Now more than ever, small business owners will tell you they have to make every penny count. One business in Downtown Visalia is hoping to boost the local economy by providing free networking opportunities for businesses.
Sandra Gomez owns "Bolero's" restaurant in Downtown Visalia. A former member of both the Visalia and Tulare Kings Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, Gomez decided she would start her own business networking organization.
Gomez said, "By August 3rd, it was our first meeting, we had almost 100 people."
Gomez started the organization "BMC Business Mixers" and in the last month it's gained more than 65 business members. The draw, joining is free and there are no membership dues.
"That is our main focus, on how to help each other network and this economy is so tough no one can pay dues right now," said Gomez. "It's hard to utilize the money that's coming into your business wisely."
Gabe Cano said, "No fees. It's not going to cost anything and a lot of owners have jumped on to that concept."
The Visalia Chamber of Commerce says it continues to get new members ever year, but overall their membership numbers aren't as high as they were when the economy was good.
Still, a chamber of commerce membership is something small business owner Eddie Reveles can't afford. Reveles owns Revel Graphic Design in Downtown Visalia and decided to join the BMC Business Mixer group. He has already added some new clients.
Reveles said, "To build up some relationships and it's much more cost effective than doing other types of advertising."
Valley Voice Newspaper has also generated new business out of joining the group.
George Lurie said, "Drew a really nice crowd and we just from that first mixer generated a significant amount of business, actually, from networking with people there."
BMC is holding a large business mixer in October... it's free for businesses they just have to bring a table. BMC is working to become a nonprofit so can offer college scholarships for students.