At Work and Play
by Kirby LindsayWhile many community organizations vacation over the summer or, at least, in August, Fremont’s organizations continue to meet - and often accomplish more at this time due to a significant decrease in distractions.
Not true for the Fremont Chamber of Commerce (FCC) this particular August. While the Chamber’s primary focus shifts to making a success out of the upcoming Fremont Oktoberfest – held September 24, 25 & 26th – the producers did not give a report. Instead, the assembled Board Members agreed that volunteers are required to be sure the festival raises funds for the Chamber – and the Board agreed to encourage their friends (and friends of friends) to join the effort.
Beyond this, the very short meeting also included a standard set of updates on projects, the fairly typical FCC exuberance, and its characteristic casualness towards decision-making, that could make those of an officious nature weep.
Meetings Past And Future
The Fremont Chamber Executive Director, Jessica Vets, gave a report on the extremely successful August general meeting. The Chamber hosted their annual, rather unorthodox meeting – and saw the largest turnout ever at Ducks, Dogs and Suds. The evening featured beer by Fremont Brewing Company, hot dogs by Dante’s Inferno Dogs (with company owners on-hand, distributing their products) and a tour of the ‘hood by Ride The Ducks. As Board Member Pat Carr paraphrased a friend, ‘This is the most fun Chamber event in the City!’
For September, the general meeting topic would return to traditional topics, with a panel discussion on marketing techniques directed at small business owners and new entrepreneurs. This will be what Vets described as an ‘Economic Stimulus’ meeting, held at OmCulture on September 15th from 5p – 7p. For struggling business owners, a food donation (to the FamilyWorks food bank) would be accepted in place of the meeting fee. Also, the meeting will have a wine tasting and tables to display information on local agencies/organizations.
A Hotel for Fremont, Revisited
Brian Regan, Land Use Committee Chair, then gave information on his potential plan for his property at 3417 Evanston Avenue North (presented previously to the Fremont Neighborhood Council.) Regan admitted the concept remains very preliminary, for a site already permitted for construction of a five-story office building, with ground floor retail/restaurant. The hotel plan would include two levels of underground parking, some retail, a plaza and conference rooms accessible for community use, and “what would be really fun is a little theater,” Regan admitted, “to run second-run movies in there.”
Current zoning (the property adjoins the industrial zone) may present a problem, as Regan understands he would be required to market the hotel to industrial users – a requirement that could discourage potential investors. He would prefer to get a contract rezone – to NC3 – for this project only. He also offered to do sound tests, to establish the current noise levels that would potentially impact hotel guests – although one Board Member pointed out that noise levels could change in an industrial zone.
Buy Local, Get Discounts?
Discussion moved onto the ‘Buy Local’ campaign launched by the Chamber, and Vets, and two vaguely different ‘Buy Local’ posters that will be posted in locally-owned shops. One simply states ‘Buy Local.’ The other also includes the line, ‘get discounts.’ The difference, Vets explained, reflects a compromise since most businesses want to promote local ties, yet not all felt capable of offering a discount. Shops/restaurants with the ‘get discounts’ poster will offer discounts (amounts vary) to customers who show a same-day receipt from a purchase at another Fremont restaurant/shop.
After the meeting wrapped up, early, it usually drifts into friendly chit-chat. During casual conversation this time, Regan recalled some business he’d gleaned at the last Fremont Neighborhood Council meeting. A rumor in circulation says that the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON), as a cost-cutting measure, will close their 13 Neighborhood Service Centers. Among the remaining quorum of board members, the FCC approved, unanimously, a motion to write a letter in support of the Fremont Service Center (908 N 34th), and a request that the DON look for other ways to trim their budget.
To learn more about the work, and play, of the Fremont Chamber, attend a monthly Board meeting – held every last Wednesday of the month at 8 a.m. at History House (790 N. 34th St).
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.