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Pacific Bell Ups Commitment to Chamber

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce got a boost last week when it signed up Pacific Bell to its lofty Emerald Plus level of membership.

The action means that Pacific Bell, a subsidiary of SBC Communications Inc. of San Antonio, increases its membership dues in the business organization from $17,000 to $50,000.

Only one other company, Gateway, Inc., contributes dues at that level.

Chamber President Jessie Knight said Pacific Bell decided to raise its commitment based on the revitalizing activities of the chamber over the past year.

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“Through the partnership of a global communications leader like Pacific Bell, San Diego will continue to lead Southern California as the hot spot for technological advancement,” Knight said.

The increased dues will help the chamber sponsor economic development seminars, technology expositions and educational programs, the chamber said.

Pacific Bell has about 6,000 employees in the county, the company said.

Knight also said the chamber received a check from another major local employer, Solar Turbines, Inc., a subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc. Solar did not renew its membership last year, but recently paid annual dues of $20,518, making it a member of the Diamond level.

Knight said he and other chamber officials are continuing efforts to persuade Qualcomm Inc. to return to the chamber’s membership, but so far, without success.

As one of San Diego’s largest employers, Qualcomm should be part of the overall mission of the chamber and all that it is involved in, Knight said.

Qualcomm didn’t renew its membership last year after the chamber decided two years ago to purchase cell phones from Nextel, a competitor.

A Qualcomm spokeswoman confirmed the company did not renew its membership, but did not know the reason.

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