A group of business owners is in the early stages of forming an association to serve as an alternative to the Chamber of Commerce.
Marc Kessler, owner of Terra Bella Floral Design, came up with the idea after hearing about similar groups in Nevada and Montana.
To be called the Local Business and Consumer Alliance of Chico, the organization would involve businesses that are owned and controlled locally. It would exclude as business members chain stores and franchises, although representatives from those types of businesses could still join under the “consumer” banner.
Kessler said locally controlled businesses often just have different values and are more likely to make decisions that are in the best interest of the community.
The new group, while probably appealing to more-progressive members of society, would not engage in lobbying efforts or support political candidates.
“I didn’t join the Chamber of Commerce because of their political stance,” said Kessler, who, for example, doesn’t oppose raising the minimum wage. “A lot of local businesses don’t join the chamber because of that.”
The group will host its third meeting on April 14 at 7 p.m. in Conference Room 2 of the Chico City Council Chambers.
Avenue 9 Gallery, which is trying to build a bridge between art and business in Chico, has added another venue to its repertoire.
The Naked Lounge, which has coffee shops in downtown Chico and in Sacramento, has purchased and commissioned works by Elizabeth Newman Kuiper, a Chico artist. When Kuiper lost the use of her Chico studio, Naked Lounge owner Chris Pendarvis let her work in his coffee roasting plant near the airport, said Dolores Mitchell of Avenue 9 Gallery.
Kuiper’s work can also be seen at The Black Crow in downtown Chico.
Avenue 9 has similar arrangements with businesses such as French Gourmet Café and Bakery, Interior Designer Marci Goulart and Art, Etc.
“We are also planning an art rental business that would provide changing displays of art to private and commercial settings,” Mitchell said.
The business partners (along with the general public) have been invited to an April 4 showing and talk at the gallery, located at 180 East Ninth Ave., from 2 to 4 p.m.
Pay to play
The campaign to create a Property and Business Improvement District (PBID) for downtown Chico kicked off March 19 with the help of a Sacramento consultant that was hired for $25,000.
If voted in by at least half of affected property owners, the PBID would likely replace the Downtown Chico Business Association (DCBA), which is limited in the amount of money it can collect from members. Currently, the DCBA takes in about $29,000 a year and raises more money through special events.
A dollar amount has not been set for the PBID, which would have to be renewed every five years. The vote is planned for August.
Supporters hope the PBID would revitalize the downtown and provide money for maintenance, security, marketing and other needs.