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VALLEY AND VENTURA COUNTY | VENTURA COUNTY REVIEW

New Chamber Chief Discovers Spirit of Camarillo's Commerce

July 28, 1998|LEO SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Lin Holzinger had long viewed Camarillo as an attractive semirural area with beautiful farms and an abundance of quality shopping, in the form of a massive factory outlet and other retail centers.

But in her two months as executive director of the city's Chamber of Commerce, she said, she has come to learn that there is much more to the Ventura County town than meets the eye.

"There's an underpinning of excitement about the economic development of the city," Holzinger said. "The [Cal State] University provides a great opportunity for the chamber because it's going to promote business growth. It's an example of the type of things that are happening in Camarillo that are not easily visible."

Holzinger was hired to head the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce at a time when the city is preparing for significant growth--with planned further expansion of the Camarillo Premium Outlet center and the transition of the Camarillo State Hospital property to the CSU Channel Islands campus.

Holzinger joined the chamber after spending about two decades in the hospitality and tourism industry, marketing hotels in Philadelphia, Montana and the Napa Valley.

Locally, Holzinger's clients have included the Pacifica Hotel Co. of Santa Barbara and Oxnard's Performing Arts Center.

As part of the hospitality and tourism industry, Holzinger said, she gained an appreciation for the role of chambers of commerce in helping to promote individual businesses and build a region's overall economy.

"As director of marketing for hotels, I would interact with chambers of commerce and visitors bureaus," she said. "They were our best friends. In every situation, you always wanted to get to know them so they would speak kindly of your hotel or property or your destination."

Now heading her own chamber office, Holzinger said she has a similar goal in mind.

"The new emphasis for the chamber as well as the city is that we really want to focus on tourism," she said. "It will be centered around the shopping areas, but we are talking about cultural tourism, what we have culturally to offer tourists--we have a very rich history.

"My overall goal is to be able to put Camarillo on the map, not necessarily as a tourist destination--I don't know if we're equipped for that--but as a tourist stop, to capture the people who come here to shop and get them to stay longer."

Along with tourism, Holzinger said, she realizes that the chamber must serve as a source of information and support for the industries that make up Camarillo's business community.

"There's a shift from this rural type of environment to this wonderful high-tech, strong, vibrant economy that is the future of Camarillo," she said.

"We need, as a chamber, to build value for all segments of our members, through education," she said. "How to run a business more effectively, the resources available to help you, as a business owner, get better at what you do. And we need to provide networking opportunities."

Holzinger said she and the chamber's board of directors are in the process of identifying ways to better serve the manufacturing segment of the business community. Members have developed a Manufacturing Council committee to develop a list of member concerns.

The chamber also has developed a committee to serve as a networking group for representatives of small offices and home offices.

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