Port Angeles chamber, business association to discuss proposed unification at meeting today

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The boards of two Port Angeles business groups will talk about possible consolidation today.

PA United will present merger recommendations to the boards of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Port Angeles Business Association in a joint meeting scheduled from 6:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Port Angeles CrabHouse Restaurant, with a social hour beginning at 5:30 p.m.

A draft slide for tonight's presentation listed the consolidated group as being named the Port Angeles Chamber & Business Alliance.

That name was simply a placeholder, said Jim Haguewood, a Port Angeles business consultant who has spearheaded the merger talks.

“We're sort of saying this could be the legal name,” he said.

“We haven't got what we would call an operating name.”

The boards of the Port Angeles chamber and business association have voted to continue considering consolidation efforts, while the board of the Port Angeles Downtown Association, which originally considered the idea, voted 7-1 last month to withdraw from the drive toward a merger.

“We have made our decision [by the board of directors last month] at this point in time, and it's not to continue,” downtown association President Bob Lumens said Wednesday.

The general membership of the downtown association had been expected to vote by today on merging with the two other business groups or continuing to go it alone, but nothing had been done as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

“It's not out yet,” said Lumens, who owns Northwest Fudge & Confections on First Street.

The downtown association consists of about 170 business owners in the city's Parking and Business Improvement Area, a special tax assessment district.

The goal of PA United is to create a single organization that would streamline economic development efforts to more effectively spur business development.

PA United's members consists of representatives of the chamber, business association and downtown association.

Under consolidation, members of the as-yet-unnamed organization would participate in five task forces: entrepreneurship, downtown-main street, promotions and marketing, operations and business development, and government affairs.

Nine PA United representatives met in three-hour meeting at Joshua's Restaurant on Tuesday to prepare for tonight's presentation.

Haguewood said tonight's meeting is the “next milestone in the PA United effort.”

One of the objectives is to present recommendations on items that were identified as incomplete in a joint board meeting in May.

“Basically, they were questions,” said Haguewood, who is the former Clallam County Economic Development Council executive director.

Topics for tonight's joint meeting of the chamber and business association include proposed objectives for the consolidated group, task force organization and structure, recommendations on how to improve, a question-and-answer period and a review of next steps.

“We fine-tuned all of those topics and prepared the presentation,” Haguewood said of Tuesday's sit-down.

“We've been at this for six months, and people are still at the table, still motivated and believe in what the recommendations are,” he added.

“That's pretty exciting.”

PA United will effectively dissolve “unless the two boards tomorrow say, 'We want you to continue the work,'” Haguewood said Wednesday.

The Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce has 491 members. The business association has about 70 members.

Members of the downtown association are expected to attend tonight's meeting.

Lumens said the board of the downtown association examined the proposed merger in good faith and determined that consolidation was not in its best interest.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 09. 2014 11:28PM
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