Published May 2002

Greater Edmonds leader keeps community focus

By Kimberly Hilden
Herald Business Journal Assistant Editor

With a new leader on board and a new marketing campaign under way, the Greater Edmonds Chamber of Commerce has set its sights on promoting the city and improving member benefits.

“We have several priorities in the coming year,” said Executive Director Chris Guitton, a former chamber board member and president who was hired in January to head the organization. He succeeded Shari Nault, who resigned in September to return to Montana.

Community commitment ranks high on the chamber priority list, and will take form in both marketing the community as a destination place and organizing events to make it one, said Guitton, formerly the Operations Manager for QRC Inc., an Edmonds management-consulting firm.

“We are responsible for organizing several activities downtown,” he said, including the Fourth of July parade and fireworks, the Taste of Edmonds in August and the Classic Car Show in September. And this month, on May 4 and 5, the chamber will partner with the nonprofit Edmonds in Bloom Association for its annual spring festival.

As for getting the word out, the chamber received a $25,000 grant from the city of Edmonds this year for marketing purposes — publishing a community calendar of events, printing rack cards to be displayed on ferries and at airports, and creating tourism brochures.

Also, TEAM Edmonds, a committee of the chamber, plans to have an annual budget of about $120,000 to be used to market the city as “a destination of choice for visitors, for shoppers and for new businesses that would want to establish an office in town,” Guitton said.

The committee is made up of business people and residents of the greater Edmonds area, Guitton said. The group has raised funds through pledges from business owners and commercial property owners, the chamber and the Edmonds Alliance for Economic Development, among others.

With a marketing plan in hand, TEAM Edmonds now is working with a graphic designer to come up with a logo to be used on future marketing efforts, he said.

“We had group advertising and group marketing in the past, but it always involved more specific businesses,” Guitton said. “Here, we are really not naming businesses but focusing on Edmonds.”

Along with city promotion, the chamber is focused on its benefit offerings, Guitton said.

“Our mission is to improve the business viability of our members, and so we are working very hard lining up tangible benefits,” he said. Benefits include member-to-member discounts, professional development, group advertising and networking.

It’s a lot to handle, but Guitton has help from Assistant Director Jan Vance.

Still, the move from board member to executive director has been a big change, he said.

“I would be a lot more forgiving now if I were back on the board,” Guitton said with a chuckle. “We have an open-door policy, and believe me, people use it, so I had to learn how to cut a four-hour job in 10-, 15-minute segments to get things done.”

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