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Chamber represents, promotes and connects local businesses

  • Written by Deborah Stone

Often, the Chamber of Commerce is the first place people seek out when they are new to town or in the process of considering moving to a different city.

They can learn useful data about the community and get connected to the resources they need.

Most chambers print directories of the businesses in their area and provide relocation packages, as well as key visitor information for tourists.

On a local level, the chamber of commerce plays an important role for business owners and those who do business in the community.

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Dave Witt, executive director of the Greater Woodinville Chamber of Commerce
“Our mission is to promote, strengthen and represent a successful business community,” explains Dave Witt, executive director of the Greater Woodinville Chamber of Commerce. “The chamber is the voice of the business community, representing local businesses to the media and to local, state and the federal governments.The chamber promotes local businesses to potential consumers within our region and promotes Woodinville as a destination for consumer and tourist activities to those prospective visitors living elsewhere. We provide our members numerous opportunities to network with other business people and conduct training seminars for professional development.”

The Greater Woodinville Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1962 when a group of local business people, foreseeing expansion to their community, determined a need for such an organization.

Over the years, it has grown in membership, as well as in the role it plays in our area. It was one of the key leaders in support of Woodinville’s incorporation efforts back in 1993 and continues to work towards making the city a good place to live, work and do business within this region.

“We have about 225 members today,” says Suzanne Rollins, office manager for the chamber. “They are not only from Woodinville, but from several surrounding Eastside communities. Basically, if they do business in Woodinville, they can join.”

She explains that membership fees are based on the number of full-time employees in a company and start at $275 a year.

These fees help to finance the chamber, along with the money it raises from its annual auction.

Witt notes that it’s not only businesses that benefit by having an effective chamber of commerce.

He says, “A healthy business community delivers convenient access to goods and services, provides local jobs and keeps our sales tax revenue right here where it can fund the services and infrastructure we need for a great quality of life in Woodinville.”

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Suzanne Rollins, office manager for the Greater Woodinville Chamber of Commerce
The chamber seeks out additional opportunities to be involved in the community by sponsoring various events, such as the All Fool’s Day Parade and the Woodinville Women’s Show.

Also, each year it chooses a charitable organization as the focus for its “Raise the Paddle” at its annual auction.

In 2011, it was the Northshore Wranglers, a special recreation program.

Next year, it will be Homeward Pet and Adoption Center.

Rebecca Clark, general manager of Brittany Park Retirement Community, a longtime member of the chamber, views the organization as a valuable asset to the community.

She says, “It represents businesses here and gives them visibility. We see it as our responsibility as a business to be a member. It’s the right thing to do.”

She adds, “It’s been great getting to know other local business owners and we try and work with them as much as possible for our own business needs. I personally like the speakers the Chamber offers. They’re interesting and often enlightening.”

Kathy Kill, branch manager of Banner Bank echoes Clark’s sentiments.

She says, “We belong because it supports the Woodinville community. It’s a valuable organization and I’ve been able to meet so many great people through it.”

Being able to connect to the community is definitely a benefit that comes with chamber membership, according to Lisa Norrgard of Norrgard’s Optik.

“It’s really boosted our community involvement,” she comments. “And we can find out what’s going on and how we can help support the community, such as becoming sponsors of various events. It’s also a great resource and I’ve been able to build a base of referrals for local businesses that I can use for myself as well as give to others.”

Jens Molbak of Molbak’s Garden & Home Store, another longtime chamber member, feels that the organization does a good job of welcoming new businesses to the city.

He comments, “They’re really good at telling Woodinville’s story to prospective businesses. Our community is unique, with the wine industry and tourism piece, and the chamber knows how to present all that we have to offer new businesses. We’d love to see more businesses come here so that Woodinville can continue to become a vital place for people to work and shop in.”

Molbak also points out that the chamber excels in its role as a unifier in representing the business community as a whole.

He makes a note of singling out Executive Director Dave Witt, adding, “Dave is the strongest director we’ve had in the years I’ve been involved and we’re very lucky to have him. He is the face of the Chamber and he does a great job.”

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