There are two chambers of commerce in Chula Vista serving the business community.
Chief operations officer of the recently established San Diego South County Chamber of Commerce, Ed Herrera, who at one point served on committees at the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce, said there is no competition between the two but different ideas are what pushed him to branch out.
“If I were to see the other chamber as competition then I am in the wrong business,” Herrera said. “Our competition is helping businesses see their own competition and succeed.”
Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce CEO Lisa Cohen also said she does not see the other chamber as competition.
“We’re part of the solution, were not here to pick on anybody,” Cohen said. “We are here to work with all entities, we’re a democracy. We have a vision and the information we give out is for the community as a whole.”
Both groups are invested in helping the city create more revenue by bringing new businesses to Chula Vista and supporting the revitalization of the bayfront.
When it came to Proposition H, the chambers were divided. The Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce supported it while the South County Chamber of Commerce did not.
Cohen recently said the Chula Vista commerce board of directors decided to back up Prop. H because it was designed to protect existing locally controlled revenues that fund street repairs, park maintenance, recreation, library facilities and public safety.
Herrera said the South County chamber did not support Prop. H because “having the tax on telecommunication could have jeopardized new businesses opening in the city, they would have gone with other areas that don’t charge it.”
City Council member Steve Castaneda said the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce is heavily involved in city politics and if a business does not feel supported by the stance the chamber takes they could lose that membership.
“They are government focused and are embedded in the political process of Chula Vista, they often endorse candidates and take sides,” said Castaneda. “Sometimes it is effective, but at times they end up responding to the need of politicians versus their businesses.”
Castaneda added that it is in the best interest of both chambers to fully back their members during these struggling economic times, because businesses will not think twice about spending renewal membership fees.
Cohen said the Chula Vista chamber weighs in on politics and propositions to stand up for what could positively and negatively affect local businesses.
On the contrary, Herrera said the South County chamber does not plan on getting involved with local politics.
“We are not about politics, you won’t see us at City Council meetings,” Herrera said. “Were not looking for plaques, we have a different vision.”