The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce announced it will launch a “Retail Walks” initiative next month as part of its new Small Business Council. These walks will tour chamber member companies with elected officials and city and county staff on foot through retail-heavy neighborhoods so they may connect with small business owners to discuss issues such as training, insurance and wages. The Small Business Council was formed in July to provide programs and resources that will support the area’s working community. “The chamber recognizes that small businesses are core to any strong business community and are the backbone of our membership,” said John Musella, whose Evolve Business Strategies manages the chamber. “The timing was right to look at what we can do to better serve small businesses and better involve them in the chamber.” The Evolve team includes Musella, Managing Partner Ivan Volschenk and Vice President Peter Warda. The first retail walk is slated to happen in October along Main Street in Old Town Newhall. Musella said the walks will be a bimonthly occurrence, at least for now. The chamber is looking at Canyon Country, Stevenson Ranch, Valencia, Saugus and Castaic for future walks. In addition to policy-related conversations, the facetime with businessowners provides an opportunity for the chamber to promote its initiatives – and those offered by the city – that businesses may not know about. These include business courses offered by College of the Canyons and resources from the Small Business Administration, as well as the chamber’s employment law forum, insurance round tables, training opportunities and a forum on cybersecurity set to debut this fall. “The idea with that is to provide practical knowledge and information to local business owners so they can put (cybersecurity) into practice or at least become aware of and start addressing it proactively before something happens,” Musella said. Businessowners, too, are encouraged to join the walks and engage in dialogue along the way. “One businessowner may have an experience that relates to another. They can talk about shared experiences and solutions and practical ways to solve problems together,” Musella said.