In light of Republicans capturing control of the state House after 60 years in the minority, Albuquerque Business First’s Dan Mayfield highlighted what policies could have a greater chance of passage in the upcoming legislative session, and high on the list is right-to-work.
As of Jan.1 this year, 24 states are right-to-work states, wherein labor unions are barred from including so-called union-security clauses in collective bargaining agreements with employers. In the remaining collective-bargaining states, of which New Mexico is one, unions may require all workers covered by the agreement to pay dues or fees to cover the cost of bargaining activities. In other words, workers may be required to join a union as a condition of their continued employment.
Union leaders have long argued that since a union represents all workers, and since all workers of a bargaining unit benefit from collective bargaining, each worker must pay his or her fair share of dues or else unfairly receive a free ride.
Like unions, chambers of commerce are member associations. The Internal Revenue Service has described chambers as “direct[ing] their efforts at promoting the common economic interests of all the commercial enterprises in a given … community.”
ALL the commercial enterprises in a given community, it said, even the nonmembers – the “free riders,” in union parlance. And the IRS requires a chamber, as an exempt organization under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code, to have a “meaningful level” of membership support.
But unlike unions, chambers have never guaranteed their income by codifying dues payments from those they represent. In fact, in 1913, when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sought tax exemption through the forerunner of IRC 501(c)(6), it argued in congressional hearings that when chambers of commerce “succeed in their purposes, they increase the incomes, not of themselves, but of the individuals in their communities, irrespective of membership in the organizations.” But to keep the doors open, chambers must earn that meaningful level of membership support by demonstrating their value and, bottom line, actively selling memberships. Chambers have to prove their worth. How is it fair that unions don’t have to do the same?
So for now, New Mexico is a “right-to-dues” state for unions, by statute and by contract. I’m envious, because the Hobbs Chamber must live the mantra “evolve or dissolve” every day, because it is no more immune to negative market forces than our member businesses. We chambers are scrapping to remain valuable, viable and sustainable, and it’s a tough environment. Earlier this year, Albuquerque Business First reported the revenue and net income of 25 New Mexico chambers of commerce, pulled from each organization’s 2012 tax return. Of the 25 chambers listed, 40 percent showed net losses. The Hobbs Chamber, for one, could not withstand consecutive years of net losses, and I assume many of our peers couldn’t either. Can a city’s commercial body afford to see a community institution like the chamber of commerce dissolve?
What to do? For starters, I challenge every New Mexico business owner, executive and manager: Corporate citizenship begins with a membership in the community chamber of commerce. Support the organization that supports you by being a member of the chamber of commerce of each community in which your business operates. If you’re not sold on moral obligation alone, then let me tell you, first among your member benefits is that chamber membership dues, sponsorships and fees paid are tax-deductible business expenses. Some businesses can deduct as much 60 cents of every dollar.
Today in Hobbs, one in about five Hobbs-area businesses is a Hobbs Chamber member. While a sampling of businesses reflecting the wider business community is passable, it doesn’t take a statistician to know a chamber best represents “all the commercial enterprises” when 100 percent of those businesses are on the membership rolls. Sure solves the question of sustainability, as well. Thus, we have articulated the goal to be a “100% Chamber Community” – that the Hobbs Chamber will continuously strive to earn 100 percent of the Hobbs area’s licensed businesses as its members.
So, here’s a challenge to every community chamber of commerce to do the same: let’s compete for bragging rights to see who can come closest to being a “100% Chamber Community” by June 30, 2015. Who’s in?
Grant Taylor is the president and CEO of the Hobbs Chamber of Commerce.
How To Rank Higher In Google Maps
Guest Blogger: Michael Kern from Inform Local
Learning how to rank higher in Google Maps will improve the amount of calls you receive, and traffic to your website or storre front. The traffic and phone calls come from locals in your area that are searching for your products or services. I am going to list the best resources to find citations, and give you advice to improve your Google local business directory listing. Plus I am going to tell you my two favorite and most powerful citation sites.
There are a lot of factors that go into improving your position in Google’s directory. I want to talk about what I consider to be the most important factor, which are citations. If you want to check out all ranking factors and see some studies, check out these articles: Ranking Factors, Google Places quality guidelines and Rank Correlation Data.
A citation is a reference of your business on a webpage other than your own. Citation Example 1: Having your basic business information (Name, Phone number, and Address) listed on Yahoo local. Citation Example 2: When someone writes a review about your business, usually in an online directory like Yahoo Local, or even in a blog post, or press release.
Why Citations Are An Important Ranking Factor
Google only wants to list real local businesses. Webmasters trying to get traffic to their websites have been spamming Google for ever, trying to get their businesses listed outside their actual geographical area. So in order to verify the information entered into the Google Maps Directory, Google crawls the web looking for other instances, or mentions of the same business. The more citations they find, the more they trust, the higher you’ll rank.
So now we understand that we need more citations than our competition, but where do we get them? There is an awesome free tool, I don’t know how long it will remain free, so use it soon. Citation Finder will let you know where you are listed and where you’re not. It delivers you to the page you need via a link, so you can list your business.
There is another way to find citation sources. Put your competitions phone number into Google and search, this will show you all the places they are listed. Repeat this search for your top 3 or 4 competitors and you will have a long list of citation sources.
My Two Favorite Citation Sources
Not all citation sites are created equal, and some are better than others. While you want a lot of citations to help move up your Google Places position, some sites will send customers ready to make a purchase (bingo). The Better Business Bureau (BBB), and your local Chamber of Commerce, are great resources and citation sites.
It is my belief that easy to get citations are not worth as much as citation sources that verify the information that is submitted to them. Some citation sources mail you a code to verify your mailing address, or they call you to verify you actually have the phone number you say you do.
To get an accredited BBB listing, you have to show them your business certificate, and /or show licenses and certifications, sort of prove how long you’ve been in business. Who but real businesses will go through this process.
Many people go to their local Chamber of Commerce, or the BBB when looking for services. These companies are trusted to provide reputable local businesses. Some chambers will let your customers leave a review, and the BBB ranks your business in part by reviews left by past customers (reviews are really citations within a citation).
Nobody has told me Google’s grading system, but I have managed to help my clients get into the top three spots and many to number 1 with what I just shared. One of the keys to learning what works and what doesn’t work is testing.
SEOMOZ.org had a tool that gave you weekly updates. It would give you present and historical rank data. You could see your Google Maps rank for any keyword you plugged in. It also gave you the same data for Bing Local and Yahoo Local. The tool is out of order right now, but we are told it will be back better than ever real soon.
Now you know how to rank higher in Google Maps, get out there and get your citations. It is time consuming work, so add a few every week. You may want to bookmark this post to come back to the tools I have listed.
Hit me up in the comments with any questions or to tell what you have done to improve your local Google places ranking.
http://www.generalservices.state.nm.us/statepurchasing/ has complete information for local small businesses about doing business with the state and working through the procurement process.
For similar information for the City of Santa Fe go here http://www.santafenm.gov/bids_rfps
And for Santa Fe County http://www.santafecountynm.gov/asd/purchasing_division
Many government agencies are required to assign some purchasing to local small business. Take a look at how LANL helps local suppliers here http://www.lanl.gov/business/small-business/general-information.php
The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce recognizes that a strong community hospital is critically important to our economic future. The healthcare sector is forecast to grow and create many well-paying jobs for the future, but in order to create these career opportunities we have to focus on a new way of providing care using the latest methods and systems. But small rural hospitals are under threat: a recent quote from Albuquerque Business First “At the same time that more New Mexicans are getting health insurance, the state’s hospitals are reducing services because of lower reimbursement rates for government health programs like Medicaid and Medicare, according to the New Mexico Hospital Association.”.
It has been refreshing to see that our local elected officials have chosen not to weigh in on the complex contractual negotiations between Christus St Vincent and the nurse’s union. The officials rightly recognize that the world of healthcare and ACA reform is extremely complex and there are no easy answers to questions about funding, technology and staffing.
New management systems, government mandates, insurance and privacy requirements, required staffing levels, patient care procedures, competition from private and regional hospitals, a rising uninsured population, rising costs and other consequences related to healthcare reform. These are enormously complicated issues that are constantly changing. The impacts may not be felt for many years. In this environment, it is worth reviewing some pertinent facts related to local healthcare:
• Christus St Vincent (CSV) is one of only four unionized hospitals in New Mexico.
• CSV serves seven counties and 300,000 people
• 20 New Mexico hospitals had a reduction in expenses last year, eight by more than 10% and three downsized by 20%
• CSV is the largest local non-government employer in Santa Fe and spends over $30 million with local vendors each year
• CSV served over 53,000 emergency patients last year
• CSV nurses work 12hour shifts, three days on and four off, a preference of the nurses
• CSV is a not-for-profit hospital that provided over $47 million in care to the uninsured and under insured last year
• CSV “sole community provider” funding has been reduced from $30million to $4million and is likely to go to zero
• Medicaid reimbursements are now linked to improvements in quality outcomes and improved patient satisfaction indexes
• CSV Nurses with an Associates Degree and no experience start at $51,000 a year. These are great local jobs
• With benefits the average nurses compensation package at CSV is $83,000 for a three day work week
• It costs $800,000 a day to operate the not-for-profit hospital, from which $164M goes to salaries for 1,900 employees annually
Internet pundits enjoy playing the blame game and name-calling CSV management but we clearly have a hospital focused on improving the quality of care during this perfect storm of health care reform and issues are more complex than they might imagine. Christus St Vincent Hospital plays a critically important role in our community. As the major provider of healthcare, as a reliable community partner and as the largest private provider of jobs in the area, CSV is responsible for the health and economic well-being of thousands of Santa Feans. Let’s support positive outcomes and encourage civil discourse around this most important issue.
The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce supports the Santa Fe Area Homebuilders Association and the Santa Fe Association of Realtors in their opposition to raising impact fees on new residential construction. The Chamber recognizes that hundreds of local contractors were severely impacted by the recent recession and we have seen little sign of significant recovery in the construction sector. We believe that the City should be incentivizing job creation for local contractors, not adding additional burden and expense to the cost of new housing. The Chamber urges the City Council to amend the proposed ordinance to remove any language eliminating the 50% reduction on residential development impact fees.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, 1644 St. Michael’s Drive, Santa Fe, NM 87505
Hors d’oeuvres will be provided
RSVP at the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce website or call 988-3279
We need YOU to help us achieve our goal of reaching every 8th grade student in Santa Fe and give them the opportunity to reach her or his highest potential!
The High School graduation rate in Santa Fe is approximately 60 percent. This is a startling fact: but by helping kids to make better choices earlier on, together we can rewrite this statistic.
In order to meet this challenge, we need 20+ volunteers, so please join us for this special event and invite your colleagues.
CHOICES is an easy-to-learn, organized interactive program that you present to 8th graders using your knowledge and real-world experience. Your time commitment would consist of only 2-4 hours throughout the entire school year (September 2014 – June 2015). Presentations are given during the school day in two 1-hour shifts, over the course of two days.
No one can argue with the impact of the CHOICES Program, with powerful responses like the following from the previous year’s students: “I learned about the importance of choices I would make in high school and college and important times in my life.”
What does self-discipline mean to you? “That it’s your choice to be what you want to be.”
And from a CHOICES Presenter: “Why do I do CHOICES? Easy answer. It is because I care. For various supporting reasons, I truly care about making a difference in the lives of my community’s youth. Even if only 1 student makes the connection, I know that a future has been brightened and our community will be better for it. It is really just about giving and paying towards a better future.”
For more information about the CHOICES program, please visit their website: http://www.choices.org/
For additional information about this exciting event, please contact:
SANTA FE – The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe Professional Business Women and the City of Santa Fe are pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Santa Fe Business Awards. The awards were presented at the Chamber’s Red Carpet Business Awards Gala at CCA on June 12 to honor business excellence in Santa Fe.
Over 80 local businesses were nominated this year. Judging criteria included: business growth, customer service, green and family friendly business practices and community involvement. Seven awards were presented, including the three Century Bank Business Excellence Awards, the City of Santa Fe Small Business of the Year Award,Family Friendly Business of the Year Award, the Santa Fe Community College Green Business of the Year Award and a new award – Woman-Owned Business of the Year.
The winners are as follows:
Century Bank Business Excellence Awards
1-4 Employees – Eldorado Audiology
5-20 Employees – Cisneros Design Inc.
21 + Employees – Nurses With Heart
City of Santa Fe Small Business of the Year – Mindshare Studios
Santa Fe Community College Green Business of the Year – Ravens Ridge Bed and Breakfast
City of Santa Fe Family Friendly Business of the Year – Glorieta Creek Mechanical
Woman-Owned Business of the Year – The Santa Fe New Mexican
The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce believes that rewarding businesses for outstanding business practices and leadership is important. These businesses serve as examples to the rest of the community and set the bar for business excellence in Santa Fe.
“We are very proud of the winners and indeed all the nominees” said Chamber president and CEO Simon Brackley. “The local business climate is not easy and we are excited that so many entrepreneurs are succeeding and doing so with excellent business practices.”
Judges for the awards are representatives from the partner organizations and last year’s winners.
About four years ago I wrote the following opinion piece asking for more humane treatment of day laborers and the return of De Vargas Park to its intended use. Since then the situation has worsened. A decline in construction jobs, unlicensed serving of unapproved food products, increased use of Workforce Solutions resources and an increase in those who prey on the unfortunate have made the Park almost unusable by the general public and those who want to walk from the Railyard to the Plaza area.
A Vision for De Vargas Park
De Vargas Park has traditionally been a gathering place for day laborers who are seeking work, mostly in the landscaping and construction industries. The workers gather in front of the Dept. of Workforce Solutions even though the State of New Mexico has no official role in the day laborer program. The laborers provide a valuable service and show an admirable willingness to work hard in tough conditions.
In a thriving economy most of the workers managed to find employment. However in a difficult business climate the demand for day help has declined significantly and each day many workers are left hopeful but jobless.
As the number of non-working laborers has increased we have seen increased trash, drug, alcohol and harassment incidents in the Park area.
I have recently received three letters from individuals complaining that they cannot access the services provided by the Dept. of Workforce Solutions because of sidewalks being blocked and harassment. I have also heard of incidents of urination and vandalism on the grounds of the Santuario de Guadalupe.
De Vargas Park is located in a highly visible area of the city. With the Rail Runner bringing increased pedestrian traffic from the Railyard to downtown, visitors have to negotiate the Santa Fe River, the skate park and dozens of laborers. The port-a-pottie clearly does not fit the historic design requirements and is an embarrassment in a historic area.
A new vision is needed.
Contractors most often start their workdays at Home Depot, Lowe’s or another building supplier. If the day worker program was relocated to the same area, less travel would be needed. A small lot fitted with turn around parking, port-a-potties, drinking water, trash containers and shelter against inclement weather could fill the demand much more comfortably, safely and efficiently for all involved.
De Vargas Park should become a welcoming area with vendors carts offering ice cream, coffee and sandwiches. These licensed start-up businesses could have carts and umbrellas and be an attractive feature for downtown workers and visitors seeking lunch in the park.
In Santa Fe we are very attached to the way things have always been. But the old way is not always the best way. The only thing that is constant is change. Let’s come together and find a solution to the De Vargas Park situation that meets everyone’s needs and benefits our whole community.
The Chamber urges the City of Santa Fe to take immediate action to return the Park to a public gathering place and guarantee access to Workforce Solutions employment services.
President and CEO
Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce
Once again the fabulous Bandstand music series is about to begin on the Plaza. This year there will be even more shows and varieties of music represented, and there will be a few additional events on San Isidro Plaza on Zafarano to better serve Southside residents.
The Bandstand crew do a fabulous job of presenting over 80 shows in all weathers to all kinds of audiences, and many of our visitors enjoy the community celebration that is a Bandstand show.
But the series does not just happen. It requires hours of work by City staff, Bandstand staff, volunteers and other professionals. This effort only happens because of the support, contributions and sponsorship of the City and local businesses. Without this support the series would simply not happen.
You can show your appreciation by shopping at downtown businesses and returning the favor to those who step up each year to make Bandstand happen. Your purchases also generate gross receipts taxes that help the City.
Buy a burger or an ice cream, or a beer or a coffee. Buy gifts for yourselves and others. Share a dessert, enjoy a frito pie, purchase a gift card and support the local businesses who help make the Plaza such a treasure for us all.
A group of thirty local CEO’s and business leaders met in April to share ideas and thoughts as to how the Chamber can most effectively pursue its mission to Grow the Local Economy and Serve as the Voice of Business.
Attendees included: Mike Loftin of Homewise, Paul Margetson of Hotel Santa Fe, Brian Byrnes of the Santa Fe Community Foundation, Bruce Tassin of Christus St Vincent, Dr Joel Boyd Superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools, Kathy Keith of the Regional Development Corp. and Bill Sisneros of El Gancho as well as twenty Chamber Board members.
The focus of the conversation was jobs and how the Chamber can collaborate in the community. The following day the Board met for six hours to discuss the Plan of Work for FY 2014-15 and talked about issues such as infrastructure, workforce development, community development and internal communications.
The feedback from the leaders was extremely helpful and Chair of the Board Chip Chippeaux commented “It was very useful to hear from such a wide range of leaders about their challenges and how the Chamber can better advocate for community improvement and job creation.”
Chamber staff is actively designing the Plan of Work which will be available in the next few weeks. Members are invited to participate and weigh in on the issues that most affect their businesses.