The conversation with Debi Bray, president and executive director of the Madera District Chamber of Commerce, continues:
“Years ago, we developed this campaign called Keep the Heart Beating. Being the Heart of California, it was designed to keep the heart beating, to keep the economy moving forward. We have to recognize the quality of life we do have through our local business community. Would there be a Little League team if it didn’t have a sponsor? Would there be a football or baseball schedule for the high schools if you didn’t have the monetary contributions of the business community?
“Look at what the local businesses do to keep things moving forward for these organizations … of course, a lot of community people volunteer their time.
“So, I think that’s a really important aspect of business development. Because when you have local leaders working to bring business to the community, before they come here, they’re going to look at the cultural arts. They’re going to look at recreation. They’re going to look at the schools. They’re going to look at the things their families can participate in. And, of course, a lot of these things are brought forth in a collaborative effort and by a lot of contributions from the private sector. It’s truly a team effort among nonprofit organizations, local government and our residents to help preserve what we have going for ourselves.
“And then you have the efforts of business people who work together and help bring about projects such as the Fossil Discovery Center. The county, the volunteers and the people who run that center have really helped put Madera on the map. It started years ago. People talked about a museum, but it was through the efforts of many people that enabled that finally to come to be.
“The local winemakers got together and brought about the Madera Wine Trail, which has become very popular. You have people like Alex Lehman at Homegrown Cellars who pushed to have children go out visit his facilities for education and entertainment. That’s all part of business development.
Next, Debi Bray continues her discussion by touching on tourism as an economic engine.