PORT ANGELES — Participants at the Clallam County Economic Development Corp.’s 2017 annual dinner were reminded of a key to success by a man who has scaled its heights.
“We need to work together, and we need to collaborate,” longtime Jamestown S’Klallam CEO and tribal Chairman Ron Allen told the gathering of 85 to 90 at the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles on Friday night.
“The issue is, how do we move our agenda forward?” Allen asked banquet participants, who also learned that the EDC expects to have a new executive director on board by early spring.
Entrepreneurs and individuals also were honored for outstanding business practices and community service.
Allen, tribal CEO since 1982 and tribal chair since 1977, said the business sector’s agenda for attracting new residents, including entrepreneurs, should emphasize fulfillment of the educational, health, public safety and infrastructure needs of the community.
Those needs include transportation, given the one-way-in, one-way-out of the North Olympic Peninsula on U.S. Highway 101, and utilities such as water.
Allen suggested that may require construction of a Sequim-area reservoir to guarantee community access to the vital resource.
“From our perspective, we need to think in a cohesive, collective vision,” he said.
Allen said Saturday the tribe is in discussions with Clallam County and Sequim officials on a reservoir being built on the south end of Riverside Road.
Allen, born in Port Angeles, is a class of 1966 Port Angeles High School graduate, and he and his wife, Merine, plan to move this summer from Blyn to Sequim.
While the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe has 600 tribal citizens, 300 of whom live in Clallam County, Allen’s activities stretch far and wide.
Allen has been a board officer of the National Congress of American Indians and been board president; serves on advisory councils of the federal departments of Interior, Treasury and Justice; and is one of two Native Americans on the eight-member U.S.-Canada Pacific Salmon Commission.
“Living in that fast lane with no off ramp doesn’t bother me,” he said Saturday.
His animated, fast-paced presentation highlighted an evening also marked by interim EDC Executive Director Doug Sellon’s announcement that the naming of a permanent leader for the private nonprofit organization is on the horizon.
Sellon said he expects the EDC board to name by the end of March a new permanent director to succeed Bill Greenwood.
Greenwood resigned Dec. 31 after two years at the helm, following what was reported to be a mutual accord he reached with the board, after setting the EDC on an upward course.
The EDC was praised in July by the state Department of Commerce for far exceeding business retention and expansion goals that included concentrating on meeting with and assisting existing businesses.
Greenwood was not present at the dinner but was thanked to hearty applause from the audience.
Sellon said EDC membership proceeds have grown to account for 30 percent to 34 percent of expenditures — as the EDC weans itself from being publicly funded — with the goal that memberships expand to 60 percent of expenses, an effort that will be shouldered by the new executive director.
Sellon said director candidate interviews begin Tuesday.
“All sorts of people think they are qualified to be the executive director of an economic development corporation,” Sellon quipped.
The new director will earn between $75,000 and $100,000 to promote new and existing businesses.
Sellon praised Allen for an inspiring presentation.
“From our perspective, we need to think in a cohesive, collective vision,” Sellon said.
Allen gave insight into the Jamestown S’Klallam business model, noting the tribe has diversified into health and construction services.
The tribe, he said, has adjusted to the times, including in the operation of its 7 Cedars Casino, which could be complemented by a $30 million, 100-room resort, expected to be built in 2018.
“We see ourselves as a microcosm of what the greater community is on diversity,” Allen said.
“Our health clinic is a business, and quite successful in terms of what it does,” Allen said, noting that construction and excavating ventures are part of the mix as well as shellfish farming, which is expanding.
“Every time we turn around, we are expanding our business portfolio so we are not leaning on one part or the other,” he added.
For example, the Las Vegas gaming industry, driven 10 years ago by gambling, has adopted a broader hospitality-industry focus on entertainment and catering to families and conferences, said Allen, president of the Washington Indian Gaming Commission.
“Where we are going as a community needs to be more in sync with that,” he said.
That means investing in providing good schools and health care services that young professionals are concerned about when they weigh taking jobs on the North Olympic Peninsula versus working in urban centers such as Everett and Tacoma — the same factors that entrepreneurs consider when they decide where to set up shop.
Awards of Excellence for 2016 were presented to Angeles Furniture, Olympic Game Farm, Black Ball Ferry Line, 1st Security Bank, Crestwood Convalescent Center, Sequim Health and Rehabilitation and the Composite Recycling Technology Center.
Olympic Leader Awards for 2016 were presented to Price Ford Lincoln and Lincoln Industrial Corp.
Karen Goschen, Port of Port Angeles executive director, was presented with the 2016 Public Sector Individual of the Year Award by Nathan West, Port Angeles community and economic development director.
Goschen echoed Allen’s theme.
“We don’t do it alone,” she said.
“We do it as a team.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.