Local Chambers Plan to Form New Group

Creating what could be one of the state's largest business support groups, leaders of two Conejo Valley chambers of commerce agreed Tuesday to join forces.

The Thousand Oaks/Conejo Valley and Westlake Village chambers would become the Conejo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce with about 1,300 members, under the proposal approved by board members.

Rank-and-file members of both groups will vote on the proposal by mail later this month and are expected to approve it overwhelmingly.

With the combined membership, the group would be in the top 20 in the state.

"I think the direct benefit they'll see is that there is truly strength in numbers," said Dave Kilby, vice president of the California Chamber of Commerce in Sacramento.

"Chambers cannot be concerned about a political line drawn on a map," he added. "The issues of commerce and the issues of the community don't necessarily stop once they hit city borders."

The combined chamber would have the ability to offer a host of personal services to its members, including marketing workshops for small businesses and networking sessions for larger companies, officials said.

Overall, the chamber could begin to focus on issues that directly affect local businesses throughout the entire Conejo Valley.

"Basically, there was always a feeling of Westlake Village vs. Thousand Oaks, an us-and-them mentality, but we moved past that today," said Kris Carraway-Bowman, mayor of Westlake Village and a member of the Thousand Oaks/Conejo Valley Chamber.

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