Chamber seeks more influence on city - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Chamber seeks more influence on city

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Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 7:05 pm | Updated: 12:28 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The Chandler Chamber of Commerce is hoping for a more robust role in city government and a reorganization of some city staff to focus on the needs of local businesses, according to a policy statement the group released last week.

The 24-page document, entitled "2010: How We Stand," outlines the chamber's policy recommendations to the Chandler City Council and state legislators. Proposals include having city government create a new "ombudsman" specifically charged with assisting small and mid-size businesses clear regulatory hurdles, and establishing a citizens' panel - including city and chamber leaders, economic development staff, local business owners, developers and real estate brokers - aimed at streamlining development plan review and inspections.

Chamber members also have asked for the opportunity to give city officials quarterly presentations on the local business climate.

Ginamarie Pellerito, the chamber's business development and public policy director, said the chamber's 2010 political agenda is slated to be aired at the organization's "An Evening with our Elected Officials" event on Jan. 6 at Siracha restaurant. Admission is $15 for chamber members, $20 for nonmembers. The aim is to promote engagement between the business community and the City Council members, state legislators and county officials scheduled to attend.

"It's a great way to communicate with our elected officials," Pellerito said.

The policy statement also serves as a standard against which the chamber evaluates potential candidates for office, she said.

"This is kind of a check sheet we put together," Pellerito said.

Most of the recommendations simply endorse what Chandler is already doing. One urges officials to focus on downtown redevelopment, which the chamber says is critical to the local economy. Others support the city's efforts to create a 20-year transportation master plan, and to attract bioscience and health care companies through public incentives.

The document goes on to endorse the use of eminent domain when "prudent, reasonable and necessary" for economic development and argues against the idea of cutting city funds to police and fire in an attempt to balance Chandler's budget.

Some of the suggestions already are being employed by East Valley cities. For instance, Gilbert reassigned one of its customer service managers to the position of ombudsman in October to help small-business owners and entrepreneurs navigate the city's development approval process.

Jane Poston, a Chandler city spokeswoman, said the City Council is taking the chamber's suggestions under advisement.

"We want to give them time to look at it," she said.

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