed in the early 1900s to provide support services for a township that grew out of the distribution and sale of land belonging to the Page family. The Cotati Promotion Club shed its name circa World War I, opting to be known as the “Cotati Chamber of Commerce.”

The transformation of Cotati into a vibrant community came rapidly with the Cotati Chamber as an active participant. The Lions Club took over the civic functions of the chamber during the Great Depression, but the chamber was re-activated as a business organization in 1940 and incorporated in 1958.

Today, the Cotati Chamber continues to promote the community and help attract new businesses — from helping to establish Sonoma State College (now a university) to starting the Cotati Farmers Market (runs June through August) and producing or co-producing popular events such as the Cotati Jazz Festival (June 16 this year), Oktoberfest (Oct. 13 this year), Cotati Kids Day Parade (July 14 this year), Holiday Tree Lighting (early December) and Cheer (Dec. 6 this year). Mark your calendar for these local family-oriented events. Additionally, ribbon cuttings for new businesses (or those with anniversaries) and mixers for existing chamber businesses bring attention to the thriving small business community in Cotati.

Mission of the chamber

The chamber strives to foster and promote actions that enhance the local economy; provides employment, cultural and recreational opportunities and protects and preserves the environment. Chamber members are committed to working together to ensure that Cotati is an economically viable and desirable community in which to live and work.

Structure

The Cotati Chamber of Commerce is made up of two governing bodies, the Board of Directors and the general membership. With the elected members chosen each year by the general membership, the Board of Directors sets policy and works with chamber staff on how to best serve Cotati. The general membership consists of local merchants and individuals who are chamber members.

Funding

The Cotati Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization and is funded by membership dues, fundraising projects and donations in addition to limited funding from the City of Cotati to support the chamber’s efforts as a visitor center.

In the neighborhood? Stop by for a visit and pick up information about where to shop at member businesses or to gather maps and other information about Sonoma County and beyond (Cotati Chamber of Commerce also serves as the Information Center for the city). 

Contact Information:

Chamber Chamber of Commerce(open every day except Thursdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.) 216 E. School Street (707) 795-5508 chamber@cotati.org