Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  While the CalCom ship of state may never experience calm seas, we are sailing right along, despite frequent adversities and ongoing challenges.

We believe by all accounts we had a very successful Fall Conference and look forward to another exciting Tech Expo right around the corner—in February.  The combination of Spring and Fall events may prove a very winning strategy, many believe.

Much happened this past week with four major meetings [Small Company, Public Policy, Marketing and Board of Directors] in our new CalCom quarters. Please note the change of address [now in right rear corner of the same complex]. The space is newer and fresh, very well appointed, plenty of room for meetings & training, and $1,000/mo. less expensive—another winning combination.

Several fresh ideas surfaced in our ongoing efforts to improve the value of CalCom for its members. First and foremost the “working” vision and mission statement will be:

CalCom fosters learning and industry excellence by working with service providers, manufacturers, and vendors to accelerate broadband deployment and adoption with the goal of empowering every person in California with affordable broadband services.

It seemed wise to adopt an all-purpose approach while we continue to focus on operational improvements and potentially structural changes in growing our membership.

Possibly the best new idea was to submit a major planning grant for broadband adoption.  This would position CalCom in a central leadership role of the key focus of the broadband discussion—which is clearly more on adoption, and less on deployment.

Other stimulating ideas included adding a Sac State intern for marketing, and also manning a booth at major telecom events [out of box!] to enhance our outreach and visibility.  All of these effectively address the “relevance” issue still coming to our collective attention.  Since we believe CalCom is very important, that belief must be more openly demonstrated.

Despite a very rocky start, 2012 ends with a strong series of accomplishments and a much clearer blueprint for the future.  Recent progress includes:

  • Hired a new Executive Director
  • Re-vamped CalCom salary structure
  • Adopted a 2013 budget, balanced and on time
  • Restored fiscal constraints
  • Moved to nicer, less expensive and more functional quarters
  • Advanced our vision with new marketing direction and focus
  • Opened up dialogues in many new ways
  • Added five new associate members this past year
  • Had a banner year legislatively with passage of SB 379
  • Appropriately addressed replacing our retiring CalCom lobbyist
  • Successfully cancelled one Conference and quickly & effectively re-scheduled
  • Put on several major events and showed a “profit” for each event
  • Made a specific investment in future change in new 2013 budget
  • Installed a new Chairman of the Board
  • We have survived…  All speaks volumes of who we are in the face of adversity.

While sufficient challenges lie ahead, we have stabilized the CalCom ship to effectuate decent steering in the continuing rough waters of telecom.

The Fall Conference feedback results were generally 90% positive with recognition of the value of CalCom for the collective group benefit.  Many at the conference indicated in their anonymous survey cards willingness to volunteer to help CalCom grow or even to increase present levels of participation.  We welcome additional help and support.  If you indicated a willingness to volunteer, please speak up!

One of the major shifts this past year has been Board recognition of more overt interaction with other committees and the membership as a whole.  Improvements include closer planning with Suppliers representatives, many of whom are very active with the new Marketing Committee efforts to revamp CalCom going forward.  Two committees were effectively merged into one, email lists for distribution of various forms of communication have been expanded and our Executive Director has been charged with great Advocacy for CalCom both within and without.  This is no longer a top down only organization!  We want you to hear from us more often, but we also want to hear more from you!

Our 2013 budget estimates growing our cash balance from approx. $120,000 to $170,000+ while adding a new $15,000 marketing budget [agreed this would likely only be a decent down payment!] and making only conservative “margin” projections for the Tech Expo and Fall Conferences.  This will facilitate a cash reserve of at least a nine month value of projected “fixed” expenses.  Both member and associate member dues will remain unchanged.  Copies of the budget are available upon request.