- A felt tote bag, a hat, an embossed journal and a stainless steel water bottle, all bearing the Michael Schwab-designed Mill Valley logo.
- Gift cards from Grilly’s, Piazza D’Angelo and La Ginestra
- Copies of MV Community Map, EMV Guide, MV Recreation Guide, Marin Magazine, Marin Visitor Bureau Guide, One Tam Map, My Mapbook, Where SF & MV Herald
- Vital Emergency Preparedness Info
- “Tam Near Perfect” license plate holder
- A One-Year Mill Valley Chamber Community Membership
- Chamber Saver Card w/ access to 60+ discounts around town
The perfect way to welcome a client, friend or family to the 94941, the Enjoy Mill Valley Welcome Kit includes:
That was one merry Mixer! The gorgeously decorated The Outdoor Art Club was the place to be for the Mill Valley Chamber's annual Holiday Party on Dec. 12. With delicious food from Pizza Antica, Prabh Indian Kitchen and the Plant Organic Cafe, amazing wine from Anne Minkin's Boisset Collection, champagne, beer and soft drinks, live music from the Mill Valley Middle School Bluegrass Club and an array of incredible raffle prizes, this was a can't miss party.
Thanks to the OAC and all of our food and drink providers, our amazing staff, volunteers and ambassadors for helping to organize the event, to the fantastic Susan Royce (get well Gary Ferber!) for stepping in to take photos and, most of all, to all of you who came out to celebrate a fantastic 2017 with us!
CHECK OUT ALL THE GREAT PHOTOS HERE.
As we near the end of a year-plus that has been largely dominated by the nearly complete Miller Avenue Streetscape Project, the Mill Valley Chamber invited Mayor Jessica Sloan and City Manager Jim McCann to deliver the annual State of the City to Chamber members and friends on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at Piazza D’Angelo restaurant.
Over the course of a wide-ranging, substantive and interactive hour, Sloan dove into an array of subjects, starting with the 18-month, $18 million elephant in the room: the Miller Avenue project, which is now in its 16th month, with most of the most critical – and most disruptive for Miller businesses – components finished.
“Overall it’s really been a great partnership with the businesses,” Sloan said.
Sloan touted Meet Me on Miller, the post-construction campaign from the Chamber and the City to re-engage the community with Miller Avenue shops, restaurants, businesses and organizations.
And in the immediate future, there’s MillerFest, a four-hour celebration of the new Miller Avenue, on Saturday, Nov. 4 (12-4pm) in the public parking lot near Marin Theatre Company and Extreme Pizza. The action-packed event features food from Antone's East Coast Subs, Extreme Pizza, Swirl and Whole Foods Mill Valley, along with live music from Loose With the Truth, a beer garden from the Chamber and Fort Point Beer Co., a bounce house, a bike decorating content and parade, a bike maintenance station from Tam Bikes, pedicabs from Vanguard Properties and 4Leaf, children's play from the Marin Theatre Company, nature walks, history walks and much more.
Sloan says she hopes the new Miller incites even more families to get out of their cars.
“I grew up in this town biking all over the place,” she said. “My mom loved it because she didn’t have to drive me everywhere. You knew where to go because your friends’ bikes were parked outside that store.”
“Now I have seen an explosion of kids and parents biking and walking and using other modes to get to school along Miller,” she added, mentioning the dedicated bike lanes throughout the road and flashing beacons at many crosswalks. “And we hope that grows even more when people see how much more multi-modal the street is now.”
Sloan noted that some of the biggest improvements to Miller happened under the road surface.
“This is a huge project,” Sloan said. “There hasn’t been one of this size in the county in a very long time. The biggest piece, perhaps, was underground in terms of sewer pipes, storm drains, utility upgrades – we had some serious problems underground and it warranted a job of this size being done.”
That impact has already made gains, she said, as evidenced by the fact that last winter’s record rains caused considerably less flooding around Miller and its side streets than lower levels of rain in years past.
“To all of the businesses, I say thank you so much for your patience on Miller,” Sloan added.
With the Miller project almost in the rear-view mirror, Sloan spent the bulk of the discussion on some of the macro-level issues that face Mill Valley face. The most obvious of those continues to be traffic. Sloan rattled off a series of changes that have been made, from traffic light timing adjustments to the pilot yellow school bus program, which has allowed dozens of families to avoid cross-town car trips to school, that have been made in the past year and that have reduced overall travel time in and around Mill Valley by 13 percent.
The imbalance between the percentage of people who work in Mill Valley but cannot afford to live here “is the most important issue we have here in town,” Sloan said, recalling that when she was a kid, her neighbors were the local mechanic at Masters auto repair and that as many as 10 Mill Valley Police officers lived in Mill Valley in the 1990s, a number that has shrunk to just one officer in all of Marin County.
“We have moved away from being a community where the people who worked in and served this community lived here,” Sloan said. “And it’s changed the town on a cultural level as well.”
McCann said the City itself has faced tremendous difficult fill its own staff vacancies because of the dearth of affordable housing.
To address that issue, the City Council approved a change to the City’s affordable housing requirements, requiring any development of four or more units to make 25 percent of those units affordable.
“I can’t tell you guys what a big win that is, especially looking at other jurisdictions,” Sloan said.
The Council also this year approved an affordable housing impact fee on all new housing projects and remodels costing $100,000 or more. The fee 1 percent of the project’s construction cost. The fee take effect in November 2018.
City officials estimate that the fee could generate approximately $350,000 a year, and that the City is hosting a workforce housing summit in late November to discuss how the use of that revenue should be prioritized, with the options ranging from building new housing or buying and remodeling existing apartment complexes that “could use some TLC” to offering payment assistance for local workers, Sloan said.
Sloan and McCann also touched on a number of other subjects, from the ongoing overhaul of the network of Steps, Lanes and Paths and recent parking meter upgrades to the need for businesses to stay on top of their own emergency preparedness, a subject that has been on everyone’s minds of late, for obvious reasons,” Sloan said.
Lisa Safran was in Thailand over the holidays in 2004, and in the days before the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami arrived there, she found herself annoyed by groups of people that were older and younger than her, for different reasons.
When the tsunami hit, she observed those people react in ways that had her recoiling from those initial judgments.
“It made me realize that I have that capacity to think us and them and you versus me,” she says, noting that the frenetic younger guys took charge of a rescue, while some older Thai women has collected fish from the sea so people had food to eat that night. “In that moment, what I saw was a collective group of people working to get through something very traumatic.”
One of the driving forces of that shift, according to Safran, was the need to improvise. Improvisation has been Safran’s calling ever since. Her Improv Consultants firm uses play to ignite teams, strengthen leaders, and spark lasting collaboration, communication & creativity. On Sept. 6, Safran led an inspired, engaging interactive workshop on using the tenets of improvisation to bridge the generational divide. The event, part of "The Essentials" series hosted by the Mill Valley, San Rafael, Corte Madera and Tiburon Chambers of Commerce, was held at the Town Center Corte Madera.
In doing so, she relied on the tenets of improvisation. With younger people constantly entering the workforce and older people working well into their 60s and 70s, Safran says, finding ways to help those disparate demographics work well with one another is a critical component to a successful workplace.
But rather than a lecture and feverish note-taking from attendees, Safran led the group in a series of improv exercises that pushed all the right buttons. They included having partners rapidly count off back and forth, swapping in claps and snaps as they did so; brainstorming commonalities with partners; and using creative word association to pass childhood memories around a group.
Those exercises sought to drive home the power of some of the tenets of improvisation, including:
Attendees walked away with ideas and strategies to bridge the generational divide in creative, effective ways that they could put into practice with ease.
The 411: MORE INFO on Lisa Safran and Improv Consultants. Do you have a topic you’d like the Chambers to cover in an upcoming The Essentials event? Let us know.
Bloom Marin, a volunteer-based nonprofit that provides complimentary wardrobes and life skills training to men, women, and children transitioning to a life of self-reliance, is seeking an assistant retail store manager for its San Rafael shop.
Bloom serves clients referred from more than 45 nonprofit and government agencies including job training programs, educational institutions, family service agencies, treatment centers, domestic violence and homeless shelters. Founded in 1999, staff and volunteers provide an experience of acknowledgement and dignity when selecting a wardrobe. Bloom employs seven part-time staff and has over 100 volunteers.
Bloom is looking for an upbeat personality who can help the organization as they grow. Our staff works hard to serve the people of Marin County. An understanding of our organization and compassion for the population we serve is a must. A college education and writing skills are preferred. Good communication skills are necessary for this position. Bloom is located at 1557 4th street in San Rafael.
1. Working knowledge of Microsoft Office and excel.
2. Spanish language skills a plus.
3. Positive can do attitude and a team player.
4. Social media skills a plus.
5. Customer service skills and ability to represent Bloom positively.
6. Previous retail experience a plus.
7. Ability to work some Saturdays, hours are approximately 20-30 per week depending on retail schedules.
Contact Bloom for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org
We worked with the creative folks at Blu Sky Films on a video that captures our value proposition to our members, with the help of the amazing Helen Russell at Equator Coffees and Grace Kraaijvanger of The Hivery. We're forever grateful to both of them and hope you enjoy the fantastic work by Blue Sky. And feel free to share with friends, colleagues and neighbors who might benefit by joining our ever-growing community organization! MORE INFO ON MEMBERSHIP.
Thoughts? Questions? Email us anytime!
Though most of their events are of the funereal variety, Heather Ferguson and her team at Fernwood Cemetery in Tam Valley showed last week that they are far from a traditional cemetery, capable of putting on one heck of a networking mixer.
Fernwood hosted our June 21st Mixer, and dozens gathered in the gorgeous space designed by the firm that created the new One World Trade Center and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai amidst a gorgeous, sprawling, 32-acre property. Attendees enjoyed beautiful music from Teja Gerken, delicious food from Robin Scott Catering and the chance to rub elbows with their fellow Members and friends. Thanks to all who made it out and to all of those who helped make it happen!!
MORE ON FERNWOOD.
“80 percent of success is just showing up.” ––Woody Allen
More than two dozen Marin business owners and managers followed that advice this week, showing up to “Network Like a Pro,” a June 7th seminar hosted the Mill Valley, San Rafael, Corte Madera and Tiburon Chambers of Commerce at the Town Center Corte Madera.
The workshop was led by Tim Hoyle, a national speaker whose company, Motivation According to Hoyle, has been teaching companies how to leverage the intrinsic motivations of employees to improve their performance and accelerate business objectives.
“Most of us know that networking is about showing, bringing business cards, shaking hands and looking people in the eye – so what’s the challenge?” Hoyle said at the outset of his interactive, oft-hilarious presentation. “For those of us who find networking challenging, it’s all about changing behavior. It’s about desensitizing yourself to feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of networking.”
The solution: Repetition. Hoyle used his own fear of snakes, and how to overcome it. He walked attendees through a series of interactions with snake-related items, from a snake video to a rubber snake to seeing an actual snake in person.
“It’s about reconditioning your brain through a series of repetitive interactions,” Hoyle said. “What makes you a great networker? The number of times you show up to a networking event and deal with that awkward feeling. You all have moments in your life when you can be comfortable with who you are – relaxed, gracious. It’s about how many times you can show up to a networking event and do your best.”
Once you’ve put yourself in that environment, it’s about making connections and getting leads, Hoyle said. To do so, Hoyle pointed to a “one legged man wearing lipstick,” a humorous, memorable example of selecting something very brief and specific about the type of leads you are seeking.
“You want to give people just one thing to look for, so that when they see that one lead they know to associate it with you,” he said.
From there, the group dove headlong into one-on-one networking interactions, practicing their “elevator pitch” and their personalized version of “one legged man wearing lipstick.”
“All of this takes practice – when you get it right, it’s going to feel great,” Hoyle added.
MORE INFO ON TIM HOYLE.
Let’s say you need to find a chiropractor, or a divorce attorney, or maybe a great salad place to meet a friend for lunch.
In each of those cases, what’s the first thing you’d do? Ask a friend? Sure, if you have a friend with direct knowledge of one of those queries.
But more likely, you’ll Google it, and see where your search takes you.
That search, and Google’s dominant role in our day-to-day research and decision-making – as well as the various digital and social media tentacles that extend from it – was at the heart of “Marketing Your Business for Results,” an April 5th seminar hosted the Mill Valley, San Rafael, Corte Madera and Tiburon Chambers of Commerce at the Town Center Corte Madera.
The event drew on the expertise of Carolyn Kohler and Lisa Taylor Powers, a pair of local marketing experts who also run their own small businesses, so they practice the tips they preach every day.
Kohler’s Website Wordsmith business specializes in search engine optimization, using web content to help transform her clients’ businesses into magnets for new business, while Taylor Powers’ The Hive Marketing takes a holistic view of a business to provide tailored solutions to help them grow.
The duo often work together for clients, and thus their presentation to more than two dozen attendees was seamless and allowed for plenty of audience questions.
“Your online presence is the first point of contact that someone will have with you and your business,” Taylor Powers said at the outset. “It’s working for you while you’re not awake and while you’re away from your desk.”
The best way to make sure you’re maximizing that presence is to come up with a marketing plan: What are your goals? What sort of website and social media traffic do you get now? What message do you want those visitors to receive?
Because small business owners already have a ton on their plates, and because there are are seemingly infinite ways to reach their customers, from websites and social media to email newsletters and videos, they need to decide how they want to reach their audience. “You can’t do it all, so knowing what are the appropriate channels for your customers is critical,” Kohler said.
Given Google’s dominance in getting people to your website, a business’ Google presence serves as a foundational component to that process, Kohler said. She provided 10 tips to making sure you show up high in search results. They included:
There you go: honest, practical, free marketing advice from a pair of experts, including a free half-hour consultation with Kohler or Taylor Powers – a sure-fire way to get their Google act together in short order – all courtesy the the Mill Valley, San Rafael, Corte Madera and Tiburon Chambers of Commerce.
MORE INFO ON CAROLYN KOHLER’S WEBSITE WORDSMITH.
MORE INFO ON LISA TAYLOR POWERS’ THE HIVE MARKETING.
Some of the biggest employers in Marin were onhand to hear Debi Geller and Dolores Cordell explain the current hiring market and give tips on making it work for your business and how to manage the latest employment law changes.
A booming economy, low unemployment rate, extraordinarily high cost of housing and few job seekers among teens all add up to a historically difficult hiring market for employers in Marin County – a topic that has been on the minds of owners and hiring managers at businesses throughout Mill Valley and beyond.
That was reason number one the Mill Valley, San Rafael, Corte Madera and Tiburon Chambers of Commerce hosted “Employment 2017: Recruitment, Retention and Employment Law Changes,” a Feb. 1 seminar at the Town Center Corte Madera that drew on the expertise of employment law attorney Dolores Cordell and Debi Geller, an account executive with Nelson Staffing.
It was clear from the start that hiring – and the abundance of employment-related regulations that accompany the processes of hiring, managing and firing employees – were the most pressing concerns facing many of Marin’s largest employers, as the audience included leaders from Whole Foods Market, Marin Suites Hotel, The Redwoods, Nugget Markets and many more.
Hiring Manager Woes
“I’ve been doing this for a long time and I have never seen the hiring market so tricky – Marin employers have had a harder time hiring in the past six months than at any other time I can remember,” Geller said at the outset, noting that Marin’s unemployment rate currently sits at 2.9 percent, a far cry from the 8 percent of mid-2009. “There is hardly anyone who wants to be working who is not working.”
Marin’s current jobless rate is the same as it was 10 years ago, but there are distinctions in 2017 that make hiring much harder than it was in 2007, Geller said. Those factors include a $3,300 median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Marin – a cost difficult to bear for job seekers in the lower-wage light industrial, food service and retail sectors in particular.
Given the high cost of housing, it’s no surprise that upwards of 60 percent of employees in Marin commute to work here, just one of the many contributors to Marin’s traffic problems.
“The lower the pay, the harder it is to fill the job,” Geller said. “It’s the million dollar question. And a big driver of all this is that kids used to work in those jobs, and in Marin the teenagers don’t work, so that whole workforce doesn’t exist here, which makes it even harder.”
Several attendees noted that they are pulling out all the stops to incentivize potential new hires, including stipends for public transit costs, paying for higher education and additional training and offering employee referral programs through which current employees can earn a bonus for referring a new employee.
Geller and Cordell said that while getting job seekers in the door is hard, managing the hiring process can be even harder. They urged hiring managers to be careful with the questions you ask job seekers during the hiring process. For example, if an applicant has a service dog, you can’t legally ask them why they have it, but you can ask them if they can perform all of the functions of the job. And ditto with a pregnant applicant or asking an applicant where they’re from.
“There are acceptable and unacceptable questions, and you must be careful to not cross the line, Cordell said. “It’s common sense,” Geller added.
Application forms should also be vetted, they said, as laws are changing regularly. For instance, in San Francisco, employers can no longer ask a job seeker if they have a criminal history. They can, however, conduct background checks.
“The main thing that you want to focus on is, do they have the qualifications to do the job,” Cordell said.
Once They’re Hired
Cordell and Geller spent the bulk of their presentation on what to do once they’ve made a new hire: managing employees, retaining them and properly handling the process of firing them, if needed. They also focused on abiding by the array of employment regulations, particularly those that are changing, like social media and marijuana policies. Here are a few of the points they touched on:
And the bottom line is an employee’s work performance. "If they manage to show up every day and do a good job, it’s none of your business,” Cordell added.
MORE INFO on Debi Geller of Nelson Staffing.
MORE INFO on employment law attorney Dolores Cordell.