Port Angeles business groups to mull continuing merger talks

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES –– Should the Port Angeles Business Association, Port Angeles Downtown Association and Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce continue merger talks?

That's the question that will be asked this month to the boards of directors of the city's three most prominent business organizations.

“It's a decision on their part to go forward with this plan and answer the questions we still have, and then we'll take a vote from their memberships,” Jim Haguewood said.

Haguewood, who has led directors of the three organizations in a series of six meetings as PA United, on Thursday corrected an erroneous report in Wednesday's Peninsula Daily News that said members would be asked to vote on the creation of a new group.

“We're going to show them what we're working on and ask them, 'Are you interested in continuing?'” Haguewood said.

The PDN also erroneously said a state Main Street tax incentive provides reduced business and operating tax rates.

The Main Street business-and-occupations tax program is a voluntary donation by a business on its yearly B&O tax bill to the Port Angeles Main Street program.

Haguewood, a business consultant, was Clallam County Economic Development Council director from 2000-05 and is the former director of the Clallam County Business Incubator.

The sixth and final PA United meeting was in Lincoln Center on Tuesday.

Combine duties

Nine members of the three organizations are considering a plan that would dissolve the chamber and the business association and combine their duties with some of those done by the downtown association into a new, as-yet-unnamed organization.

Requirements attached to the downtown association's state funding may require that some of its duties remain separate from the new organization.

PA United members will present the preliminary plan to the downtown association May 12, to the business association's board of directors May 12 and to its members May 13, and to the chamber May 16.

The proposed PA United plan would pool the duties done by each organization and parcel them out into five task forces that would report to a central committee.

The PA United hope is that one central group will have a greater effect on the city's economy by consolidating the duties of the chamber and the business and downtown associations, Haguewood said.

5-year plan

Goals laid out in PA United's five-year strategic plan include a 2 percent increase in retail sales tax revenue, a $60,000 increase in average building permit value and a 23 percent increase in employment of people age 25 to 44.

The central committee is envisioned as a conduit between the task forces to ensure coordinated effort and oversight, Haguewood said.

The task force areas include downtown development, business and entrepreneurship, organization, government affairs and promotions and marketing.

During Tuesday's discussion, members at the PA United table suggested the central committee contain members from each task force, potentially three from each of the five, for a 15-member board, though they balked at the term “board.”

There would likely need to be paid staff under the central committee.

A budget has not been determined.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 01. 2014 5:33PM
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