Experience Cloverdale

LOOK THIS WAY—Chamber member Dave Holt climbs down after he and executive director Neena Hanchett hung the Citrus Fair banner on the chamber’s billboard. 

Robust promotional plan for city announced

cloverdale citrus fair sign

LOOK THIS WAY—Chamber member Dave Holt and executive director Neena Hanchett hung the Citrus Fair banner on the chamber’s billboard, located north of the Dutcher Creek Road exit and visible from Highway 101. 

As a champion of Cloverdale and the local economy, the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce has announced plans to continue a marketing program that was launched last summer.

“The chamber is poised to do many things that have a positive impact on the whole community, and I’m excited about our plans and our capabilities on every level,” said Neena Hanchett, the chamber’s executive director.

The association’s board of directors and staff have been working since the middle of last year to plan and deliver a robust promotional plan for the city, board president Ron Pavelka added. “That includes more communications going out to the community, to would-be businesses and tourists, as well as to residents. The October fires pushed some of that back, but now the chamber is doing so many things it will make your head spin.”

Look for a new website to be launched this spring, around April 1. The website will be more streamlined, provide additional information and include an enhanced online events calendar that is easier to navigate. “One of our goals is to have all the events on that calendar, from little league baseball games to plays to crab feeds, so residents and visitors can see and choose what to do,” said Pavelka.

Now at the printer is a fold-out map of Cloverdale for locals and visitors that should be ready in the next couple of weeks. The chamber is also in the early stages of creating a welcome kit for people moving here, “so they know about the riches in the community,” Hanchett said.

In addition, the chamber board has identified the need for and is developing an ongoing campaign in print and online to drive more locals to buy more products in town. Another goal is to draw additional tourists to Cloverdale’s restaurants, shops and attractions, such as Lake Sonoma. In particular, programs will be aimed at existing tourists who are staying in nearby communities. Further, a TripAdvisor program is in the works.

“In the meantime, we continue to work on our infrastructure at the chamber,” Pavelka said.

The chamber has invited four people to serve on its advisory board. They will meet once a quarter to review programs, finances and new ideas. Their first meeting will be in March.

Two Cloverdale High school juniors have been selected as student liaisons. Eden Winniford and Julie Edwards will attend their first meeting of their one-year terms in February. “This is about providing a long term reason for young people to stay in the community and raise their families,” Pavelka said. “What do they see in their community 10 to 20 years from now? Is it higher paying jobs, tourism?”

The chamber has been communicating with Cloverdale High School to reopen one of the school’s community gardens. “We will be working with their farm to table, culinary and construction classrooms to support their needs and the people in the community who are looking for a place to garden,” Pavelka said.

Early negotiations are also underway to reopen a community garden downtown.

At a recent city council meeting, Hanchett presented the chamber’s marketing plans for 2018, reviewed its accomplishments for 2017 and noted that the association has undergone, “a complete personnel turnover,” beginning when she became executive director in November 2017. Savanah Hemphill, born and raised in Cloverdale, was hired as administrative assistant in mid-December.

“It’s been a wild ride, Mr. Toad. It’s crazy good,” said Hanchett, adding that in the midst of all their plans, the chamber is remodeling its building so that it’s a more welcoming place for the community to visit. Other projects include seasonal community events and co-hosted mixers.

“We are happy, we are proud, we’re excited that Neena is the executive director. Her knowledge and enthusiasm of the community is exciting. She has signed up a dozen new members in the last month and has her sights on a lot more,” Pavelka said.

“At the end of the day, the chamber is for the businesses in the community and we want people to be proud of where they live, proud of the businesses they have here and we want people to be part of that development in a friendly way,” he added.

“We’ll know we have arrived when we have difficulty parking,” Hanchett said.

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