By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“An exciting year” was recalled – and another one envisioned – as more than 60 people lunched at Neighborhood House’s High Point Neighborhood Center today for the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce‘s annual meeting.
The excitement included membership growth as well as intensive advocacy on key issues.
Reviewing 2011 accomplishments, Chamber board chair Dave Montoure (proprietor of West 5 in The Junction) detailed advocacy issues included working for passage of the pro-tunnel ballot measure, supporting West Seattle transportation priorities brought to the awareness of the citywide committee known as CTAC-3 – “this group was the only neighborhood to (develop) a list of priorities” and present it to the group – and lobbying the City Council to commit “resources to improve The Triangle.”
The rate of new members joining the Chamber was up more than 150 percent from 2010, and 80 percent of current members renewed during the year. “We have a healthy Chamber and we’re going to continue to grow,” Montoure declared.
A key factor in continued growth is leadership, and while Montoure is continuing as board chair for another year, there is a key vacancy elsewhere at the top: The Chamber is looking for a new CEO, with the departure a month ago of Patti Mullen. Montoure mentioned that there’s a transition team in place and its first meeting is later this week. He expects it to “take a really hard look at organizational needs” and how the group should grow in the years ahead. “We’ll see where it goes.”
The Chamber also sponsored a long list of events, as detailed by Montoure in his opening remarks – besides traditional events such as the annual Awards Breakfast and monthly membership lunches, there were newer features such as “Lunch With LEO (Local Elected Officials)” brown-bags (with guests including Mayor McGinn – WSB coverage here – and Councilmember Sally Bagshaw), plus an event in partnership with the Rainier Valley Chamber of Commerce before the 2011 elections, “Speed Campaigning” with City Council candidates (WSB coverage here).
This year, the Chamber expects to add committees to its current slate (Ambassadors & Young Professionals, Government Affairs, Finance, and Awards Breakfast). For the latter event – they’re taking awardee nominations right now.
During the meeting, those seated at each table got a chance to talk amongst themselves and tackle topics including revenue generation for the Chamber outside of memberships, how to represent business interests to government, events, the leadership transition, and economic development.
When the tables presented their ideas/concerns, they included:
*Junction development by “out-of-state developers”: Maintaining the identity of West Seattle
*Finding new leadership with community connections
*Consider a West Seattle “buy local”/promotion campaign attracting people from other parts of the region
*Chamber doing more fact-finding about how transportation funding is used
*Increasing Chamber representation by larger corporations (even the big-box stores that are in this area)
*Fun fundraising ideas including a chowder cook-off in The Junction or Alki, golf tournament, Battle of the Bands (and to have a beer garden at all of them)
*Other fundraising ideas included setting a fundraising goal, motivational seminar with admission fee, chef/bartender showcase
*More event ideas included topical workshops and member showcasing
*Yet more event ideas included encouraging business decisionmakers to attend more of the networking events
*More fun-event ideas would include an “Amazing Race”-style event with a map pointing to Chamber-member businesses
Also today, Montoure himself was lauded by board treasurer Kirk Mead, general manager of West Seattle’s new Umpqua Bank branch (but long active in the Chamber, since he has worked in the West Seattle finance world for years before taking that position), and received a hearty round of applause.
EVENT ANNOUNCEMENTS INCLUDED: Next “After-Hours” event is 5:30 pm January 19th at Umpqua Bank. … “Local search” is the topic of a Tech Tuesday seminar coming up January 31st, 12:30 pm at The Kenney (WSB sponsor) – this is a new four-event series … Sandy Adams reminded everyone that ArtsWest is about to open its next production “All Through The Night” … Nancy Whitlock from the Nature Consortium noted that (as noted here earlier today) they have MLK Day of Service volunteer events Saturday and Monday … Board member Nancy Woodland mentioned the WestSide Baby Tea coming up next month (here’s the lookahead story we published recently), February 12th … Sue Lindblom of Illusions Hair Design (WSB sponsor) noted that this year’s Have a Heart Day, raising money for Pencil Me In For Kids, is on Valentine’s Day (appointments open now!) … Mead mentioned the Admiral District Business Association‘s formation (firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more) … Watch wschamber.com for other updates.
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