On January 25, 2018, Teamsters Advantage Director Mark Orr was installed as a Director of the Redlands Chamber of Commerce, beginning a three year term as the only non-business-owner on the chamber’s Board.
Orr has been a constant presence at chamber events to further the mission of Teamster Advantage, the shop local program created by Teamsters Local 1932 in November 2016. Central to Teamster Advantage is the importance of local spending for healthy economic development, and due to Orr’s work, the union now has partnerships with over 200 locally owned businesses that have agreed to offer program members a reward discount for their committment to shopping locally.
Redlands Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathie Thurston describes Teamster Advantage as an “extraordinary initiative.. It’s a perfect fit for the chamber, frankly,” pointing to Orr’s familiarity with local business chamber members and the results that Teamster Advantage brings these businesses.
“Small business owners can relate to the fact that big corporations get tax breaks and they don’t,” says Orr, a native of the San Bernardino County region. “When I meet them, whether out on a door-to-door visit or at a chamber event, I hear them understand our program and say, ‘They took my business and you’re trying to give me business.’ They see that Teamsters care about the local economy.”
The evidence of strong community benefits from local spending is strong — a 2003 study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that while $100 spent at a big box retailer only generated $14 in subsequent local spending by the retailer, when $100 were spent at a locally owned business the subsequent local spending tripled.
Teamsters Local 1932 is currently a member of dozens of local Chamber of Commerce branches across the Inland Empire, including the 600 member large Redlands chamber. Local 1932 General Manager Randy Korgan says, “Mark’s installation proves that we can move the dial on perception of the Teamsters in the community.”
In addition to bringing Local 1932 together with local business owners, chamber memberships have enabled the union to support community events to the point of fruition, with one highlight being it’s recent major sponsorship of the first annual Redlands New Year’s Eve Orange Drop. City of Redlands Teamsters were even the ones to drop the titular Orange to ring in the New Year.
“Our members make the city great with their hard work,” Korgan says. “We want the broader community to recognize that.”