A crowd gathered Tuesday, cheering as the Murrieta Chamber of Commerce made an official announcement regarding its new location.
The hope is that the 3,000-square-foot office space in the Murrieta Spectrum Center at 25125 Madison Ave., Suite 108, will allow greater visibility for visitors to Murrieta and easier access for existing Chamber members.
The Chamber, which has leased space at Murrieta Mesa High School for more than two years, has identified early January as its move-in date.
“The high school has been great to us,” said Murrieta Chamber CEO/President Patrick Ellis. “I’ve talked with them and they have been great with us in the process of looking for a new location.”
“But there are certain issues with being in the high school that hurt our everyday operations. One being, acting as a visitor center for the city, it is a difficult location for people to find,” Ellis said.
“Probably the more obvious issue is as a chamber we don’t have area to host meetings, to host workshops, and all those different things we need to do for our members. We don’t have the ability to do that right now in our current location. The new location will offer that to us,” he said.
Currently under interior construction, approximately 1,100 square feet of the new building are dedicated to a conference room. The conference area can be used for the Chamber to once again provide those enhanced services to the business community of Murrieta, Ellis said.
The Chamber said it plans to expand on its “New Focus of the Chamber for 2013,” once settled in its new offices. This will include new programs and events to highlight the Chamber’s Core Values: Strengthen the Local Economy, Provide Networking Opportunities, Promote the Community, Represent Business to Government and Political Advocacy.
“The new location of the Murrieta Chamber will be a game changer for the organization and the community. We are very excited for 2013 in Murrieta,” said Kay Harrison, immediate past chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors and physician liaison/community relations for Southwest Healthcare System.
The Murrieta Chamber of Commerce’s roots of serving as the voice of business go back to 1915. Its membership is comprised of "business firms, large and small as well as individuals who are concerned with accomplishing the Chamber's overall mission of economic vitality and community betterment."
Outgoing Murrieta Mayor Doug McAllister was on hand Tuesday to congratulate the Chamber.
“The Chamber of Commerce is a very important part of the job creation and retention in Murrieta,” McAllister said. “The city of Murrieta is very pleased with the new direction of our Chamber and we look forward to the partnership that will enable us to better serve the businesses in our community.”
Another budding partnership will take effect immediately, as the Murrieta Firefighters Association has agreed to rent space at the Chamber’s new site.
“We have never had a home office,” said Dean Hale, president of Murrieta Firefighters’ Association. “We’ve operated out of guys’ houses, backpacks, cars, whatever we’ve needed to do.”
Hale said a conversation with Ellis led to what will be their new digs come January.
“With us being able to pay rent and join in and get office space it allowed them to get into where they wanted to be,” said Hale, noting the Murrieta Firefighters’ Association has been a Chamber member since 1992.
“We are here to support the Chamber opening up their doors,” Hale said.
The Murrieta Valley Unified School District has enjoyed having the Chamber on the Murrieta Mesa campus but said it understands the move. Murrieta Mesa offers career pathways, and the original intent was for the Chamber and the school to team up in vocational training.
“There was value in having the business community see it from the inside, seeing what schools do...” said Karen Parris, spokesperson for Murrieta Valley Unified.
“It was our understanding they were looking for a location that would be more visible to the business community, with easy access and more parking,” Parris said. “Parking has become an issue for the Chamber since the school grew—when they opened there were only two grades now there are four—as has the office and meeting space. We have enjoyed having them on campus and collaborating with them on their move.”
With its renewed focus of member services, Ellis said he hopes membership will return to previous levels. At its height in 2007-2008, Ellis said the chamber hit 1,000 members. That number dipped as low as 520 in recent years, but has now climbed up to around 550, he said.
Ellis, who replaced longtime CEO/president Rex Oliver, has been at the Chamber helm for about eight months.
“We are starting to see a turnaround,” Ellis said. “It is one of the things we have been working on over the last eight months...refocusing the Chamber, getting back to who we are as a membership-based organization. Our first core value is to strengthen our local economy.”