Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce wants opinions from membership on proposed merger
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The Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce board discusses PA United on Wednesday. Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce board voted unanimously Wednesday to seek input from its general membership on a proposed consolidation of the chamber with another group.

The board wants to hear from its 491 members about what steps they want to take in regard to a plan by PA United that would combine the chamber with the Port Angeles Business Association.

Chamber Executive Director Russ Veenema said the board will organize presentations for the chamber’s general membership in the next few weeks and bring comments back to the board at the Aug. 8 board meeting.

According to a draft mission statement developed by PA United, the as-yet-unnamed new business organization would work to “provide leadership with the community, businesses and entrepreneurs to achieve a unified voice in promoting economic growth in the greater Port Angeles area.”

The consolidation plan once involved the Port Angeles Downtown Association, but the association’s board voted 7-1 last month to withdraw from the consolidation effort.

No PADA vote of general membership is likely, downtown association President Bob Lumens said Wednesday.

“At this point, I don’t see a member vote because I think we’ve gotten enough feedback from enough people to sort of bow out from this and continue doing what it is we do,” Lumens said.

“The point is we are hired, if you will, by our members to make a decision in their respect, and we have done that,” Lumens said.

The board has drafted a letter that will be sent to its membership explaining the association’s stance on the consolidation issue, Lumens said.

“It will go out to our membership. [That’s] the only group we owe an explanation to, is our membership,” Lumens said.

Jack Glaubert, president of the Port Angeles Business Association, said the PA United proposal will be brought for discussion to the association’s Aug. 5 general membership meeting, to be held at 7:30 a.m. at Joshua’s Restaurant and Lounge, 113 DelGuzzi Drive.

Glaubert said he could not predict whether a full vote on consolidation would happen at that meeting.

Early on in Wednesday’s chamber meeting, board member Todd Gubler made the motion to have the chamber continue discussions on a possible merger.

He said the chamber, as the largest business group, should act as a leader.

“What we want is the shock wave that will facilitate change,” said Gubler, also the general manager of Lake Crescent Lodge.

Several board members said they want to make sure more information about a proposed budget for a new consolidated group would be available to chamber members.

“I think it would be important a pencil gets pushed to the budget before any kind of presentation gets pushed to the general membership,” said Luke Robins, chamber board member and Peninsula College president.

Veenema said presentations to chamber membership will include possible budgets with various funding scenarios, including the downtown association’s contributions being removed from the equation.

“We are going to form our own committee on the chamber made up of board members and membership at large to review what has been presented so far and to make comments and give feedback to the board as far as to how the chamber should proceed,” he said.

The committee would then report back to the board of directors with input from the general membership, Veenema said, though he could not say whether the board would take a vote at that same meeting to consider consolidation.

“There are still a lot of questions that are unanswered, and they aren’t going to be answered overnight,” he said.


Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 23. 2014 7:37PM
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