New chamber president backs what’s good for business

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Raising awareness and understanding of the “why” of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce is one of the major focuses for incoming President Richard Hall.
“Part of that purpose is making a difference in the community,” he said.
Hall, who served on the board for three years, said he has been involved in most of the projects the chamber has put on during that time. He and his wife, Dee Paull, are attorneys and opened Bottom Line Lawyers in Downtown Auburn four years ago. The practice handles litigation, real estate, bankruptcy and “more recently, a lot of foreclosure stuff,” he said.
The Halls moved to the area in 1995 from Southern California.
“We were looking for a different lifestyle,” he said. “My daughter was 3 years old. She’s now a sophomore in college. We wanted a real positive environment for her to grow up in.”
A graduate of the University of La Verne, his background includes extensive real estate experience before he went to law school in his 30s.
One of the things he’s done as preparation for his new leadership role is review the past 100 years of chamber history.
“Over that period of time, this chamber is amazing in what it has done,” he said. “It has had a hand in nearly everything.”
That includes community infrastructure — such as streets, lights and sewers — as well as local government, business and cultural objectives.
“Many people don’t know that the chamber had a hand in starting the Auburn Symphony and starting the Tevis Cup,” he said. “So the chamber’s role is sometimes as the actual promoter of the event, but frequently as a collaborator with other organizations for events. Its work is frequently very silent. Most of the things don’t get at a lot of public notice because they are behind the scenes.”
He cited, as an example, the recent rash of Americans with Disabilities lawsuits filed against local small businesses.
“We’ve put on seminars to help our members and other businesses in the community know what they need to do to protect themselves against (ADA) lawsuits and be in compliance with the law,” he said.
Among the items on the chamber’s to-do list this year is putting on a new event. The type and timing haven’t been decided yet, but it will “celebrate Auburn and excellence in Auburn and would underscore our ‘Why’ statement,” Hall said. “Fundamentally, the chamber recognizes that a strong business environment needs a strong community.”
Another emphasis is on the Auburn Business Council.
“The chamber is seeking to support all the other organizations in the community if it is business associated,” Hall said.
Among those are the Placer County Visitors Bureau and the Downtown and Old Town business associations.
“Our role is to support them in achieving their goals,” he said.
He and the board will also be starting the transition process in preparation for CEO Bruce Cosgrove’s retirement next year after 28 years with the chamber.
One of the things Hall enjoys most about being part of the chamber is the people.
“People do business with folks they know and folks they trust,” he said. “The way you do that is through networking. The chamber has three events for that every month — the Good Morning Auburn breakfast on the second Friday of the month, Business After Hours and the luncheon mixer on first Wednesday of the month.”
As he welcomes Hall as president, Cosgrove said he’s excited about the coming year.
“He has come on as president of the chamber at a time where we’ve had three and a half years of challenging economic times,” Cosgrove said. “There is a spirit of optimism in the business community — a belief that things are beginning to turn positive. With Richard, he’s picking right up where Tony Hazarian left off and wants to move some programs forward into 2012 that are going to be good for business, good for the chamber as an organization and good for the community.”
When Hall has free time, he spends it with family. In addition to his daughter in college, he has two other daughters who live out of the area and six grandchildren.
“I try to see them as often as possible,” he said.
He also hikes in the American River Canyon and enjoys cycling.
A longtime hobby is collecting buffalo artwork.
“The American bison is my favorite animal,” he said.
That got its start when he was a Boy Scout and leader of the buffalo patrol.
“I always admired the fact that (Native Americans) respected the buffalo and when they killed them, they used them completely.”
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Chamber welcomes new board members
Umpqua Bank staff member Monique Hall and Preston Marx, attorney with Reynolds Maddux Law Firm in Auburn, were recently named to the Auburn Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.
Board members are selected through an application process.
“We have more people who want to be on the board than we have spots,” Chamber CEO Bruce Cosgrove said.
A nominating committee goes through the applications and makes recommendations to the board. The board then approves the nominations.
“People who represent the board represent the community,” Cosgrove said. “We’re looking for a diverse representation of the business community. Bringing Monique Hall and Preston Marx on the board accomplishes that objective for 2012.”