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Contractors group, Chamber won’t be merged

November 20, 2012

OVCVA President Dan Stone (center) is pictured with other group members at the 2011 Tri-County Fair Home Show. Stone said his group of contractors and vendors is the lead organizer for next year’s show, and is hoping to revitalize the event. Photo by Mike Gervais

The Owens Valley Contractor and Vendors Association last week rejected an idea to consolidate with the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau but agreed to take the lead in organizing the Tri-County Fair Home Show.
OVCVA President Dan Stone said the group had entertained the idea of merging with the Chamber of Commerce because both entities are focused on improving the local business community’s bottom line, and wanted to see if consolidation would improve services from both groups.
Stone also said that the OVCVA, through consolidation with the Chamber, would benefit from a nonprofit status.
“We chose not to do it,” Stone said. “We had a pretty good conversation with (Chamber Executive Director Tawni Thomson) and their board, and they’re more tourist- and entertainment-based and we’re more construction-type businesses.”
Established in January 2009, the OVCVA is a collection of licensed and insured contractors and vendors who, by virtue of their membership, have greater visibility to a regional customer base, access to training and contract opportunities, and are able to pool resources for community service endeavors.
“We had lots of conversations, and lots of thoughts, and in lots of ways we are very similar to the OVCVA,” Thomson said. “Ultimately both our main goals are to improve the local economy, but the way we go about it is different.”
Stone also said that, because the Chamber operates with money provided by the City of Bishop, and the OVCVA is driven strictly by membership dues, “we work different than them.”
Though the two groups ultimately decided to shelf the consolidation idea. Stone said the meeting was beneficial, as the OVCVA and Chamber plan to coordinate their activities more and focus on how they can complement each other’s services.
Thomson said the Chamber and OVCVA could work together to provide educational outreach for local business owners, such as workshops on best business practices and other information that the business community could use to improve its services.
Stone said the OVCVA is and has been a member of both the Lone Pine and Bishop chambers of commerce.
The OVCVA is also planning its first Home Show after agreeing to take over organization from the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds, which has been plagued by state budget cuts and will lose long-time CEO Jim Tatum when he leaves state employ Nov. 30 to take up a post with Inyo County. Tatum has recommended to the Board of Directors that his position not be refilled.
“We have accepted a challenge to take on the Home Show, but we have a lot to work out with the Fairgrounds,” Stone said. “There are some things we want to do, and a lot of things they want us to do, so we need to get together with them to hammer everything out.”
With the OVCVA at the helm, Stone says he hopes to see the Home Show grow to include more vendors that will generate more interest among local residents.
“We’re trying to reinvent the Home Show,” Stone said. “It’s not as attractive as it used to be. We want to attract new members and make it a family affair.”
Thomson said the Chamber is a willing resource for finding business owners who have not participated in the Home Show in the past and that could benefit from the event.

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