Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce employees

Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce employees

Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce making changes to programs, function and schedule

PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce is changing the way it works.

Teresa Verraes, the chamber’s executive director, said the chamber is “reimagining” its programs, function and schedule.

“Our mission is still to develop a vibrant economy by building diversified businesses that are inspired by innovation and collaboration,” Verraes said.

“We want to engage people and meet them where they are.”

The first step, announced at Monday’s chamber luncheon, will be to decrease the frequency, but aim to increase the quality, of the regular member meetings.

The luncheon meetings have taken place on a weekly basis at the Port Townsend Elks Club, 555 Otto St.

Beginning in May, the chamber will meet twice a month: on the first Monday at the Elks and the third Monday at Fort Worden Commons.

The time remains the same — noon — but the purpose is to offer longer programs in different places, Verraes said.

She said the new move is not a cutback.

“We want to concentrate on richer programs and will be a lot more selective,” she said.

“We want to get a diversity of programs and even get some people from out of the area.”

The decision resulted from a survey of members about what they wanted to see in the chamber.

“We learned that Monday programs are good for some but not so good for others,” she said.

“Some people can come every week, but it’s harder for the mom-and-pop businesses and some of the CEOs.”

What will stop, she said, is the circuit of the same programs presented at different service clubs.

“There are many other venues where you can see those things,” she said.

“We want to get more creative with our programs.”

The chamber has been a regular candidate-forum venue, and that will not change this election year, Verraes said.

It will be done differently, perhaps in a two-hour forum with a schedule, so people can come and go with regard to their interests.

The mixers, held on the second Tuesday of each month, will continue, but programs in the morning and the evening could be added, Verraes said.

The chamber has 468 members. The luncheons have drawn about 10 percent of the membership.

Another area ripe for rebranding, according to Verraes, is the Young Professionals Network, which began in 2012 and was meant to provide a business on-ramp for younger people and companies.

“We are looking at the demographic, and ‘young’ doesn’t really serve anymore,” Verraes said.

“We are looking to help the engaged, involved entrepreneur, which is not in a specific age group.”

Verraes said the redefinition of the Young Professionals Network will probably include a name change.

This spring, the chamber plans to unveil something new every month, the director said, saying the chamber plans to streamline its rules and benefits.

This will all culminate in a big celebration July 12, Verraes said.

“This will be really cool,” she said of the changes.

“I finally have the staff needed to bring new energy to the chamber.”

The Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce changed its meeting schedule last month after surveying membership.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

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