Ever since assuming the role of director at the Chino Valley Area Chamber of Commerce, Lorette Brashear has taken insight from her favorite quote, going where there is no path and leaving a trail.
She says it is her dream job.
Brashear has been the chamber’s director since May 14, 2018, succeeding John Coomer who took over upon the departure of Arlen Alen who resigned in January 2018.
Prior to taking the Chino Valley job, Brashear was the marketing and events coordinator for Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary and had worked at chambers in New Mexico and Kingman.
“That’s kind of when I found my love for businesses and helping them grow. I think what makes me a good chamber director is I did start my own businesses,” Brashear said. ”I went through it, I know what they’re going through. I started my LLC … I really learned a lot about how to run a business, start a business, and how to grow a business, and so I think that’s what gives me a little bit of insight.”
Since the beginning of her tenure, the chamber has attracted quite few new members, including young entrepreneurs in their early 20s who started online businesses, she said. It makes for a great dynamic with them along with the members who have been a part of the Chino Valley Area Chamber of Commerce for years and years, and it is great to see the two groups mesh together, Brashear said.
The chamber also has seen growth elsewhere, she said. Attendance at luncheons has risen thanks to a change in venue, the presentations are phenomenal, mixers have filled up and there are now more partnerships, Brashear said.
“Before we were just partnered with Arizona’s Hometown Radio,” she said. “Now we’re partnered with 99.1 and we also partner with Yavapai Broadcasting, which allows me to bring more to our members. It gives them more value for their membership.”
Additionally, the chamber has great relationships with SCORE, which seeks to foster small-business communities through mentoring and education; the Better Business Bureau; the Small Business Development Center and all media, Brashear said.
Brashear has implemented new methods of connecting too, such as the installation of a Ring doorbell at the chamber office. It was the solution to complaints of someone stopping by the office but finding no one there, she said.
“Now, people can stop by the chamber, ring the doorbell and it will actually come to my phone. I can answer it and if I’m not there, let you know when I’ll be there or schedule an appointment with you right then and there on the spot,” Brashear said. “It’s been working really great, especially for visitors that come over the weekends.”
The chamber also now sends out information packets to new businesses around town and information on when classes are scheduled for SCORE and the Better Business Bureau plus what the organizations have going on, Brashear said.
As for programs and events, last year the Community Volunteer Program began and, this year saw the implementation of a new student ambassador program within it, allowing students to get training and shadow chamber members in their jobs, Brashear said. Those students get help in deciding and narrowing down career possibilities, and when they are done they will get tuition and scholarship money, she said.
The volunteer program itself has more than 40 active volunteers about 40 organizations in the quad city-area partnered, Brashear said, noting the number of organizations keeps growing.
Further, after not having them in town for years, Brashear resurrected the Lunch & Learn program in Chino. They are free to everyone and held at Days Inn, 688 Fletcher Court, on the third Thursday of every month, offering programs like grant writing or volunteer training and recruitment, she said.
Brashear isn’t out of ideas either and said she wants to continue to grow the Chino Valley Area Chamber of Commerce.
“There’s a lot more things that we’re going to add next year,” she said. “We really have a wrap now on the Lunch & Learns and an understanding of our mixers and an understanding of our networking luncheons, but I want to grow it by continuing education.”
In her desire for the chamber to be successful and for its members to be excited and happy, Brashear said she wants to take things to the next level. Morning mixers are set to begin this month, a revamp of the chamber website is planned, and a chamber podcast is in the works. She also has a goal of bringing back the Chamber Ambassador Program, she said.
Brashear said one of her mentors is Lew Rees, events/marketing director for Western News & Info and former Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce director. He has been helpful in getting her to where she needs to be and someone she can bounce ideas off of, she said.
“It’s hard to find other chamber directors out there that have been there, done it or know what you’re doing or going through,” Brashear said. “I’ve been very lucky to have him as somebody that I can go to.”
From the moment he met her, Rees said he could tell that Brashear’s whole focus was to care for the Town of Chino Valley. She is the perfect example of what a chamber director should be, he said.
“She lives, breathes and implements chamber,” Rees said. “I just think the world of her.”
Brashear’s goals don’t just stop at the chamber. She has stated that eventually, she hopes to possibly be on the Chino Valley Town Council and one day, maybe even mayor.
“It’s just a way for me to really be diplomatic, representing the chamber and just getting the word out there who we are and helping our businesses and understanding what our businesses need and want,” Brashear said.
As a whole, Brashear said she just wants the Town of Chino Valley to do well. She said she feels lucky to be a part of it right now, believing herself to be in the right place at the right time.