EDITOR’S NOTE: South King Media Founder/Publisher Scott Schaefer serves on the Board of Directors for the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce.
By Andrea H. Reay
As a community-driven membership organization, the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce is just as varied and diverse as the Southwest King County community we serve. We are driven by the needs, requests, and direction of our members and are always searching for ways to help our community grow, develop, and thrive. All leadership decisions start first with our members and how we can help impact the area in which we live and work.
With the knowledge that the people who live and work here are our most important economic resource, the Chamber has been a long-time advocate for both businesses and workers in the Southside. There is no shortage of challenges that we face as a community, each with varying layers of complexity.
Some of these complex challenges that affect our region, and ways that the Chamber and its partners are working towards solutions, are:
- Education & Workforce Development
- Manage our Success Foundation, which promotes and improves economic development opportunities in the Southside through education, workforce, and community development efforts
- Hold the annual PNW Education & Workforce Summit to provide insight into the status of the school-to-work pipeline in our region
- Conduct an annual Youth Summer Program, including 2020’s Virtual Workforce Discovery Lab, which teaches students necessary skills for the workforce while also giving them a glimpse of possible future careers
- Equitable Economic Development
- Work alongside our five cities, Highline College, and the Port of Seattle as part of the Soundside Alliance to promote economic development in the Southside
- Offer support in the form of the Southside Strong Fund to provide cash grants to help small businesses recover from the human and economic impacts of COVID-19
- Hold the annual PNW Economic Equity Summit, the next installment of which will take place virtually on June 23, 2021 and is free and open to all members of the community
- COVID-19 Response and Economic Recovery
- Manage the Southside Mitigation And Recovery Taskforce, also known as SMART, to find real solutions to the challenges our community faces as we confront the human and economic impacts of COVID-19
- Create the SMART Webinar Series to bring together experts to discuss and explain topics that are vital during economic recovery and beyond
- Offer support in the form of the Southside Promise, an outreach initiative that provides businesses with reopening tools and resources as well as a direct pathway to cash grants from the Southside Strong Fund
- Distribute Safe Start Kits containing face coverings, disposable masks, sanitizers, and resource information to businesses throughout King County
As an organization, we hope to rise to every challenge, however, there are clear pathways that will help us find the solutions together.
Our Chamber was founded on the belief that we are better and stronger together. That is more than a tagline for us; it truly is our purpose and our focus. No matter what challenges we face, when we convene and collaborate in full transparency and partnership, there is nothing we can’t accomplish together.
One of the most important ways we can collaborate on the issues our community faces is by focusing on inclusion. Businesses must have a seat at the table when policy decisions are being made, especially when these decisions have an impact on economic development.
We cannot reiterate this final point enough: The business community must be included in all conversations about collaborative partnership. Together, we will find the creative solutions that are required to tackle the most complicated issues we face.
At the Seattle Southside Chamber, we are building a bigger table and doing all we can to ensure that there is a seat for everyone. We want you all to join us at that table. Join us in making a difference.
This article was written by Andrea H. Reay, President/CEO of Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce, “A voice for business, a leader in the community.” Seattle Southside Chamber has served the communities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac, and Tukwila since 1988.
For more information about the Chamber, including a full list of member benefits and resources, please visit their website at www.SeattleSouthsideChamber.com.