Published February 2006

Arlington’s newly merged
chamber begins work

By John Wolcott
SCBJ Editor

The newly formed Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce has new officers, new members and new energy — but now it’s looking for a new home.

Beginning this year with the merger of two previously separate chambers in the same town, the new chamber held its first joint membership meeting in January at the Arlington Boys & Girls Club, followed by a board retreat to discuss goals and how to merge the functions and programs of the two associations.

Susan Nelson, general manager of the Hawthorn Inn & Suites at Smokey Point is the new president. David Bolton of Flowers by George in Arlington is vice president. Mary Ann Monty of Ramo Realty & Construction Co. at Smokey Point is secretary.

Kathy Cherrier, assistant manager of Bank of America’s Arlington branch, is treasurer, and the new chamber has two past presidents of the former chambers on the board: Julie Morse of Cascade Bank at Smokey Point and Bill Kinney, director of the Arlington Boys & Girls Club.

For now, the Arlington Boys & Girls Club will continue to be the meeting place for monthly general membership meetings, Nelson said.

Now one of the largest chambers in the county, with a combined membership of 350, the newly merged chamber is looking for office space near the freeway that also would have room enough to share with the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau’s Stanwood visitors information center, which needs to move from its present location at the Stanwood exit.

“Tourism brings 25,000 people a year into our community and our businesses,” said Nelson, who also is president of the Snohomish County Lodging Association and on the board of the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau.

“At Hawthorn Inn, we’ve noticed a lot of increased business from Canadians heading for Quil Ceda Village’s new outlet mall. We know tourism is important to promote here, and the chamber has an opportunity to do that even better if we can co-locate with the visitors center,” she said.

There will be more services available to members, such as the Smokey Point chamber’s new insurance plan for its membership, and the larger membership will have a stronger chamber voice for the north county area, she said.

The two chambers shared some dual memberships among their groups and kept in touch on issues, but the merged chamber will be better equipped to communicate about both similar and different needs for Old Town in downtown Arlington and the newer retail business district at Smoky Point, she said.

One of the principal speakers at the first membership meeting in January was Vic Ericson, Arlington’s new economic development director of several months. He noted that compared to other communities he has visited in the state, Arlington has “a great job base here and an amazing amount of manufacturing at the Arlington Airport that helps to keep area youth at home in their own community.”

He said it will be an advantage for the two major chambers in the north county area to be combined and working for the best possible development in the city during the anticipated rapid growth that is expected in the area between now and 2025.

“There will be a more efficient use of resources, increased networking possibilities and a chance to create new opportunities for business growth, with two similar groups focusing on improving communication and business development in north county,” he said.

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