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Focus on Local Business - Jan. 9, 2020

The City of Shafter continues to grow as it keeps strengthening one of the most financially stable cities in Kern County, if not the state of California.

Shafter has a valuable weapon in its arsenal when it comes to attracting new businesses, as well as growing its core city. The Shafter Chamber of Commerce is an integral part of the makeup of the city, helping local businesses in many ways.

If you ask the average resident what the Shafter Chamber of Commerce is, they will probably tell you that they are the people that put on the annual fireworks show. Well, the chamber does put on the event, which has grown into one of the biggest shows in Kern County, attracting a large crowd from Shafter, Wasco, Bakersfield, and the surrounding areas. Zermeno said, "A lot of the Shafter residents are watching the show from their homes in their front yards, or at the parks. The majority of the people we get inside the stadium at the event are people from Bakersfield and other cities."

Rachel Zermeno, the chamber director, said that the Chamber of Commerce is so much more than the group that puts on the fireworks show. "We are here to help our local businesses any way we can, including advertising, assisting with special events and including them on our community calendar."

Zermeno also said that for new businesses, the chamber offers a variety of memberships and option. "We have different levels of membership, and we offer so many tools that can help a new or existing business."

There are 76 members of the Shafter Chamber, growing substantially in the past few years.

In the beginning -- 1931, to be exact -- the Shafter Business Men's Association was incorporated. The Men's Association operated for over six years before the city incorporated in 1938, when the residents numbered fewer than 1,200. In 1946, the Men's Association changed its name to "Shafter Chamber of Commerce."

Over the course of history, the chamber has provided community leadership as a generous contributor to civic activities that celebrate the vibrant agriculture history of Shafter, such as the Shafter Potato and Cotton Festivals, Kern County Fair exhibit, Harvest Jamboree, and of course, the annual fireworks show. Another event that is on the Chamber's annual calendar is the Shafter Chamber of Commerce and Annual Community Service Awards. This year's event is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 23, at 5:30 at the Ford Theater.

The banquet recognizes a variety of Shafter individuals and businesses who have made an impact in the city and is one of the reasons Shafter keeps growing their excellent reputation. They moved the venue for the banquet this last year to the Ford Theater, from the Veterans Hall.

"It was a great move, with the change of venue really being a popular one," said Zermeno. "We also offered different levels of sponsorship for the event, which was a first for the event. This was so successful that we had a surplus of funds that we used to create seven scholarships that we were able to give to Shafter students."

Zermeno said that they will continue the tradition and will hopefully have enough money this year to again give scholarships to deserving students.

If a new business comes to Shafter, Zermeno said that the chamber's job is to contact the business and let them know what the chamber is and how they can help their business grow and thrive in the city of Shafter.

A little-known fact is that you do not need to own a business to be a part of the group. "We welcome businesses and individuals who would like to be involved in the community and help the city of Shafter thrive and celebrate its success," Zermeno said.

A basic membership is only $50 for an individual and $100 for a business. For this, they receive a membership decal, a listing on the chamber's website, a newsletter listing, inclusion in the Newcomers Directory and Community Calendar advertising.

There are also higher levels of membership, including Facebook advertising, Jobs Corner advertising, Fourth of July recognition and Awards Banquet sponsorships.

For more information on the chamber, contact Zermeno at 661-746-2600, or [email protected].


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