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Chamber using move to promote downtown
Cornerstone Co-op leasing out last office space
Ceres Chamber of Commerce President Renee Ledbetter (left) and Chamber secretary Dovie Wilson are excited about the new move to the corner of Fourth and North streets. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

The Ceres Chamber of Commerce moved just several doors up Fourth Street to a new building - dubbed the Cornerstone Co-op - and brimming with new ideas to stimulate interest in downtown Ceres.

The Chamber had been renting a claustrophobic 12-foot by 12-foot space in the middle of the block of Fourth Street for $150 per month. So when the Ceres Partnership vacated the building at the southeast corner of Fourth and North streets, Chamber President Renee Ledbetter struck upon the idea of moving into it and renting out the extra space. So far rooms have been snatched up by marriage and family therapist Anna Alvarez and Brandy Meyer of Meyer CPR & First Aid with an additional room available. Ledbetter hopes to find someone to rent the 10-foot by 11-foot room for $350 plus utilities so the Chamber may further reduce its overhead in the monthly rent of $1,800. The cost of utilities is shared by the businesses.

Renters like Meyer and Alvarez also get use of a conference room, which will be shared by the Chamber.

Meyer said she's glad she moved, saying "it's closer to the freeway, more exposure. This is better for me and my customers because over there (on Mitchell Road) they couldn't find us."

Her company teaches CPR and first aid techniques and is sponsored by the American Safety & Health Institute.

Renters have access to the front and back door while each individual office space is keyed separately.

The Chamber has introduced a wine bar to the reception area in the front of the office in the hopes of interesting local vintners to feature their wines in leased out space. The idea was borrowed from the Lodi Visitor's Bureau.

"What we thought was kind of put a spin on it and rent it out on a weekly basis to local vintners so they can bring their wines in, do their wine tasting, rent it for a weekend and then be gone," said Ledbetter. "It would attract new activity to downtown."

Besides the local Bronco Winery, she said she will be inviting wineries in Lodi, Murphys and all around the Valley "so that they can introduce our community to their wines."

The Chamber has decorated the office in an Americana theme, using products made from Addy's Boutique around the corner.

The building is owned by the Bilson family who built it in the 1960s for a sporting goods store. For many years it was the home of Lone Tree Printing, a mortgage office and lastly occupied for years by the Ceres Partnership-Center for Human Services.

Ledbetter, who is also a real estate agent in Ceres, is doing what she can to promote uses in downtown.

"I have been trying to get people to see the vision of what we could be downtown and that's the whole reason for doing this. People need to start thinking outside the box."

Anyone interested in the office space may contact Ledbetter at 537-2601.