Joining economic development panel gets approval at Tuesday PABA meeting

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Business Association became the final of four groups Tuesday to agree to sit on a 12-person committee that will ponder joining forces for economic development.

PABA joined the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Port Angeles Downtown Association and The CEO Group — an amalgam of city business owners and executives — by voting unanimously to send three members to a meeting that could occur by the end of this month.

The chamber has 450 members, the Downtown Association has 185, PABA 70 and The CEO Group about 30.

Some members and groups belong to more than one organization.

About 30 PABA members attended the regular weekly breakfast meeting Tuesday.

The upcoming ad hoc committee meeting will be open to the public, said Clallam County Economic Development Director and PABA Vice President Tim Smith, who floated the idea of the joint economic development effort.

He had proposed a committee earlier this month, saying it could lead to a possible merger of business organizations.

But whether the result of the meeting will be the dissolution of one or all of the groups in favor of a single umbrella organization remains an open question.

“It's appropriate to let these groups that have been separated for so long to talk among themselves and see if they can come together,” Smith said at the meeting.

“Right now, we are at a crossroads, and it's a serious crossroads.”

In a later interview, Smith said the committee will not be permanent.

Smith envisions the committee of 12 talking together, going back to their respective organizations, then meeting again “to see what the ultimate conclusion is,” he said, adding that it might take more than one go-around.

“I don't want to predetermine what that outcome might be,” Smith said.

“It can be a single organization, or it can be an alliance.

“I can easily see it being like an alliance in the war against Germany and Japan.

“It took an alliance to win the war, and the war is choosing our economic future rather than one that is haphazard or one that we arrive at by mistake.”

Smith said other “Port Angeles-centric” business groups would be welcome to join the other four organizations.

He noted that the committee is being formed as Peninsula College President Luke Robins joins forces with Washington State University Extension Service in planning a countywide economic summit that could include new or changed roles for the myriad economic development groups throughout the county.

Robins said Tuesday in a later interview that a date for the meeting has not been set and that WSU officials have yet to determine the availability of consultants to coordinate the event.

“We don't want to rush it,” Robins said.

“It's important enough that we want to have the agenda pretty clear.”

The chamber board voted Friday to join the group, the PADA board voted Monday, and The CEO Group voted about two months ago.

Those tallies, too, were unanimous.

Mayflower Horticulture Service owner Andrew May made the PABA motion that the group be part of the committee “to represent and serve the common good of all of Port Angeles businesses, industry and commerce.”

Feeley Construction owner Bill Feeley was concerned PABA might “lose its identity.”

“My only concern is that we will get absorbed into one group of people,” he said.

“I would hate to have this group absorbed into a big organization and lose its identity.”

PABA President Jack Glaubert, owner of Sound Surveyors Inc., responded that PABA can remain autonomous if it remains financially independent.

Passing the motion and taking part in the committee “does not obligate us in any way,” May added.

“It's important to send someone to explore this.

“This is going to happen if we are there or not.”

PADA President Bob Lumens said PADA, which manages downtown parking lots, will remain autonomous.

“We will need to continue to exist to do what we need to do,” Lumens said.

Members also discussed reaching beyond Port Angeles to business groups outside the city limit.

“We are going to push forward to get everyone together, and at that point, we're going to make a plan,” Glaubert said.

“If we all agree on a plan to move forward, or plans, then we have a chance of maybe accomplishing something.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 14. 2014 7:33PM
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