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Redmond Chamber votes unanimously to participate in the creation of One Redmond: Structural changes coming, but services will remain
Expect some future changes to the Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce (GRCC) as it plans to take part in the creation of One Redmond, a new developing public-private initiative that focuses on economic vitality and community building.
Members of the GRCC’s board of trustees voted unanimously to move forward with the partnership at its annual retreat, according to a Monday press release from the chamber.
Andrea Lachmann, a board member and the incoming 2012 board chair, said the partnership will allow the chamber, along with the city’s two other economic, community-focused entities — not-for-profits Redmond Economic Development Alliance (REDA) and Realize Redmond — to strengthen and streamline their efforts in a more collaborative and efficient way.
For example, fundraising will be handled by one group — One Redmond — and not three different entities, which will eliminate “the risk of alienating our funding sources,” according Tom Martin, the GRCC board chair and a senior vice president at Evergreen Hospital Medical Center.
Martin pointed out that while the chamber’s structure and organization will more than likely change moving forward, the services provided by the chamber to its 450 members will be maintained — and enhanced — by the new partnership.
“It’s a chance for the chamber to reinvent ourselves,” Martin said. “It’s a chance to get our missions aligned.”
Initially, there will be no changes to membership dues or staffing at the chamber, but that may change once the One Redmond structure is in place, Martin said. In addition, the chamber will hold off hiring a permanent chamber president until the structure of One Redmond is finalized early next year and then make a decision on what it will do, Martin said. Danielle Lynch has served as the acting president since Chris Hoffmann resigned in April and moved to Florida.
Besides helping with the city’s common economic development vision, the chamber chose to partner with One Redmond to expand its declining membership, which has dropped from 550 to 450 members over the last five years, according to Martin.
“We needed to evaluate ourselves carefully,” Martin said. “There are business leaders who don’t participate in chamber activities. This partnership will help attract different kinds of members. We know this will make membership services even better.”
A COMMON VISION
Lachmann added the partnership will also improve efficiency as all of Redmond’s economic leaders will combine forces rather than “swim upstream” with overlapping efforts.
“At the end of the day, we all want to have a vibrant community here in Redmond,” said Lachmann, the leasing director of PS Business Parks in Redmond. “It’s getting that message out and getting everyone on the same page. That’s the exciting part. Now we have to figure out the structure of all the players.”
The other “players” of the One Redmond Initiative, proposed by Mayor John Marchione earlier this year, are the City of Redmond, REDA and Realize Redmond, a community-building group focused on fundraising for improvement and enhancement projects in the city.
It was quickly realized after the formation of REDA and Realize Redmond that these two recently formed entities, along with the chamber, were “asking similar questions to similar people,” said Marchione, a board member for Realize Redmond. “We realized that we need to come together and explain to people how we have one common vision.”
The boards of trustees from both REDA and Realize Redmond are expected to vote on a proposal to join the One Redmond Initiative within a month, according to REDA chair Bill Biggs, the vice president of administrative services for Group Health. After that, board members from all three entities will meet. They are hoping to have a structure of One Redmond in place by the end of next January, Biggs said. Once the structure is established, fundraising for One Redmond will begin.
An independent consultant was hired earlier this year to explore the needs of the community and examine the pros and cons of a possible economic development collaboration — a recession-busting, streamlining strategy by other municipalities across the state and nation.
Redmond is not the first municipality in the state that is looking into this sort of partnership. Earlier this year, Snohomish County recently executed a successful collaboration when the Everett Area Chamber of Commerce partnered with the South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce to form the Economic Development Council of Snohomih County. The alliance was formed in response to falling revenues during the recent recession, and also as part of a strategy to unify and coordinate economic development efforts in Snohomish County — similar reasons why Redmond is creating One Redmond.
GRCC, REDA and Realize Redmond will be the “bounding partners” of One Redmond, which is designed to attract both people from both the private and public sector, including City of Redmond officials, according to Marchione.
“We haven’t developed the structure of this yet, but our objective is to be inclusive, not exclusive,” Marchione said. “This is an opportunity to expand community engagement to everyone.”
CHAMBER PLAYS IMPORTANT ROLE
There have been rumors that the services the chamber provide will die under the new structure of One Redmond, but that is far from the truth, according to chamber board members.
“The services and benefits that the chamber historically provides will continue under One Redmond,” Martin said. “In fact, they are critical to the success of One Redmond.”
The chamber’s name and structure may change, but its services and membership will only strengthen under the One Redmond initiative, said Biggs, who is also a chamber board member.
“We know there are stakeholders in Redmond that have not been at the table,” he said. “We need to find a way to attract those stakeholders and put an end to the fragmentation. If you are going to be effective, you have to be aligned. We have put all these pieces together so we can attract the brightest and best of this community.”
Bottom line, the chamber, along with REDA and Realize Redmond, want to “create a common vision for Redmond and show that Redmond is a great place to live, work and play,” Martin said.
For more information, contact GRCC at (425) 885-4014 or visit www.redmondchamber.org.