One number will connect four local organizations

By Ashley Archibald, The Union Democrat March 19, 2010 12:33 pm

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.