[Below is a transcription of the podcast]
Cheri Landin: Hello and welcome to The Mortgage Company’s Community Partner Podcast Series. One of the things that I get to do is interview our community partners, a couple of them each month and today I have got Jeff Allen with me from the Greater Glendale Chamber of Commerce. Welcome, Jeff.
Jeff Allen: Good afternoon Cheri, thank you for having me.
Cheri Landin: Absolutely. So Greater Glendale Chamber of Commerce, it’s almost like a tongue twister, but I got it.
Jeff Allen: It’s for a reason.
Cheri Landin: Oh ok maybe you ought to give us that reason. Tell us what your role is, how long you’ve been there, and how you got involved with them.
Jeff Allen: I’ve been there 17 years as a director of our board. I’ve been operating the chamber as a COO for six now. Many years ago one of the Chambers of Commerce went around and registered the names of all of the little city’s chamber of commerce. And so when these little cities would come and decide they wanted to establish a chamber of commerce they would promptly notice that the name had been reserved and it was under the property of one particular chamber of commerce. That chamber would perhaps let you borrow the name back but you had to join them and it was a pretty high fee. So we determined that we will just be the Greater Glendale Chamber of Commerce. That name was not taken and it actually fits us better.
Cheri Landin: Oh absolutely.
Jeff Allen: We are a city of about seven square miles. We have one single family home. We have about 200 owned condos and about 5000 apartments but we enjoy probably the largest tax base and we’re the most densely populated city per capita in the state. And so we have the number one Target in the country.
Cheri Landin: Yeah it’s great.
Jeff Allen: Oh it’s amazing. King Sooper’s, thanks to their liquor aisle and liquor sales, that that now draws from a radius of almost 15 miles. It’ their most popular store in their whole outfit. So it works out very well for us. So we’re a unique city.
Cheri Landin: You are booming metropolis. So what is the primary function of the chamber?
Jeff Allen: Three things really. The first one we pride ourself on. If there’s some way or another we can help you and help you meet someone or advance the cause of your business, we want to do that. So we’ll help facilitate those introductions to do that. Secondly, if there is any kind of legislation that could be harmful or helpful to you that’s going through the state house. We will step in and advocate on your behalf for that. Generally, no matter, for the most part, I’m sure there are some exceptions, but whether someone is at the far left or the far right spectrum politically, business generally shares the same attitude. Something that’s good for someone or one of those ends of the spectrum from a business standpoint is good on the other end. So that’s where we step in. So we cast aside our political bias whatever that might be and we could say you know this could help or hurt your business and we’ve done that and we’re very proud of that.
Cheri Landin: So Greater Glendale, that leads me to, does someone, and I know the answer to this but I’m gonna ask you because for a lot of people this can be a misconception, do I have to live in Glendale or do I have to have a business in Glendale to be part of your Greater Glendale Chamber of Commerce?
Jeff Allen: Oh absolutely not. As a matter of fact that’s one of the things that we have really positioned ourselves as. There are two rather large chambers. There’s the Denver Metro Chamber and the South Metro Chamber. And both of those really appeal to medium and smaller sized business but really to large business. We geographically sit between those two. And so we work more in conjunction, you might think that we are a competitor of the Cherry Creek Chamber, but we’re not. Both of those chambers, I tell people that if they can be in both they really should take a look at both Chambers. They generally have more of a retail restaurant make up. The Greater Glendale Chamber of Commerce more is a service-oriented business. But they both fit. And one of the things that we’re very excited about in Glendale is our Glendale 180 project and this gets into a little bit about the function of the Chamber of Commerce. We’re happy and our goal is to grow. We do want to grow, you need growth in any organization or you’ll just whittle away. But we are moving forward and I know people around the area have heard that for some time but it has not really happened. We’ve made an agreement with a developer where we’re going to develop the Glendale 180 project. And so the Chamber of Commerce really operates as an economic development director for the city. And the project will be about 270,000 square feet of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, bowling, theater, the whole deal. And we have identified that people who progress from the suburbs, specifically the southern suburbs, south of Denver to Denver may have business in Denver but they don’t necessarily want to go back to the suburbs. They might like to hang around and have lunch or something like that. So our goal is to drive every conceivable dollar we can, not just tax dollars, but every conceivable business dollar we can to our members. And so with that Glendale 180 project, which will be that entertainment district, this we believe will be returning the entertainment district back into the Glendale area where it used to be many years ago before a lot of those liquor licenses. And you know even from a liquor standpoint those statements we were talking about some time ago are true where people will be able to carry alcohol from one venue to the other and the closing times will not be your traditional 2 o’clock. They’ll be later, some cases 4, some cases perhaps not at all.
Cheri Landin: Yeah well I do know that it’s been talked about for how long now?
Jeff Allen: It’s actually been on our radar for about 15 years. Over that period of time, the city has put together a handful of plans that we, I used to operate on the city council, we assembled land so that we could put together the project. Then we had a situation where one of the landowners, which was not the city, had decided not to become involved in the project. That worked into a couple of lawsuits, those lawsuits are over. And so now the city has selected a new development partner who will who will go ahead and complete the project. So it has had a couple of I would call them starts and stops. Yeah but this time seems to be a go. It does indeed. And really the obstacles are out of the way. One of the things as always is the land assemblage and how are you going to pay for it. And so now both of those situations are solved. The land assemblies that we need for the property are together and the financing, both public and private is in place so the obstacles that used to be, are no longer present.
Cheri Landin: That’s great. I know a lot of people are looking forward to it.
Jeff Allen: We’re very excited about it and it will be very unique. Another thing is parking. We anticipate about 2500 free parking places. We know people are going to come down there, park their cars, and go to the baseball game. But we want them to come back and we want them to experience Glendale. So that’s really the attitude of Glendale and even in our policing. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the story but years ago Glendale used to raise a lot of revenue by traffic stops. We’d have almost 4000 traffic tickets per year. And we as a city felt that it was wrong for a city to collect revenue at the back end of a gun. And what we were really doing was we were irritating people who were coming and spending money. So we have established more of what is called concierge policing. And you can get a ticket in Glendale but you really have to want it. It’s still possible. So we issue now probably about 300 traffic tickets a year but we still have the same amount of stops. So if someone’s got a taillight out, the police introduce themselves, you’ve got a parking light out or a taillight out or whatever the case might be, please get it fixed and come back and see us. Yeah that’s it.
Cheri Landin: That’s unusual. I love it
Jeff Allen: It’s unusual, It is.
Cheri Landin: Well sure. I mean you’ve got, like you said, the King Soopers, the Target, Bed Bath and Beyond just moved into Glendale as well. And so that makes sense. It does.
Jeff Allen: It works really really well and from a city, we’re lucky because the demographics are so strong in the area. And it’s a perfect fit. We couldn’t be luckier.
Cheri Landin: That’s good. All right. So tell me, the chamber, looking to grow?
Jeff Allen: Yes we are. You know it’s kind of interesting and there’s a couple of ways. First off you have to be able to offer networking in a social environment. Secondly, I always tell people we’ve been a good beer drinking chamber and we will continue that, but we also have a lot of business content. And some of that has started off as our morning workshops where we will bring in a different member that comes to that because some who can’t cut loose in the afternoon to attend happy hour can get loose and come to something where they can share either some stories or some situations with other business owners and then we deliver some content relevant to those business owners. But what we are most proud of and what’s been the most successful is the Glendale Girls Club. A couple of years ago, one of the chambers had gone through some leadership change and it was an opportunity for us to replicate something that had worked really well in that organization and that was a group that was there for women that would be run and operated by women. We would support it as we could with money and logistics and so forth. But what it is is a separate organization, invitation only, it’s called the Glendale Girls Club. They are charitable, they provide workshops that are relevant to business content and issues that are important to women and also a social once a month. And so membership in the Girls Club provides those members with access to the Girls Club and full access to the Chamber of Commerce as a whole. However it is a women’s only group and so their functions are open only to the lady members of that chamber, that are members of the Glendale Girls Club.
Cheri Landin: So those are all growing within the Glendale Chamber too. I know the Glendale Girls Club was just celebrating their one year of launch.
Jeff Allen: It’s been amazing: You know originally we thought well how will it work and so forth. Give it time and what was really interesting was it took off a lot quicker than we really thought it might. And I think the club has got the opportunity to be a stronger brand maybe even stronger than the chamber itself. It really transcends the geographical boundaries that are set inside Glendale and a lot of our members are coming from points farther in the city than just our chamber so to me it appears that we’re going to have a little bit more of a reach than we will have just as a Chamber of Commerce.
Cheri Landin: That’s great. So the you know Glendale Chamber is really diverse in its offerings like you mentioned the once a month, the morning program. I think that’s the second Tuesday of the month and I know all this can be found on the website. I think over at the Egg and I and then there’s at least a monthly after hours.
Jeff Allen: We do at least one of those a month and usually we will try and pop in one other one just in the middle of month someplace just kind of a come and get a hamburger and a beer and hang out for a couple hours.
Cheri Landin: And it’s great because it really does try to showcase existing members and it draws people to their businesses and it’s a wonderful thing.
Jeff Allen: It’s a great opportunity for them it’s a great opportunity for people to get out and network at different times of the day. One of the things that we’ve really been, that I’ve been focused on is, I’ve always disliked it when organizations will charge a membership and then they will charge to come to events. And we’ve worked very hard to make sure that those events are without charge. In other words we believe that we can make it with the membership. I will say that our membership investment is probably one of the lesser amounts you would find around the city.
Cheri Landin: It’s the best deal in town I say that and I mean it.
Jeff Allen: Exactly and it’s because we’re doing it and we’re doing it as an economic development tool.
Cheri Landin: OK and then there’s a big difference really if you think about it. Alright I think it’s good people now know that you don’t need to be a Glendale resident to be part of the Glendale chamber. You don’t need to be a Glendale resident to have interest in the Glendale Girls Club or any of the programs that are there. So if there’s people out there listening right now and are trying to find out more about the Glendale chamber, how can they find you guys?
Jeff Allen: GGChamber.com. Don’t get mistaken and go to the California one. We get a call a week from somebody who has joined us by mistake and they meant the Glendale, California one. They would have a better time in ours. They would have a much better time. But absolutely their welcome. And it’s common, it’s very common. We have, over the years, we have quite a following down in the Tech Center, as a matter of fact. It’s just really the proximity. They don’t wish to lose their time once they’ve crawled on to Colorado Boulevard or down i25. They want to spend a little time in Glendale and take part in it. It works well for them and works well for us.
Cheri Landin: Right. Alright. So they can find information at the Greater Glendale Chamber website. And what if someone just wants to come visit one of the events to check out some of the members and see what’s going on and chat with some folks.
Jeff Allen: Glad to have them. You know I’ve often said you know we’re a blank sheet of a paper Chamber of Commerce. If someone would like to come and take a look at our events and see a little bit about the folks there and meet them, they’re welcome to. We kind of just like to have a little bit of a count, like to know that you might be coming so that we can get the facility a count and have enough food and cocktails. But we encourage you to come and take a look. If you find that you’d like to join us and it’s working out well, great. If it doesn’t and they need to wait a little longer, you know we will make an arrangement to help them. But most of the people who leave our chamber do so either because they have gone out of business or they’ve moved far away.
Cheri Landin: Alright well I can attest to it. I mean it’s been a great chamber personally for me and for The Mortgage Company. It’s really wonderful so I hope anyone that has interest, definitely go to the website check it out. There’s an events calendar if there’s something you’re interested in, you can contact through the website or the phone number is there to.
Jeff Allen: We’d be glad to have you. We look forward to hosting you!
Cheri Landin: Alright well thanks Jeff. Appreciate it.
Jeff Allen: Thank you for the opportunity.
Jeff took over the reins of the Glendale Chamber in July 2013, has served on the Chamber’s Board of Directors since 2003, and is a past Glendale City Council member. He heads up a finance and consulting company called Thunderbird Capital and coached high school football for several years.
When the Board of Directors named Jeff the Chief Operating Officer, he planned to take the Chamber to the next level. He has achieved that goal by helping members feel a part of the Chamber and exemplifying how the Chamber plays a vital role in growing and improving their businesses. Jeff also encourages businesses and residents to become more involved with one another, and with the city government, in an effort to create an improved culture of community..