Got some feedback on my column in our last issue where I featured the work of an economic development person from certain portions of Idaho and Washington state who comes down to the Valley periodically to poach our businesses. The people who own and work at these businesses are so sick of the high cost of doing business in Southern California that they’ll move to a freezing cold town in the middle of nowhere. I wrote that it was incredibly easy for this guy to get our businesses and that nobody’s stopping him. What do we do about this? He’s not the only economic development person from a different part of the country trying to get our businesses. Local economic development officials called me and said that it’s an almost impossible task to keep these poachers away from the thousands and thousands of businesses in the area. Many of the businesses don’t know that the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley and other organizations like the Valley Economic Development Center are here to provide assistance for companies needing help to maneuver the Southern California economic climate. If they knew about these things, maybe they wouldn’t leave. It’s true the Economic Alliance and VEDC don’t have the staff or the large amounts of money it would take for the huge business retention effort that is needed in the Valley. Rather, there needs to be a huge coordinated effort among these groups, city government and industry groups themselves to keep businesses from leaving. Lots of money to let firms know that there is help out there. At the centerpiece of this coordinated effort needs to be a huge marketing effort to tout the benefits of doing business in our area,and there are benefits such as a great labor force, great access to ports, wonderful educational institutions and in the case of manufacturing a great network of other manufacturing firms wrestling with some of the same problems. Knowledge is the key, it seems. Because I can’t believe people are really clamoring to move to cold Idaho. Contact me if you have some ideas. The Chamber Report In this issue is the second appearance of our new Chamber Report, a monthly section devoted to the events, people, information and assistance associated with our local chambers of commerce. This is an ambitious project for us. There are well over two dozen chambers in our newspaper’s circulation area. These chambers sponsor dozens and dozens of events each month all of which obviously we can’t write about. But this section is an attempt to take a more detailed look at our chambers beyond the usual “Calendar” items that we publish each issue. Chambers, both large and small, are central places where businesspeople go to get help on how to run their companies better, how to get more customers and where to meet other businesspeople who may have the same problems they have at their firms. Unless people contact their chambers directly often they don’t find out about these resources. Our special section is a way to more widely disseminate that information. But we need the help of the chambers. We need them to make sure we get information on what’s going on. Honestly, with so many chambers, we’ll surely miss things unless they’re brought to our attention. It’s just too big of a job for our small staff to monitor every chamber without some help. Please contact Staff Reporter Chris Coates if you have chamber news or ideas on how to better cover chambers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (818) 316-3124. Of course, you can always contact me, too. My information is at the bottom of this column. One thing I’d like to stress is that The Chamber Report will not be just listings of chamber events or dry briefs about people receiving awards. We want to spotlight in depth some chambers or chamber members that are doing some special things or offering some special programs or services. Chamber folks, you’ve got your chance for some free publicity here. Business Journal Editor Jason Schaff can be reached at (818) 316-3125 or at email@example.com.