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Chamber organizes welcoming committee

February 1, 2013

The Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce is working on a new program that will roll out the welcome wagon for new residents moving to the area. Photo courtesy metrocreativegraphics.com

Local merchants are extending a welcome-to-the-neighborhood handshake to new Bishop residents in the form of an informational gift package.
Bishop Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau Executive Director Tawni Thomson introduced a New Resident Welcome Program at the Jan. 28 City Council meeting. Thomson said the Chamber “is pleased to announce a program designed to welcome new residents to our community and to connect them with the products and services offered by our member businesses.” The packages are available to anyone who has recently moved to the area, as well as to future newcomers, she added.
“We have all of the relocation resources information,” many businesses have already responded with coupons and gifts, and if a new resident “were to call tomorrow, we’re ready” with their welcome package.
New residents may pick up their packages at the Bishop Visitors Center, located at 690 N. Main St., Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Or volunteers will deliver them. Call Cheryl Underhill at (760) 920-0106 to request a package.
Each welcome package provides maps and relocation information about essential local services related to utilities, schools, medical care, churches and so on.
Many of the Chamber’s 421 members are already on the welcome wagon and have provided utilitarian welcome package gifts. The Chamber suggests that its members donate product samples, pens, note pads, key chains and other utilitarian promotional items.
Merchants who have already donated products and services include: Northern Inyo Hospital, Preferred Septic and Disposal, NewCali Landscape, Sound Shoppe/Radio Shack, Pleasant Valley Real Estate, Advantage DJ, Vitality Wellness Center, Union Bank and Dial-a-Ride, Thomson said.
Businesses may drop their gift contributions off at the Chamber.
Welcome packages also include goods and services coupons, which are also being donated by local business owners. The chamber is making it easy to do so by doing all the legwork, Thomson said. Merchants need only email her the information, at ExecDir@bishopvisitor.com, and the coupons will be created in-house. “We suggest a one-time-use coupon for something really great like one free lunch, 25 percent off your first purchase, or other fairly substantial deals.” The Chamber will also “keep close track of who receives the welcome packages,” so businesses “won’t have to worry about duplication or misuse.”
“We’re calling on Chamber member businesses to help us put together a nice, valuable welcome package.” However, while their monetary value will fluctuate depending on gift and coupon content, Thomson said the real value of welcome packages lies in “extending a hand of friendship,” she said, to help newcomers connected with their new community.
Because the chamber has no budget for this campaign, Thomas explained, it is “reaching out through our local media partners and its e-newsletter … in an effort to inspire more businesses to get involved.” Thomson explained that donated coupons and gifts also represent an “excellent marketing opportunity,” whereby businesses can “reach out directly to potential new customers.”
Thomson said identifying new residents is one challenges the chamber faces. Starting this week, “we will reach out to real estate offices, business community and major employers to ask them to spread the word to recently relocated people … We’ll also ask help of local media to help spread the word.”
“Employers … please be sure to let your new employees and those relocating to Bishop know about this program,” Thomson said. “Please also remember to contact our office if you should need maps, brochures, or other information that may be included in your out of the area recruitment materials.”
Along those line, Thomson said that in a future endeavor, the Chamber will be creating a package to welcome new businesses to the area as well.
But for now, Thomson said the Chamber and its members are “being friendly. We’re being neighborly, reaching out to our new residents, welcoming them.”

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