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Los Gatos chamber of commerce director works to balance budget in first year

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After almost a year on the job, executive director Jennifer Lin is proud of the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to balance its budget and build relationships with businesses in the community.

Jennifer Lin came to the chamber in July of last year, after former executive director Catherine Somers left the role along with two of her staff members. Somers had been in the job for almost eight years.

Since then, Lin said, she has worked to build relationships with local businesses and encourage commercial activity in Los Gatos, in addition to addressing the budget deficit the chamber faced at the start of the 2023-24 fiscal year.

Among other strategies, the chamber will be increasing its dues for the first time in at least six years as of July. Lin said given inflation and rising costs, the decision would have been justifiable earlier in her tenure, but she wanted to allow the business community more time to adjust after the pandemic.

“Everything was still a little bit like this pandemic state of things, and I really wanted to get it to a stronger state before we made the case and demonstrated we’re providing you that value, and now it’s time to increase,” she said.

To help alleviate the chamber’s financial woes, the town council in May allocated $88,000 for the chamber to maintain the Los Gatos visitor information center and the “Visit Los Gatos” website. The allocation was renewed from last year; prior to that, the highest amount the town earmarked for the chamber’s services was $55,000.

The chamber has also sought to increase the amount of money it takes in through events like the Los Gatos Wine Walk. The spring wine walk featured a VIP experience that gave ticketholders a preview of Gardenia Coffee, which had yet to open at 115 N. Santa Cruz Ave.

“Just in an effort to stay ahead of other cities that have done something similar and make sure that we cement our position as one of the premier wine tasting experiences, we felt like adding that VIP experience really kind of enhanced our credibility, and it also happened to increase our revenue,” Lin said.

When she started at the chamber, Lin said, businesses were contending with a shift in consumer behavior and still adjusting to the long-term impact of the pandemic, including luring back customers who had grown accustom to shopping online. But she said she quickly learned that Los Gatos residents’ dollars are more meaningful when spent in the community instead of with big companies like Amazon, as it’s an investment in the town’s economic vitality.

“It’s not about saving a few cents or a dollar; it’s like, where do you want to invest?’” she said.



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