Small businesses in Hesperia have taken a beating over the past year or so. The venerable H&E Home Center closed its doors. Soon after, however, the national OSH chain reopened the store. And if you wanted to grab a quick bite at Broadway Cafe in the Stater Bros. center on Main and Ninth you'd find their doors closed. Those are just two of many examples that it's tough going as a deep recession wages on.


But there is hopeful news. Some Hesperia entrepreneurs seem to be doing well. Shelly Sullivan, the longtime restaurateur who not long ago opened Bodacious Bundts in the High Desert Primary Care Center, comes to mind. And the Kid's Magical Planet opening has created quite a buzz.


Last Thursday evening, the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce hosted its first "Town Hall Meeting for Businesses." The free event was designed to help jump-start a dialogue between business owners, community stakeholders and the chamber.


"We're not here to whine," said Chamber President/CEO Yvonne Woytovich. "We're here to talk to you and find out what you need. We're here to work together."


Facilitator Debbie Cannon, vice-president of the High Desert Resource Center, divided the attendees into several groups. While seated at the tables, the participants generated numerous ideas for improving the business climate. As Cannon prodded, additional ideas flowed. Most importantly, they helped to identify needs and problems, and that could lead to solutions.


Although lightly attended, the event attracted business owners from Hesperia, Apple Valley and Victorville. Realtor Becky Otwell and City Councilwoman Rita Vogler, who owns Wonderland Travel, also participated. Their attendance demonstrated that even the most successful civic and business leaders in Hesperia are feeling the pinch - and helping to find a way out of this situation.


During the early years of this decade, the Hesperia Chamber served as a network for business people to network and enjoy the bounty of their success. Now that times are especially tough, the organization is doing what it can to help its members, and non-members, come together and learn how to help one another. That's good for you and me because it's simply good business.