Whole Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce may vote on whether to merge under PA United plan

PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce members might expect to vote within 60 days on consolidating with the Port Angeles Business Association, chamber President Todd Ortloff said Monday.

The chamber board of directors received an update Friday on the PA United proposal.

The plan is being reviewed by a subcommittee that met for the first time earlier last week as it prepares information to distribute to chamber members.

“They will be getting together, hopefully weekly, to go over the whole proposal and formulate an outreach to the rest of the membership,” Ortloff said.

The committee also will present information to the chamber board, which is expected to vote on the proposal within the next four weeks, with a vote of the chamber’s 491 members in mid-October.

“If it goes back to the members for a final vote, it could happen relatively quickly after the board decides what to do,” Ortloff said.

“We want to keep this moving along and at least analyze more effective ways to do things and see where it ends up.

“If nothing else, PA United gave us a chance to look at a bigger-picture view of how business groups could operate in town,” Ortloff continued.

“We’re done with the PA United part as far as formulation of a proposal.

“The next phase is to say to the groups, you have to decide what you are going to do with it.”

The subcommittee members are Jim Moran of The 401K Co., Inc.; Sarah Creachbaum, Olympic National Park superintendent; event consultant Scott Nagel; Kathy Charlton of Olympic Cellars Winery; and John Brewer, publisher of Peninsula Daily News.

The Port Angeles Business Association (PABA) also has formed its own outreach committee in anticipation of an expected merger vote, organization Vice President Tim Smith said Monday.

The committee is comprised of Smith, investment analyst George Bergner and Ed Bedford of BRP enterprises.

At its regular meeting Aug. 5, PABA members discussed consolidation efforts. Discussion included the Port Angeles Downtown Association board of directors withdrawing the downtown association from those efforts in June.

“The consensus was there’s still a spot at the table for downtown businesses if downtown businesses want to take part as individuals or business people,” Smith said.

“[PA United] is about uniting the entire business community, and we don’t want to overlook the downtown business community.”

The withdrawal of the downtown association gives the new, as-yet unnamed merged group less opportunity for funding, Ortloff said.

The downtown association received $20,000 this year in city-administered B & O, or business and occupation, taxes from the city’s electric utility for the Main Street Program downtown improvements.

A preliminary budget foresees expenditures for the merged group ranging from $335,291 in 2015 to $467,491 in 2019.

“Obviously, we’d be a lot stronger with three [groups],” Ortloff said.

“We would just become a lot more dependent on members and dues and that sort of thing.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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