One number will connect four local organizations

Ashley Archibald, The Union Democrat /

The Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority approved an agreement with three other agencies to create a one-stop phone number for clients seeking advice for their businesses.

The TCEDA was the last of four organizations - including the Service Corps of Retired Executives, Small Business Development Council and Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce - to sign the memorandum of understanding that created the Business Alliance.

The Alliance allows local businesses to go to one Web site

(www.thebusinessalliance.net) and call one number ((209) 677-7822) to

get targeted help from the multiple consultants available from the four

entities.

"We had these little silos everywhere," said Larry Cope, director

of the TCEDA. "I did what I usually do and took them into a room and

locked them in there."

The Alliance was born out of a series of meetings. A single phone

number currently routes to the Chamber of Commerce, where receptionists

will answer the phone and ask the client questions aimed to identify

which organization or person can best meet their needs.

According to Cope, the number is independent of any of the agencies

and acquired through Google. With a click of a mouse, Cope can direct

calls to different physical locations, meaning that if one agency

closes its doors for whatever reason, another agency will pick up the

phone.

The person who answers the phone will fill out a worksheet that

sends an e-mail alert to the person best able to help the client,

according to Beth Hartline, administrative assistant with the TCEDA.

Hartline developed the form that connects clients to consultants.

That consultant will then call the client.

The goal is to streamline a process that has, in the past, forced

businesses to call multiple consultants and be ping-ponged to different

agencies, Cope said.

The TCEDA appointed a final at-large board member, Patricia Jones.

Jones was selected to fulfill Zachary Britton's term, which will end in

December.

Jones runs a consulting firm, and served on the Sonora Area

Foundation board as well as the board of the now-defunct Tuolumne

General Hospital.

The entity also approved slogans to represent economic development both inside and outside of the county.

The phrase "Great Things are Happening ... NOW!" will accompany

economic development projects in the county, and "The Business and

Cultural Center of the Sierra" tagline will be added to materials that

go to outside entities.

The external slogan is meant to encourage outside businesses and people to locate in Tuolumne County.

When questioned on how much cultural work the TCEDA does, Tuolumne

County Supervisor Dick Pland referred to the reference as "bait."

The meeting took place at Kinematic Automation, a company that

produces specialized medical equipment for companies around the world.

Kinematic currently makes the machines that produce diabetic

testing strips, pregnancy tests and tests for biological warfare agents.

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