Home » Antioch City Council Agrees to $125k to Antioch Chamber for General Support

Antioch City Council Agrees to $125k to Antioch Chamber for General Support

by CC News

The Antioch City Council provided direction to city staff to move towards providing the Antioch Chamber of Commerce $125k for “general support.

The action occurred at the November 25 meeting and was brought forward by Mayor Lamar Thorpe along with a $100k proposal by Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker.

Daniel Sohn, Antioch Chamber CEO, said they were both “excited” and “proud” the item was on the agenda and was a great way to head into the holiday season full of gratitude.

Sohn said this was two separate appropriates within the single agenda item and explained their plans for the funds.

The first proposal was the $25k to use over a 3-year period in support of the chambers small business investment center—SBIC which is a business incubator which has 15-20 applicants and are still accepting applications through December 31.

According to Sohn Chamber President and CEO, to qualify, a business must meet three requirements which include:

  • Your business you would like to start must be located within City of Antioch or county
  • Identify as a member of a marginalized community (women, entrepreneurs of color, individuals identifying as members of the LGBTQ+ Community, and individuals who have served in the United States Military and identify as U.S. Veterans.)
  • Willing to commit to 1-year program, including 3 financial business literacy courses offered by Travis Credit Union.

He told the council Tuesday that its important for the public to know the businesses who are applying will not receive any of this money, the money given by the city is to put on the program over a three year period.

The $100k being proposed was over a 5-year period after the chamber board voted in May to create a sub-organization aimed at supporting industries hit hardest by the pandemic with emphasis on supporting businesses in Antioch, engaged in tourism, destination planning and hospitality—hotels and lodging, food and beverage, and recreation and events.
Sohn says on May 25, “Visit Antioch” was born which is aimed at improving economic growth, awareness and consideration of Antioch as a destination for travelers, meeting and event planners. He also said they also have submitted an application to become a host site for certified tourism ambassadors program and the application is under review.

“Once approved, Visit Antioch will be the first and only licensed program serving the east and northern bay areas,” said Sohn. “This certification is an industry recognized certification that drives visitor spending through an in-depth knowledge of tourism and the tourism product while giving destinations a competitive advantage and strategically aligns community stakeholders like the City of Antioch to deliver a positive brand experience. To sum it up, this means hospitality and tourism professionals will be coming to Antioch to receive industry recognized education.”

Councilmember Lori Ogorchock recommended the city add another allocation for $100k specifically to the Antioch Cares program done through the chamber.

“Antioch Cares has run out of their funds,” said Ogorchock. “If a small business in the city has damage, there are no more funds to be given to the chamber to hand out those funds. So if we are going to do this, I would ask we do another $125k on top of the $125k to go back into the Antioch Cares program. That is my request.’

Sohn confirmed the Antioch Cares program was out of funds after it just allocated its final $500 to a local business while noting those funds go to any business in Antioch whether a chamber member or not.

“We are looking to replenish the funds for that program,” said Sohn. “The money goes right back into the community in ways that chamber typically wouldn’t serve the community but we can give money with these funds for broken windows and so forth.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica asked about oversight and show how they are using the income. The City attorney confirmed they would have measurables and would not be a blank check.

Thorpe clarified said they would not be giving the money to the chamber, but rather the chamber foundation Sohn confirmed while noting how its spent would be its own advisory—including a member of the city council to the advisory board for oversight.

Torres-Walker thanked Sohn for helping to create a relationship because the chamber is portrayed as these angry business people who have self interest and not community interest.

“I feel like you have helped me understand that its not the case here in Antioch,” said Torres-Walker who said businesses do need funds through the Antioch Cares program. “I am really excited about this for Antioch. When you invest in business, you invest in jobs.”

Torres-Walker said she wanted to support all items proposed.

The council provided general consensus to move forward with the $125k and also agreed to move Ogorchocks request to the ARPA funding discussion in the future.

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