Two separate, but not competing, organizations have the goal of helping Brentwood’s businesses succeed. They are the Downtown Brentwood Coalition (DBC) and the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce (BCC).
The DBC focuses on downtown businesses while the Chamber’s purview is the town as a whole. Here’s a look into their differences and similarities.
Downtown Brentwood Coalition
The sole paid employee of the DBC, Executive Director Amy Tilley, works from her office inside the Brentwood Press building with her one-year anniversary this month. The DBC was created 15 years ago by downtown businesses looking to collaborate on promoting their shops and services. They originated Brentwood’s Oktoberfest, initially offering a single keg of beer to about 100 attendees.
Historically, the DBC has been a group of volunteers with an interest in supporting each other’s business. Beginning when Brentwood’s downtown was a little quieter, the group’s focus has always been to make downtown an inviting and enjoyable place to shop.
Tilley is the first paid executive director — her position is funded by the city — among the volunteer board of directors.
The most important role of the DBC is to support and promote small business members and its nonprofit partners, she said. One way they do that is by planning events to bring new faces and exposure to their organizations, by way of events such as Moms Take Over Downtown, Bubbles and Broomsticks, Before the Bird, and Winter Wine Walk & Tasting that bring lots of people to downtown.
Tilley also works closely with local shop and restaurant owners downtown to promote their separate specials and events via social media and flyers. As a former business consultant, she also helps them develop strategies to increase profits.
Randi Moser, owner of clothing store Alluv Place, says Tilley’s addition to the DBC has done wonders for downtown shops.
“Amy is amazing,” Moser said. “I’m telling you what, she’s been an amazing force because in terms of retail we’re kind of outnumbered here right. There’s tons of restaurants and tons of drinking establishments but in terms of retail there’s really not a lot of us down here. So Amy Tilley is amazing and we definitely feel her support.”
Tilley wants to trumpet businesses like Moser’s. “I advocate on their behalf, so I talk with local law enforcement and city staff. I file different reports for them, just to try to get more support,” Tilley said. “We highlight and promote the sales, offerings and services of Downtown so regularly. We want the community to know that in addition to the experience, downtown also has many of the services and offerings that can be found in surrounding cities and online. That is an important reason we are launching the We Love Local Pass in February —to bring the community into downtown on weekdays and share the things they may not be aware of.”
The DBC is a 501 (c)(6) nonprofit, which means it works without generating a profit. Members of the DBC, usually business owners, pay an annual fee, which is reinvested into events downtown.
Sponsorship from businesses offsets the cost of event promotion and facilitation. Sponsor funds allow many events to be free for the public, but some involve a ticket fee.
According to the agreement with the City, the goal is for the executive director to be self-funded within three years, Tilley said.
Tilley’s goal for the future of the DBC “is to fortify and strengthen the organization in a way that ensures it thrives, regardless of who is at the helm,” she said. “The organization will always have the executive director position. The goal is to shore up the structure of the board and the subcommittees, so that even when personnel changes occur, the organization remains strong.”
To find out more about the Downtown Brentwood Coalition and its member businesses, go to www.brentwooddowntown.com.)
Brentwood Chamber of Commerce
The BCC is a network of businesses and entrepreneurs that volunteer time to help Brentwood’s businesses flourish. Their office is inside the Community Center at 35 Oak St. The BCC, established in 1952, focuses more broadly on business across all of Brentwood while the DBC represents a small portion of Brentwood – downtown. The BCC consists of a board of directors and ambassadors connecting the Chamber to local businesses. More than 200 members make up the BCC, with companies including locally owned shops, restaurants, accounting firms, real estate agents, and retail consultants.
BCC President Tom Santamorena said the Chamber’s goal is to create an environment that helps more businesses invest time and real estate in the area. The major events the BCC puts on have been a tradition in Brentwood for decades. Hometown Halloween is popular in the fall, and they most recently presented their 40th annual Holiday Parade. The BCC also hosts monthly mixers for various businesses to help people network more efficiently. They are also responsible for ribbon-cutting ceremonies when new businesses open.
A new event in 2022 was the LaGrand Fiesta, and the other events included the East Bay Business Expo, Citizen of the Year and Business of the Year gala, power networking among businesses and Master Mind training sessions.
“We have to support our local businesses here, or we won’t have a vibrant city,” Santamorena said. “Otherwise, we’re just going to be a bedroom community to some other place. We want to have our businesses succeed so that other businesses outside start thinking ‘Brentwood is a place to be, we need to do business in Brentwood.’”
The BCC is also a registered non-profit whose income is generated from membership dues, and funds raised by events and sponsorships by local businesses. The board is composed of volunteers who donate hundreds of hours each month to get events up and running, except for a part-time office manager who is paid a salary from their budget.
Santamorena says the theme for his presidency has been diversity, a concept with a double meaning. While the Chamber of Commerce is ethnically diverse, Santamorena looks to continue diversifying its array of community ambassadors.
Both the DBC and the BCC receive economic development grants from the city that offer a small percentage of costs and offset the fees the city of Brentwood charges for sanitation and safety of events. To plan for their annual budget, they must apply for grants annually in March for their calendar year beginning in July.
For a list of BCC events, visit www.brentwoodchamber.com.