Russian River Chamber of Commerce office

The Russian River Chamber of Commerce will elect five board directors at its upcoming general membership meeting on Oct. 2.

The Russian River Chamber of Commerce is holding an election next month to fill upcoming vacancies on the chamber’s board of directors.

“This year we have five vacant seats: three two-year positions and two three-year positions,” said the chamber’s notice of the election that will be held on Oct. 2 at the chamber’s general membership meeting.

The application deadline for election was Wednesday, Sept. 4.

Current board business includes the hiring of a new executive director to replace Elise VanDyne, who resigned to become Fifth District County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins’ new district field representative.

The river chamber now has 236 members, said VanDyne, who was hired as the chamber’s executive director last year and is now helping to find the next executive director.

Chamber accomplishments during VanDyne’s tenure include raising and distributing $129,000 for flood relief since the February ’19 flood disaster, increasing membership by 18% and advocating for better downtown Guerneville security, resulting in a new security patrol.

The River Chamber was also recently awarded a USDA grant to help area small-business owners become more tech savvy in their marketing strategies.

“The USDA was really interested in helping us uplift the technical capabilities specifically of our small businesses,” said VanDyne.

The rural business development grant funds total more than $70,000 in USDA money and matching grants from Kaiser Permanente and Sonoma County Community Investment support. The funds will provide river chamber members with shared marketing services.

“We’re buying five really great high-powered laptops” installed with business tech software such as Creative Suite, QuickBooks and Office and other tech capabilities necessary “to be successful as a small business,” said VanDyne.

“We’re going to have one-on-one mentorships, we’re going to have training so people can come in and become really great at QuickBooks and really great and effective at Creative Suite and be able to up their marketing game.”

The computers and programs will be available to members through the chamber’s Guerneville office on First Street, said VanDyne.

“These are all things that our small businesses have been asking for.”

The 13-member board meets monthly on the third Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the River Chamber office.

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