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Atascadero Chamber CEO honored with regional award 

Josh Cross Award Photo

Josh Cross was honored at the Western Association of Chamber Executives (WACE) annual conference in Sacramento last Tuesday.

Josh Cross earns the Russell J. Hammer Award at WACE Conference

– Atascadero Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Josh Cross was honored at the Western Association of Chamber Executives (WACE) annual conference in Sacramento last Tuesday, receiving the Russell J. “Rusty” Hammer Memorial Scholarship Award.

The Rusty Hammer Memorial Scholarship Award is named after Russell J. Hammer, who was named Executive of the Year 2002, served as chairman of the board of association in 2003, as well as CEO for the Sacramento Metro & Los Angeles Area Chambers of Commerce. He died in 2008 after a several-year battle with leukemia. The Rusty Hammer Memorial Scholarship Award was established to recognize a chamber executive who best exemplifies excellence and professionalism and is deemed to have the potential to be a future leader within the chamber industry.

Cross, an Atascadero native, graduated from Atascadero High School in 1996 and then attended Cal Poly. Since graduating, he has focused his work on the Central Coast, first working in San Luis Obispo as an urban developer for RRM Design Group. After 18 years of city planning, Cross worked as the Director of Economic Development for the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce.

After starting at the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 21, 2020, Cross began assisting the business community with the challenges they faced due to the pandemic. Since then, accomplishments include securing over $500,000 in new funding through sponsorships, grants, and forgivable loans; increasing chamber membership from 400 to 662; increasing Leader’s Circle sponsorships by 200%; preparing a DEI Handbook for businesses; and launching a shop local program to stimulate the service and retail industries.

Most recently under Cross’s leadership, the Bridgeworks Coworking expansion was completed. The concept began in 2016 as a response to market demand for additional office spaces to match business startups, entrepreneurs, family-run shops, and people seeking a professional work environment with an office setting with an assortment of amenities.

This month, the Atascadero Chamber launched Jr. CEO, a program providing elementary and junior high students with five virtual workshops focused on entrepreneurial skills. Sessions include business fundamentals, cost models, safety/food preparation, marketing, customer service, and money management. Cross will lead the workshops.


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