The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors recently approved the addition of two local business leaders to serve as members of the Board.   Dr. Kevin Walthers, president/superintendent of Allan Hancock College, and Jean-Luc Garon, general manager of the Historic Santa Maria Inn, will serve as voting members of the board effective immediately.

“Our Board serves as our connection to the broader business community,” stated Glenn Morris, president/CEO of the Chamber.  “It’s important that we have individuals serving on the board who can help ensure we’re meeting our mission of creating an environment in which business can thrive in our community.    We are fortunate to have a very engaged group of local business leaders guiding our organization and the addition of Dr. Walthers and Mr. Garon will further strengthen that leadership.”

Tim Ritchie, Chairman of the Board, welcomed the new board members, saying, “I am excited to have outstanding leadership and representation from our fine college, as well as the hotel industry join our Board.  As they have demonstrated within their businesses, I am confident they will be invaluable as new Directors.”

Mr. Morris added, “In addition to being strong supporters of the Chamber, Dr. Walthers and Mr. Garon represent important partners and economic sectors in our community.  Hancock College is a critical partner in ensuring our employers have a qualified, prepared workforce available.  Additionally, the hospitality/tourism sector is a major part of our local economy, so we’re pleased to have that industry represented in our leadership.”

Mr. Garon indicated that joined the Board of Directors to be more directly involved in the community.    He said, “Working in the hospitality industry, I get the chance to see firsthand what attracts people to this community. My goal is to continue to drive business to Santa Maria.”   Dr. Walthers added that joining the Board, “reflects the college’s strategic direction to be fully integrated with the community.”

Members of the Chamber Board serve as volunteers and provide policy guidance, fiscal oversight, and general leadership to the Chamber of Commerce staff.   The Chamber Board currently has 20 voting members.

The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce is the largest business organization in northern Santa Barbara County.  Its members include small businesses, corporations, associations, and individual professionals.   Since its inception in 1902, the Chamber has worked to better the region’s business climate, forge a stronger community, and improve the quality of life.   The Chamber works with local government, education, private industry and a host of other partners to improve the business environment and promote Santa Maria as a premier community in which to vacation, live, work, and do business.