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BUSINESS

Chamber appears in magazine

In the midst of controversy over spending of a grant from the city of Ashland, the Ashland Chamber of Commerce has been recognized in Oregon Business magazine for its guide to doing business and study of industry clusters.

Along with an exposé about business in the changing Southern Oregon region, the magazine&

s January 2006 issue contains a short blurb about the chamber&

s work.

&

We wanted to showcase the fact that it&

s a great place to raise a family,&

Ashland Chamber of Commerce executive director Sandra Slattery said.

Oregon Business magazine recognized the local chamber for an industry cluster study. The idea for the local study came from an Oregon Business Plan Summit, Slattery said. Studying similar businesses in the same geographic location that help each other economically through competition and sometimes shared buyer-seller relationships seemed like a good idea to the chamber, especially to take the big concept and localize the study.

&

We thought it would be interesting to see how it works in a small town,&

Slattery said.

Hiring an independent researcher to interview leading business owners in the &

clusters&

of tourism, healthcare, technology, recreation and food manufacturing, the Ashland Chamber of Commerce tried to break down the economic drivers in the community.

With a $10,000 budget that was used mainly to pay the independent researcher Rebecca Reed, the chamber has been working for months to complete the study. The funding came from part of a $242,000 grant from the city &

$160,000 of which was supposed to be spent to promote economic sustainability. In December three city council members requested more detail in how this money was spent for this cause.

While the chamber will not release the results of the study until the beginning of February, it is already touting the study as proof that young families can potentially move to Ashland and make a sustainable living. Christina Williams &

the author of the Oregon Business magazine about the chamber &

agreed.

&

She saw it and said, &

145;Wow, this is a distinctive piece,&

&

Slattery said.

Once the magazine decided to feature Ashland, Slattery and president of the chamber Graham Lewis decided to advertise in it with a one-third-page advertisement showcasing Ashland as a place to grow one&

s business.

While the chamber is pushing this recognition as proof that cooperation among niche businesses will help promote sustainability, Slattery said she hopes to see the chamber working with more statewide publications to showcase Ashland as an entrepreneurial hotbed that will last.

&

Now we have our press room working with business publications, not just visitor publications,&

Slattery said.

While the chamber&

s spending may still seem vague to some city council members, its work has impressed the editors of Oregon Business magazine with their guide to doing business in the Valley.

The magazine&

s publisher, Gillian Floren, said it is doing special sections on different regions of the state. Southern Oregon is the second region to be featured.

She wrote, &

Your region (Southern Oregon), with its phenomenal growth rate, boasts an increasingly sophisticated mix of businesses. Growth brings challenges, too, of course, but the increasingly diversified business community points to a more solid and sustainable future.&