Chamber helps citizens settle into the city
In the chick flick “New in Town,” Renee Zellwegger plays an ambitious executive from Miami who finds herself battling the locals as she’s assigned to streamline a manufacturing plant in the quaint Minnesota town of New Ulm. They gradually warm up to her — and she, to them — through shared admiration of tapioca.
The City of Redmond is far more cosmopolitan, but no matter where they’re from, or what their interests may be, visitors or transplants might initially feel like a fish out of water.
The Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce simultaneously assists newcomers and pumps up local businesses by offering a wealth of information about what to see and do, how to get around and how to troubleshoot in Redmond.
“We’re a little like 411,” noted Carla Johnson, the chamber’s director of communications, media and events. Uninitiated individuals and relocation specialists call for advice on everything from restaurants to rafting tours, where to get a computer fixed or bring a sick pet. Brochures and guide books are available in the chamber office at 16210 NE 80th St.
“We get a lot of calls about good business practices — ‘Are they reputable?’ ‘Is the company still in business?’,” she explained. “We really encourage Chamber members to network and get to know each other. To grow economic vitality, you have to know who to refer people to.”
Whether people want storage space, meeting facilities, French horn lessons or a children’s play group, chamber staff and participants try to direct them to resources that can help them settle into the community.
This is a smart time to go that extra mile, Johnson noted, with the construction boom in downtown Redmond.
“Businesses really want to be competitive with Bellevue and are looking forward to the changes,” she said. At the same time, traffic and parking revisions can put people on edge, “so we’re kind of a mediator between businesses and the city. People want to know, ‘How will this affect me?’ We direct them to the Web site (www.redmond.gov) that explains what’s going on.”
Sustainability issues are also on people’s minds, Johnson said. “People want greener construction, but it’s sometimes more expensive. They want to know how they can get incentives.”
There’s no official list of the Seven Wonders of Redmond, but yes, people constantly ask, “Where is Microsoft?” and are amazed that its kingdom is so vast.
Along with the Microsoft Museum, Johnson suggests that callers check out Marymoor Park, Farrel-McWhirter Park, the Sammamish River trail, Redmond Town Center, the Redmond Saturday Market and public art in downtown Redmond.
The City of Redmond also offers a Web site, www.experienceredmond.com, with information about local lodging and activities.
For more information about the Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce, which will be hosting its 63rd Annual Gala and Auction this Saturday, call (425) 885-4014 or visit www.redmondchamber.org.