Dedicated group working to revive Rancho Santa Margarita Chamber of Commerce – Orange County Register

Just months after the Rancho Santa Margarita Chamber of Commerce folded following the sudden departure of its president, a new group is working to start up a new chamber to provide a hyper-local resource for local businesses.

Started by a group of small-business owners, the RSM Chamber of Commerce hopes to be providing businesses assistance and networking opportunities by the end of the year, officials said.

“Every city should have a chamber or some kind of support,” said Charity Hill, who owns Lighter Than Air Balloons. “Not only does it help my business, but I’m also a really good networker…I help other people get connected so that their businesses are growing and doing well.”

The former Rancho Santa Margarita Chamber of Commerce disbanded in June after President Suzanne Singh took a position with the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce as its economic development director in late January. Without direction, board members eventually left and members of the chamber merged with the Ladera Rancho Chamber of Commerce.

But  while community leaders and small business owners were appreciative of the efforts of the Ladera Rancho Chamber, they decided that the city needed its own group to support local business.

“We have no personal negative feelings toward Ladera because they stepped up and said, ‘We’ll help out,’” said Curt Stanely, owner of Adventures in Advertising. “We want to create a vibrant, well-structured chamber in Rancho Santa Margarita.”

The new chamber, which has expanded to about 20 members after starting with six, has enlisted the help of Barbara Thomas, who has a background in association management and has spent years leading South Orange County chambers of commerce.

Thomas worked as the chief executive officer of the South Orange County Regional Chambers from 1991-2001, and in 2008, and joined the regional chamber of commerce, which is now the South Orange County Economic Coalition.

“I have a vested interest in making sure communities have chambers because it helps the local economy,” Thomas said.

With her help, the group has formed a transitional board and held a stakeholder meeting in August, identifying some key community and business leaders in Rancho Santa Margarita, Thomas said.

The transitional board will be in place through the end of 2017, Thomas said.

“We’re not quite there yet, we still have a communication plan we’re putting together,” Thomas said, adding that the plan could roll out in…

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