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Bringing Business and Community Together in Concord, CA

By S. Mathur

The city of Concord is the eighth largest East Bay community, located less than 30 miles from San Francisco. With good transportation and lower rents, it has been largely a commuting town. For the past ten years or so, however, there have been efforts to create more local jobs so it can become a place to work as well as live. The Concord Chamber of Commerce plays an important role in encouraging local businesses to find the resources they need to succeed.

Marilyn Fowler of the Concord Chamber of Commerce says that "It is the Chamber's hope that residents of Concord enjoy their quality of life, in a community where people can afford to live in the Bay Area and work locally. The city is filled with a wide array of ethnic cuisine and an emerging craft beer scene. The downtown hosts successful farmers' markets year round and live concerts in Todos Santos Plaza throughout the summer. Concord is also served by a noted healthcare facility John Muir Medical Center, a local airport, transportation via BART and growing tech and advanced manufacturing industries."

The Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce is a voluntary business association that helps local businesses to network, grow and thrive. With regular events like First Friday Coffee, Business After Hours Mixers and Women's Networking Luncheons, it helps local businesses make the connections they need. Business trade shows and educational workshops offer professional and business development opportunities. Fowler says that the Chamber works to create a friendly climate for local businesses and employers: "We work closely with the City of Concord to create a flourishing business environment and to encourage new opportunities for businesses in the local area."

Regular annual events hosted by the Chamber include gatherings for seniors, local businesses and school teachers. The East Bay Senior Resource Expo is held every spring and has information and resources for seniors, baby boomers and care givers. The annual Mayor's State of the City Luncheon recognizes and honors successful local businesses. There's an event for teachers as well, says Fowler.

"Another event that we are proud of is BEST Day (Business and Education Sharing Together). This one day event brings high school career teachers together to visit local businesses and learn about real world experiences that they can take back to their classroom."

The Todos Santos Square downtown with its green spaces for concerts, festivals and farmers markets, and a jazz pavilion, anchors the community. The Concord Chamber tries to build the sense of community in many ways. Members volunteer at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, at tree plantings in local parks and in the Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. The Concord Chamber also mentors students from Mt. Diablo High School. In partnership with the Digital Safari Academy at the school, it sponsors the yearly Innovation Fair for high school seniors. The semester-long project gives students a chance to develop a product, create a business plan, and present both to the community at an event organized like a trade show.

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