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Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Announces
New CEO Tom Hoffert

"After a comprehensive search process, we are pleased to
have Tom Hoffert lead the Chamber
into its next season of growth, innovation and member service."

Tom Hoffert

    The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, the leading voice of business in the Mid-Willamette Valley, has named Tom Hoffert, as the organization's Chief Executive Officer effective January 2, 2019.
    "Tom will continue the mission of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce as an advocate for a healthy business climate," said T.J. Sullivan, Chamber Board President and President of Huggins Insurance. "Tom's vision, integrity and exceptional background makes him uniquely positioned to lead the Salem Chamber membership and the regional business community in support of a strong and vibrant local economy."
    Hoffert, born and raised in Salem, graduated from Sprague High School and Western Oregon University. He previously worked at the Chamber as the Director of Public Affairs from 1998 to 2004. He went on to lead culinary innovation at Don Pancho Authentic Mexican Foods for nearly 15 years.
    "The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce has an outstanding reputation serving and representing the area's robust business community in our region and beyond," said Tom Hoffert, incoming Salem Area Chamber of Commerce CEO. "I am very excited to work with Chamber members, leadership, key stakeholders and regional partners to build on the Chamber's reputation as the preeminent membership organization for business. This is an exciting time, and the Chamber is well positioned to develop new and exciting opportunities for businesses.
    The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce is a privately-funded 501(c) (6) not-for-profit membership organization that advocates for business, community and economic prosperity. The Salem Chamber represents over 1,200 businesses, who employ over 50,000 Oregonians in the Mid-Willamette Valley. Led by a volunteer board of directors, the Salem Chamber is dedicated to sustaining Salem's quality of life, and keeping the community and economy vibrant. To learn more about the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, please visit

Avoiding the "Transparency Trap"


    Unless you're in highly supervised production environment, it's not likely you're watching your staff every minute of the workday. However, if you are trying to improve efficiency, it's good to know how your employees spend their time working.
    Keeping employees productive and on task, after all, is part of a manager's job. However, over-supervising employees or questioning every part of a job process can sometimes have the opposite effect. An article published a few years ago in Harvard Business Week titled "the Transparency Trap" offers an interesting argument about workplace transparency.
    The author observes that "individuals and groups routinely wasted significant resources in an effort to conceal beneficial activities because they believed that bosses, peers, and external observers who might see them would have no idea how to properly understand them." In other words, if a manager knows what an employee does, but does not understand why they do it that way, could lead to the manager mistakenly halting or slowing down a beneficial process. Imagine a manager who monitors everything their office accountant does.
    If the manager does not have an accounting background, they will certainly have questions. They may ask the accountant why they record transactions even though money isn't changing hands (accrual accounting anyone?). The manager may think they can save money by asking the accountant to "simplify things" or "do it another way." This, of course, could be detrimental to a business's financial management.
    Managers fall into this trap because they don't trust what they don't understand (or are so arrogant they think they know it all). If you're hiring any kind of professional, they're going to know something you don't.
    Apple founder Steve Jobs said it best, "It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people, so they can tell us what to do." If you know how to do everything your employee knows how to do, you've hired "labor," not a business professional. If employees are adding value to an organization and fulfilling their workplace obligations, managers should leave them to their work.
    There's a fine line between supervising and "back seat driving." A manager needs to know when to ask questions and when to trust the expertise of others. Competent staff should also be transparent about his or her work and be able to alleviate a manager's concern and explain a process when asked. Managers should strive to consider a combination of the ultimate outcomes (are things working?) and the employee's knowledge and experience before picking apart a process. By trusting your employees to do their jobs, you can avoid falling into the "transparency trap."
    Mary Louise VanNatta, APR, CAE is the CEO of VanNatta Public Relations a PR, Consulting and Event Planning firm in Salem, Oregon.

A Tale of Two Governing Philosophies
Spend it while you got it or...

Anthony K. Smith
State Director,
Oregon NFIB

    Spend it while you got it or build efficiencies in preparation for the times you don't? Recent proposals from Gov. Kate Brown and Secretary of State Dennis Richardson appear to be a tale of two governing philosophies.
    Coming off her successful November bid for re-election, Governor Brown released her recommended budget for the 2019-21 biennium. Her plan calls for $23.6 billion in total General Fund/Lottery spending, which includes the reauthorization of several temporary taxes - and some new taxes as well.
    To put this number in perspective, the budget for the 2013-15 biennium was $16.7 billion, increased to $19 billion for 2015-17, and boosted again for the 2017-19 biennium to $21.1 billion. In addition to the new taxes proposed in her base budget for the next biennium, the governor wants $2 billion in brand new spending to be dedicated to education. If adopted by the Legislature, the state's next two-year budget would grow to $25.6 billion, an increase of $4.5 billion from our current state budget.
    Just weeks after releasing her revenue and- spending plan, the Oregon Legislature met in Salem to cue up bills for the upcoming session. House and Senate committees will officially introduce bills that raise property taxes (business and residential), increase taxes on certain pass-through businesses, increase corporate income taxes, and increase taxes on beer and wine, just to name a few.
    That same week, the new Joint Committee on Student Success was presented with cost estimates for more than 50 policy recommendations previously submitted to the Legislative Fiscal Office for analysis. The total came to more than $3 billion.
    Oregon's economy is doing well: Unemployment rates are hovering near all-time lows, state income tax receipts are at an all-time high, job growth has outpaced population growth, and median household incomes continue to rise. Most other states are doing well, too.
    Peculiarly, one sign of how well the economy is doing is the increased talk of a looming recession. Although economists at the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis aren't yet predicting when a recession will occur, there is ample evidence in the data indicating that economic growth is likely to slow sometime in the next year or two in Oregon - and the rest of the U.S.
    Compounding this challenge is the fact that, even during times like these when the economy is doing quite well, Oregon has a persistent structural budget deficit. Decisions made long ago have resulted in everincreasing required payments from public employers into the state's public pension system (PERS), which have strained government budgets at every level, from school districts to the state itself. Funding the expansion of Oregon's Medicaid program (OHP) has also proved to be an expensive challenge.
    So, will Oregon shortly find itself like the horse racing bettor whose winning streak has run cold, or can it muster some prudence over its spending and prepare itself to cushion whatever blows a recession will throw its way?
    For a sneak peek at how it could cushion itself, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson released an audit showing that the adoption of a statewide electronic procurement system could potentially save the state up to $1.6 billion in the 2019-21 biennium. The secretary's office already has plans to implement the system this year.
    What would $1.6 billion in savings mean for Oregon? First, the state could fill the $623 million budget hole required to maintain current service levels for all state agencies, including full funding for OHP and PERS. Second, 10 school days could be added to bring our statewide average up to 180 days of student learning. This was the policy recommendation with the largest price tag presented to the Student Success Committee in December ($516 million). Depending on the actual savings generated from the secretary's audit, the committee may still have an additional $461 million to spend on other education priorities. All without raising taxes.
    Finding budget-saving efficiencies, as Secretary Richardson has commendably done, cannot by itself protect Oregon from a recession's severest blow. For that, the state's top policy makers will need to resist making a tax-and-spend approach their first - and often only - option.
    Anthony K. Smith is Oregon state director for NFIB