By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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Representatives from the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, Port Angeles Business Association and Port Angeles Downtown Association met for two hours Wednesday afternoon with Jim Haguewood.
Haguewood, former executive director of the Clallam County Economic Development Council and now a business and economic development consultant, is donating his time to facilitating these exploratory meetings.
The group decided to further examine “strategic areas” that encompass four topics — promotion and marketing, education and workforce, quality of place and organization.
Under the informal moniker of PA United, group members scheduled March 12 for another get-together at a site to be determined, and they have yet to schedule a final meeting.
“The final question to the group is going to be, 'OK, we've done this work, we've got this strategy,'” Haguewood said.
“The goals are, how are we going to organize ourselves to get that done? The group could decide that certain organizations take certain assignments, or they are going to say maybe we need to figure out how to work stronger together than we are apart.
“The other question will be, as the strategy gets developed, what are the additional functions and activities that the community needs to be able to achieve those goals?”
A chart distributed by Haguewood showed the chamber with 12 “business organization functions” including visitor center operation, tourism marketing and operating a community website, areas the group coordinates by itself.
The PA chamber shares community marketing with the downtown association.
The downtown association had 10 functions, including holding the business and occupation tax-related Main Street Tax Credit Program, the Main Street Program, a youth volunteer initiative and direct business support as singular functions and sharing event coordination and development with the chamber.
The business association had four organizational functions, holding entrepreneurship by itself, sharing community and business education and advocacy with the chamber, and sharing business networking events with the other two groups.
“There is a duplication of effort that is causing groups to be non-efficient or not as efficient as they can be,” PA chamber Executive Director Russ Veenema said.
For purposes of economic development, Veenema said, the community needs “to be honest about our product.”
He recalled a potential investor in the area believing the workforce he needed was available.
It wasn't, and the entrepreneur abandoned his plans.
“It's very important that we be honest about our workforce and what we can offer as a community,” Veenema said.
Tourism is “icing on the cake,” PA chamber alternate Todd Gubler added.
Gubler is the general manager of Lake Crescent Lodge. A thriving area has businesses that are visited and offer employment year-round, he said.
BRP Enterprises owner Ed Bedford, a PABA alternate at the meetings, said the group needs to identify community strengths and weaknesses to focus efforts on eliminating those weaknesses.
Sense of urgency
A 1½-page “sense of urgency” draft statement circulated to the group contained a partial list of needs that included economic development through employer growth and small-business support.
It also included formation of blue-ribbon citizen advisory committees for long-range planning and establishment of an education task force that would work with Peninsula College on critical job-training skills for existing employers and new businesses.
The statement was drafted by Bedford, Todd Ortloff, KONP radio station general manager and PA chamber president, and retired Wall Street investment analyst and board member George Bergner.
Also representing the PA chamber was Steve Burke, William Shore Memorial Pool executive director and a chamber board member.
From the downtown association were Northwest Fudge and Confection owner and association President Bob Lumens; Smugglers Landing owner and downtown association Vice President Rick Mathis; Executive Director Barb Frederick; and Black Ball Ferry Line Marketing Director Ryan Malane, who participated by phone.
PABA also was represented by State Farm Insurance owner and board member Ray Gruver and PABA Vice President Tim Smith, who recently resigned as Clallam EDC executive director.
Smith organized the initial PA United effort with Haguewood.
Also participating were Larry Hueth, First Federal's vice president and CEO, who is a member of the informally organized CEO Group, and Jacob Oppelt, owner of Next Door Gastropub.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.