Jake Mangas Aims to Build Community
By Laura Christman
Going to Bat
By Laura Christman
Photo: Jeannine Hendrickson
The Redding Chamber of Commerce goes back 106 years. But that doesn’t mean it can’t go forward in new ways.
Enter Jake Mangas. The 35-year-old became president/CEO of the chamber in January. It’s a new role, but Mangas isn’t new to Redding. He was director of development and legacy giving at Northern Valley Catholic Social Service for a decade, and he grew up in Redding.
“I think that gives him a certain appreciation of what this community has to offer,” Shasta Builders Exchange Executive Director Joe Chimenti says of Mangas’ North State roots. “It’s great when somebody like Jake comes back and shows, ‘I’m anchored in this community.’”
“We’ve got a lot of great things going for us,” Mangas says.
The Sacramento River, mountains and other nearby natural treasures are quality-of-life strengths, but Mangas is aware that Redding has challenges, too. The economy strongly tilts toward service and retail and less to manufacturing and high-tech industries. Job skills don’t always line up with job openings.
At Northern Valley Catholic Social Service, which offers programs for mental health, housing and vocational training, he worked with businesses to contribute to efforts for easing suffering. He sees the chamber job as a way “to continue to build the community, but in a different way.”
“I am inspired almost daily by the abundance of talent that exists in our community, the enormous amount of engagement and concern for Redding,” Mangas says.
The Greater Redding Chamber of Commerce is being branded more simply as Redding Chamber of Commerce and has a new slogan: “We champion your business.”
Mangas is building membership, which has been in decline. There are some 800 members, 70 joining this year.
“I refer to members as investors,” Mangas says. “I want us to be seen as a business solutions center. If we can’t directly help them, then we have the resources and partnerships to connect them with organizations that can.”
Creating an online community for local businesses is a priority.
“One of the exciting things for me is redefining the Chamber of Commerce so that it remains relevant to supporting businesses today,” Mangas says.
A new Google Maps project aims to boost businesses’ digital presence so they can be found when potential customers scroll through search results on a computer or smart phone.
Millennials are becoming an important part of the business world, Mangas notes, and that generation approaches work in new ways. Many embrace entrepreneurship.
“I really marvel at their courage and enthusiasm for creating their own companies,” he says. “What can we do as a chamber of commerce that grows that pool of young talent? And what can we do to retain and attract more of that young talent to the community?”
A group within the chamber for members ages 21 to 39 is being developed. Mangas wants to connect the younger people in business with established businesspeople. There are learning opportunities in both directions, he says.
Mangas describes himself as a collaborator and sees working with organizations like Shasta Economic Development Corporation, Shasta Builders Exchange and Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association, as well as city and county officials, as an important part of his job.
“I love his approach to things,” chamber board chair Courtney McElvain says of Mangas. “I like his diplomatic demeanor. He has some really creative ideas.”
Mangas graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication design from Chico State University. He and wife, Janet, who he met in Chico, wanted to be in Redding to raise their family.
“I’ve always felt called to be here,” Mangas says.
The Mangas name has recognition and a favorable reputation in these parts. His father, Mike, is a longtime, likeable news anchor with KRCR television and his mother, Lindy, is a much-loved preschool teacher, who has taught for decades in Redding. Growing up, Mangas remembers people coming up to his mother to talk about being in her class or having a child in her class. They greeted his father as if he were a friend, even though they’d only seen him on television.
“I have had such a wonderful example of humility in both of my parents,” Mangas says.
He and Janet have three children: Joe, 15; Coby, 6; and Siena, 3. Son Michael died in his sleep at 19 months in 2007.
“It was the most difficult thing I ever had to deal with,”
The loss is part of their story. It shifted perspective to the fragility of life and importance of appreciating every moment, Mangas says. He and Janet experienced the strength in community. Prayers of love, offers of help and donations for the funeral came from family, friends – and people in Redding they had never met.
“It makes the community part of you,” Mangas says.