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Manning is the Auburn Chamber of Commerce's new quarterback

After nearly 10 years on the board, Auburn resident is now the Chamber's president
By: Gloria Young,
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After nearly a decade as an active member of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce board of directors and working in the Leadership Auburn program, Wayne Manning has taken the reins as president. 

Manning and his wife, Janet, moved to Auburn in 2000 when he took over leadership of Unity of Auburn church. After nearly 30 years in the ministry, he retired in 2004 to devote his time to being a credentialed life and business coach with Academy for Excellence in Sacramento.
 
“Since then I have joined the faculty of the school and have become a coach trainer,” he said. “My primary work is training other coaches through their certification process.”
 
Manning got involved with the chamber not long after arriving in Auburn. Through the years he has served in various board capacities and on the executive team, just recently completing his term as president-elect.
 
“I enjoy the teamwork as much as anything — a group of people getting together, having good ideas and making things happen for the benefit of the community,” he said.
 
And he’s looking forward to the coming year as Auburn continues to dig out of the recession.
 
“We certainly want to continue doing what we are doing to help the economic recovery continue,” he said. “Auburn has had a good past year — actually a pretty good past three years since a low in 2010.”
 
Sales tax in the city of Auburn hit a low of $2.5 million in 2010, rebounding to $3.4 million for 2012, he said.
 
“The numbers are kind of telling,” he said. “In the second quarter of 2012, we were almost 30 percent above the same quarter the previous year in sales tax revenue. The interesting thing I’ve found is, where in the past the recovery was led by one or two industries, in this case it was across the board through all kinds of products and services — illustrated by the fact that 79 of Auburn’s top 100 businesses were growing in 2012.”
 
That’s nearly a 30 percent increase over the same quarter the previous year, he added.
 
“In terms of goals, we want to keep doing what we are doing and keep enhancing our relationship with the city and county,” he said. “We have good partnerships there and want to keep nourishing those.”
 
One of the major upcoming projects will be the chamber’s move back to the former city hall building at Central Square.
 
“We should be able to accomplish that by early fall,” Manning said. ”The city is renovating and upgrading the entire building and making space available for us to go back to where we were for a lot of years.”
 
In addition to bringing the chamber back into the center of downtown, the site offers access to a community meeting room. 
 
“It’s a large room available to us and others,” he said. “We’ll be able to have meetings and trainings there. It’s also just closer to the heart of what’s happening, which is what we really appreciate.”  
 
The chamber will likely retain ownership of the building it now occupies on upper Lincoln Way.  
 
“It will become a leased property,” he said. 
 
As president, something he hopes to get off the ground is a plan to bring more visitors to experience Auburn’s outdoor recreation opportunities. 
 
“This would be a concerted effort with city and the chamber to bring more coordination in the wonderful outdoor events we have and offering those as packages to those out of the area to come and have an adventure weekend — whitewater rafting, kayaking, biking, hiking or a combination of those wonderful things,” he said.
 
The packages, for example, would include transportation in and out of the canyon.
 
“You park in Auburn and everything is handled in Auburn, much like on a cruise ship,” he said.
 
He stressed that the idea is in the early development stage.
 
“We’re talking concepts and ideas and seeing it develop over the next two or three years,” he said.
 
He’ll also continue as day coordinator and session speaker with Leadership Auburn, a position that wins high praise from participants. 
 
”It’s one of the highlights that we get the most positive comments about every year from citizens who go through the program,” chamber CEO Bruce Cosgrove said. “They comment on the value of what they learn about themselves through the brief sessions they have as a class with (him).  … He’s bringing really valuable communication and leadership skills to the chamber as a result of his background and experience.”
 
Manning said his goal is to make himself as available as he can as the year unfolds. 
 
“Our working slogan is ‘On the Move in 2013.’ We mean that both the chamber is on the move as well as Auburn — in a larger sense,” he said. “We are so blessed in the last decade to have the leadership we’ve had with city council and the city manager being so aware when we saw all this coming and they positioned us very well for the downturn.”
 
Manning will be involved in a variety of fronts, including economic development, membership development and public relations, Cosgrove said.
 
“He is personally focused on tourism promotion and recreation,” Cosgrove said. “He sees those as viable growing segments of our business community here. He’s also a very strong team builder and I think that that’s going to be very valuable to us as an organization this year.”
 
Manning and his wife, Janet, chose to stay in Auburn after he retired from the ministry because “we love it here and it is our home,” he said.
 
Between the two, they have eight children who now have their own families. In his spare time, he enjoys golf, reading, canyon hiking, walking and movies.
 
Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com