by Kirby Lindsay, posted 3 September 2014
The Fremont Chamber of Commerce Board Meeting at 8a on August 27th got great attendance, just as the organization prepared for its biggest fundraiser of the year. Fremont Oktoberfest, on September 19th, 20th & 21st, funds Chamber operations and projects.
Yet Board President Phil Megenhardt started the meeting by reading the mission of the Chamber – it strengthens and improves business and quality of life in Fremont – and he pointed out, “that’s why we are all here so early in the morning.”
Yes for Buses?
Angela Doerr, Campaign Manager for Yes For Buses!, spoke on the need for Seattle voters to approve Transportation Proposition #1 on the ballot this November. “Seattle loves transit,” she said, and this proposition could prevent serious cuts to METRO transit service, and possibly even expand service inside the city. To do that, it would place an additional $60 fee on the licensing of cars in Seattle, and increase the sales tax (at 9.50%) by .1%.
Last April, in a special election, voters county-wide rejected these same tax proposals. Doerr pointed out that a majority of Seattle voters actually approved that measure.
The Board held a strongly divided, and brief, discussion on this. Objections were raised to the increase in taxes, to Seattle financing county transit, and to the management of transit. The discussion did not reach any conclusion, but Doerr did leave handouts for later review.
A Guide For Fremont
Over the rest of the meeting, the Chamber Board touched on a few dozen other issues/agenda items. Some highlights include:
Oktoberfest Planning – Megenhardt, in addition to serving as Chamber Pres, works as Creative Director for Bold Hat Productions which organizes Oktoberfest on behalf of the Chamber. He brought posters, and the 5K Run brochure, for distribution – along with handouts promoting the benefits (beer, plus) of volunteering. Oktoberfest operations require nearly 1,000 volunteers to make it a success, and volunteer sign-ups remain open. Megenhardt also mentioned that ticket sales (among those who pay to enter rather than getting free entry as a volunteer) are up 23%.
Walking Guide – Chamber Executive Director Jessica Vets announced that planning has begun for the 2015 edition of The Walking Guide To Fremont. Registration for this popular brochure takes place October 10th – 31st. The price for a business listing will increase again this year. Last year the Guide had the highest number of listings ever – 135. Cougar Mountain Productions has been contracted, again, to produce this for the Chamber. Vets mentioned how other Chambers always beg to know how they can get a promotional piece as effective as this one is for their community.
Meanwhile, Knotis has once again released an edition of their ‘Interactive Fremont Map,’ available at several business around the Center of the Universe. According to Vets, Knotis returned because their customers kept asking for a Fremont map, but she asked that they not undermine or purposely confuse their piece with the Guide.
Membership Practices- In addition to a discussion of new members (like Nearby Registry – a gift registry service used for small retailers,) and businesses that have lapsed memberships, the Board talked about creating a distinction between member and non-member businesses. Several Board Members voiced displeasure with business organizations run on a ‘member only’ model (the Fremont Chamber has never done this,) and one Board Member (Susan Fuller) admitted she joined the FCC after attending many meetings/events as a non-member, after she saw what the organization had to offer. The Board discussed ways to convert non-members into members (over 30% of attendees at Chamber events are non-members,) and showcasing the benefits of joining, including doing a specific introduction of members, or non-members, at future Chamber functions.
Community Relations Revisited – Another meeting between Chamber representatives and members of the Fremont Arts Council (FAC) was scheduled. In early June, the Chamber reportedly received a letter from the FAC about the Fremont Fair concert series, organizing Fremont events, and the financial support necessary to operate the Solstice Parade. The Chamber has never officially commented on the letter. The Board discussed whether they need to take an official position. (At the last FAC general meeting, FAC members suggested that the letter may not have been an official FAC document.) FCC Board Member Marko Tubic suggested that the Chamber may not need to take a position on the letter at the upcoming meeting, but the Board agreed that all Board Members should be given the opportunity to see the letter and know what it says. The Board also agreed, again, that the Chamber will give fundraising support to the FAC for its Solstice Parade.
Foodies Unite…In Fremont? – Ryan Reiter-Hegeman gave a brief run down on events he helps produce in Fremont. The Fremont Sunday Market consistently has 176 regular vendors that have drawn roughly 5,000 – 8,000 people to see and shop in Fremont each Sunday this summer. The Fremont Outdoor Movies had a big season in 2014, with lots of sponsors that kept the films rolling. The Food Truck Rodeo may return to Fremont in 2015, but only for one day (in early May.)
Now, Reiter-Hegeman is considering moving the Seattle Street Food Festival to Fremont from Capitol Hill, perhaps in a swap with the Food Rodeo. The Food Festival, he explained, is a ‘foodie-event’ involving local restaurants, chefs and a wider showcase of all things food, including venues. This two-day event, held in August, could be a fundraiser for Fremont Chamber programs. Reiter-Hegeman is in talks with local venues, and other organizers, about the details of bringing this to Fremont.
A Bevy Of Others…
The Fremont Chamber Board went on to discuss a bevy of other topics, including holiday planning, making Fremont awesome, the Fremont Bridge painting, and more taxing initiatives planned for the November election ballot. The list goes on and on, but the meeting didn’t.
If you want to know more about the work of the Fremont Chamber, consider attending the next meeting (they are always open-to-the-public,) at the bright hour of 8a at History House on Wednesday, September 24th. The meetings rarely go more than an hour and a half, and usually involve juice and scones (donated once again by PCC Natural Markets,) so, if you are up already, come on in and see…
- FCC Highlight Reel: Membership Woes
- by Kirby Lindsay, August 4, 2014
- FAC Highlight Reel: Getting The House In Order?
- by Kirby Lindsay, August 18, 2014
- FNC Highlight Reel: Forms Of Transit
- by Kirby Lindsay, March 31, 2014
©2014 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.