Port Angeles Business Association votes to continue PA United exploration

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Business Association membership voted unanimously Tuesday to continue exploring the possibility of consolidating economic development efforts with two other prominent business groups under the PA United initiative.

PA United participants gave an update to the business association at the group’s weekly breakfast meeting.

They pledged to have budget and other information on a possible consolidation by June 30 so members and boards of directors of the groups can vote on a direction.

The Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is expected to vote Friday on continuing the exploration at a noon meeting at Lake Crescent Lodge.

“I think our board will be pretty much behind it,” chamber President Todd Ortloff said in a later interview.

“I would be surprised if they are not supportive of moving on to the next step.”

The board of directors of the third business group, the Port Angeles Downtown Association, was to vote Monday but lacked a quorum.

Downtown association President Bob Lumens said he expects the board to vote by next week.

Business association member Cherie Kidd abstained from voting Tuesday because she is a City Council member and the City Council gives lodging tax money to the chamber, she said.

Before the vote of about three dozen meeting participants, Ortloff, Lumens and Ray Gruver of the business association gave a half-hour outline of PA United’s activities over the past three months.

A proposal was developed and presented at the group’s sixth meeting April 29.

Members will gather weekly until about June 30 in public meetings to put together more specific information on how a consolidated group could be set up and possibly come up with a potential budget, Ortloff said.

Meetings are facilitated by Jim Haguewood, a business consultant and former Clallam County Economic Development director.

Meetings will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays in the Smugglers Landing restaurant banquet room, 115 E. Railroad Ave.

The trio of speakers Tuesday discussed goals for 2020 that included higher employment and greater business growth.

They also displayed an organizational chart with a 15-person leadership group.

“This structure relies on membership,” business association member Laurel Black said.

“Individuals must be responsible for making it work.”

The leadership group was composed of three people each from five smaller task-force groups: downtown-main street, promotions and marketing, government affairs, operations and business development, and entrepreneurship.

“Now, we have a muddled business community voice,” Ortloff told participants.

“This will give us a single-focus voice that will represent a huge chunk of Clallam County.”

A consistent theme at PA United meetings has been that business development efforts are duplicated and money spent unnecessarily on staffing and facilities when three groups act separately to foster business growth.

The downtown association, which manages parking in the city’s core, is constrained from consolidating because of its involvement with the Main Street program.

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

The downtown association receives that funding from individual businesses that would otherwise go to the state of Washington.

The group funds individual projects with those funds, such as replacing the lighting at the downtown fountain.

But the group still could participate with the other two groups in the new organization, said Lumens, who said three groups acting as one would provide more “leverage” to drive business growth.

“I have made a huge leap in this process,” Lumens said.

“I understand what we talked about and where we are going and how much better it can be.”

Gruver implored the group he represented, the business association, on PA United to continue to “engage” in the process and be patient in waiting for further information.

Business association member Bob Forsberg said he would like to see a preliminary budget.

“That’s a huge question everyone is asking,” Gruver responded.

Business association member Ed Bedford praised the presentation.

“This is laid out very well with a lot of thought and a lot of consideration for all the groups,” he said.

As far as devising a budget, “we’re not there yet,” Bedford said.

“The budget issue is going to be taken care of, but it’s not going to be taken care of today.”

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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: May 13. 2014 6:57PM
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