Joint chamber ushers in new era |

Joint chamber ushers in new era

Susan Wood
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Dr. Mireya Ortega of High Sierra Dental Care will serve on the Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce board of directors for the first time.

The joint chamber of commerce greets its first official day today with a new board, scheduled public meetings and the hope for an improving South Shore economy.

The 21-member board, elected last week, represents a near-even split of small and large California- and Nevada-based businesses by an 11-to-10 margin, respectively.

The composition marks a new beginning for a business group that has undergone a variety of challenges and criticisms – with some former members breaking off to form their own chamber because of a perceived Nevada dominance.

But Executive Director Betty Gorman said Tuesday both memberships, which will be absorbed into the chamber, voted for the new board listed here. Despite earlier reports to the contrary, she insisted most members stayed with the joint chamber, and more people are filing into the offices to inquire. The base rate of the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce is $200 annually.

“The board represents a comprehensive reflection of the South Shore community,” Gorman said. “The group’s business acumen and experience as well as community passion will enable us to represent and serve our members effectively.”

Of the 21 directors, 13 have served on the South Lake Tahoe Chamber board and six came from the Tahoe Douglas Chamber board. Two have stepped up to the plate for the first time.

Dr. Mireya Ortega said Tuesday she wanted to serve on the board because she believed her past experience on other state boards and her involvement with the 20-member Lake Tahoe Business Network would help bring some professional expertise to the commerce community.

“It seems like things have been up in the air. It might be nice to look at things from a different perspective, and I’m willing to work hard. I have no major agendas,” she said. “I think the business community needs assistance as far as getting the economy going.”

Indeed. South Shore store closures, relocations, the Carson Valley’s heavy big-box growth 40 minutes away, encroaching Indian casinos on the other side of the Sierra Nevada and a highly competitive tourism industry that has seen the likes of Arkansas vie for the vacationing dollar has placed this business community in a heightened state of mindfulness for promoting that distinguishable edge.

Hit the ground running

The joint chamber has launched its first month with three public sessions. Its first chamber meeting is slated for Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. at Inn By the Lake. The board of directors will elect its executive board and review plans for two upcoming gatherings – a town hall meeting scheduled Nov. 16 and a talk from an economist on Nov. 29 at the Horizon Casino and Resort.

The former will feature a forum at the Lake Tahoe Airport Council Chambers about the latest decision El Dorado County made on dropping its lawsuits against the proposed Shingle Springs casino. Tahoe’s District 5 Supervisor Norma Santiago has been invited. The latter will encompass a talk from John Mitchell, a U.S. Bank western regional economist. The cost of the program is $20 for chamber members and $30 for others.

Moving ahead

The merged chamber will be moving into its new headquarters next week at Primm’s Edgewood Village on the intersection of Kingsbury Grade and Highway 50. The chamber plans to share offices and visitor center services with Douglas County administration and the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

The headquarters can be reached at (775) 588-1728; FAX (775) 588-1941.

Goals for the organization include member services, business referrals, small business development, training and political advocacy.

On the outskirts

Meanwhile, a separate group identified as a “South Lake Tahoe” chamber and borne out of disillusionment of the merged chamber remains committed to its plans to proceed with its own California chamber, said David Borges, a chiropractor who serves on the steering committee.

Borges said 40 members have declared interest in the separate group.

Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce

21-member newly elected board:

Three-year terms:

— Virginia Boyar, Lake Tahoe Community College

— Blaise Carrig, Heavenly Mountain Resort

— Monica Sciuto, Barton Memorial Hospital

— Steve Lowe, Harrah’s/Harveys Lake Tahoe

— Michael McLaughlin, Feldman Shaw Attorneys at Law

— John Packer, Harrah’s/Harveys Lake Tahoe

— Paul Swanston, Sierra-at-Tahoe

Two-year terms:

— Dr. Mireya Ortega, High Sierra Dental Care

— Pat Ronan, Lakeshore Lodge and Spa

— Carl Ribaudo, Strategic Marketing Group

— Mike Bradford, Lakeside Inn & Casino

— Carol Chaplin, Aramark

— Sue Lowe, Chase International

— Pam Wheeler, Lakeside Inn & Casino

One-year term:

— Pat Atherton, Lake Tahoe Chocolate Factory

— Molly Blann, Aspen Realty

— Phil Herback, Park Cattle Co.

— Deb Howard, Deb Howard & Co. Realty

— Nancy Marzocco, Stanford Sierra Camp

— Linda Van Dam, Dart Discount Liquor, Stateline Smokeshop, Grocery Direct, Tahoe Take-Out

— Megan Waskiewicz, Alpen Sierra Coffee Co.

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