Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, December 03, 2007

Welcome Darrell Keim

Darrell Keim, the new Executive Director of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce, posted some comments on a couple of older stories over the weekend. I wanted to bring them out in a separate post so everyone could read them.

First, Darrell responded to this post:
I'll answer that.

The Chamber would be in favor of it. It is in our mission to be both pro-growth and enhance the quality of life in Moscow. We believe they are linked.

In fact, since you mentioned James Toyota, the Chamber did come out in favor of the city trying to accomodate their growth.

Additionally, when Wal Mart was looking at Moscow for a super center, the former Chamber Director ran a survey to find out how our constituents felt about "big box stores" and growth in Moscow. The results of this admittedly unscientific survey? Pro-growth.

As an aside-I expect that such a survey might be used again in the future to help us get the pulse of our constituency re other "hot issues" that might come up in town.

Incidentally, you are taking me out of context when you quote me saying "Its been an interesting year..." I was referring to the change over in leadership-Kimmell resigning, Mcmillan as interim, and their first hire only lasting 3 weeks.

Have a great day!

Darrell Keim
If the context you were speaking of was the high turnover in the Chamber leadership, then that is exactly what I was referring to. Many on the Palouse, including myself, feel that this has been a direct result of strains created between the Moscow business community and the Moscow city government, starting with the James Toyota fiasco last January. I hope with the new council that just got elected, you will have an easier time than your predecessors.

As far as the big-box survey goes, I'm still a bit mystified. There ALREADY is a big-box store in Moscow that has been a Chamber member for 15 years. Wal-Mart was simply looking to expand their operations. Are similar surveys sent out whenever a new business is looking at relocating to Moscow or expanding? I have no doubt that Moscow Chamber members were overwhelmingly in favor of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, as they have been in Pullman, but is free enterprise about popularity contests? I believe the market determines which stores will come in to town, not other businesses or the city government.

Then Darrell commented on this post:
A little grist for the conversation mill.

Figures shown by a UI economist at the Buy Local kickoff show (I'm approximating, I don't recall the precise figure) that $1 spent at a locally owned and operated store puts about $1.25 into the economy. That same dollar spent at a local chain store puts $1.15 into the local economy.

As the economist pointed out-both are excellent investments in the local economy. What really needs to be fought is retail leakage out of the area. And, what needs to be encouraged is bringing in people to shop from outside the area (ala tourism, etc). Or, bringing in nonretail businesses that create wealth (Such as manufacturing, tech, etc), rather then recirculating the money that is already here.

If you really want to hear more, the kickoff was recorded and can be heard at the KRFP/Radio Free Moscow website.

Have a great day!
Darrell Keim
Executive Director
Moscow Chamber of Commerce
"...both are excellent investments in the local economy. What really needs to be fought is retail leakage out of the area." I agree with you 110% and that is why myself and others have been working so hard to get a Wal-Mart in Pullman. But I think you would agree, maybe not publicly, that is not how Bill London, a prominent member of the No SuperWalMart group, sees it or meant by his comments in the paper. He is following the standard anti-Wal-Mart "battle plan" by "presenting an alternative," much as we have seen with Target and Costco in Pullman.

Thanks for stopping by Darrell, and please do so more often to share your observations with us!


keim said...

A few more thoughts...

YOU SAID: "As far as the big-box survey goes, I'm still a bit mystified.... Are similar surveys sent out whenever a new business is looking at relocating to Moscow or expanding?"

DARRELL RESPONDS: Of course you already know the answer to your question is no. Surveys aren't sent out regarding every business coming to town. Then, I think you'll admit, most businesses aren't as controversial as Wal Mart. And, yes, Wal Mart is already here. That didn't stop their expansion/relocation from being a hot issue in town.

I don't know for sure what Paul Kimmell (our former director) was seeking to accomplish with the survey. If I had been in charge I would of done the survey for two reasons: 1. Out of legitimate curiosity about what the community would say. 2. Assuming results in support of the Chambers pro-growth stance, I'd also want to be able to use the survey to support the Chamber's pro-growth position.

YOU ALSO SAID: "But I think you would agree, maybe not publicly, that is not how Bill London (see's it)... (He) is following the standard anti-Wal-Mart "battle plan" by "presenting an alternative," much as we have seen with Target and Costco in Pullman."

I RESPOND: I can't comment for how Bill London see's things. I will say this publicly. While I probably don't agree with Bill on some things, I do admire him. He stands up for what he believes in. Agree or disagree with him personally, I always admire that trait in a person.

In the case of Bill and other local businesses rallying together to promote local businesses I give a qualified "YAY!" to them.

If Wal Mart competing with local businesses is good for our town, then so is our local businesses organizing to provide better competition to Wal Mart. It is just this type of competition that makes for a healthy economy, and provides best for local consumers. I want both local businesses AND Wal Mart to thrive in town.

In fact, this sort of healthy competition is part of what the Chamber promotes. Take a look at our Mission Statement: The Moscow Chamber of Commerce's mission is to strengthen, promote and lead the business and economic community and support the free enterprise system while preserving and enhancing the quality of life. Our main mission is to promote our member businesses and organizations. This ultimately benefits the entire business community throughout the entire region. I'll have a separate post describing the steps our Chamber is currently taking to meet this mission.

*Why is my "YAY!" qualified? I don't necessarily agree with how they have chosen to define what constitutes a local business.

Have a great day!
Darrell Keim
Executive Director
Moscow Chamber of Commerce

keim said...

Tom-Following is the further elaboration on what the Chamber is currently doing to meet is mission that I promised in my previous note. It was originally posted on Vision 2020 in October under "Faith and Fireworks and the Moscow Chamber." It has been very lightly edited for Palousitics. Feel free to place it where you like on your blog, but please link it to my previous post. Please delete all above the line.

Originally posted on Vision 2020 under "Faith and Fireworks and the Moscow Chamber."

I'd like those interested to know how the Chambers bylaws indicate it is to be run, what it does, and how it serves our community.

This could be a somewhat lengthy note.

Let me state up front that employment at our Chamber is open to all qualified applicants; and our many volunteer positions are open to all Chamber members.

Please note that I don't care to address past history. I wasn't responsible for it, nor do I claim to know enough to speak knowledgably about it. I also feel it has minimal bearing on how the Moscow Chamber will be run now
and in the future. Please grant me that much of a tabula rasa. Also note that I am relatively new to the Chamber, but not to our community.

Our Chamber is run by a 16 person Board of Directors. This volunteer
committee consists of business owners and leaders from throughout the community. They are nominated and elected to three year terms by their fellow Chamber members (of which there are over 400). Any Chamber member is eligible for nomination, all members are asked to vote. These elections are
held yearly.

This working committee is tasked with overseeing what events our Chamber does, and which directions it pursues. Basically, they work to help us live up to our mission of leading "the business and economic community and support the free enterprise system while preserving and enhancing the
quality of life." The Chamber Executive Director both reports to this committee, and receives support from it. In a very real sense this committee is the Directors boss.

This committee oversees a variety of subcommittees, which I will attempt to summarize below. I believe that you will see much of what our Chamber does and how it serves Moscow by looking over this list. These sub-committees are where the rubber meets the road for our Chamber.

Government Affairs-The Chambers watchdog for upcoming national, state and local legislation effecting member businesses. This committee compiles a
yearly list of legislative priorities, and attempts to work toward changes that will benefit Moscow businesses. This committee is also in charge of the Chambers Candidates Forum, and Legislative Tour to Boise. Gov't Affairs
is tasked with attending Moscow City Council meetings.

Education/Workforce Development-This committee has a two fold mission. 1. It works with the Moscow School District to encourage them to provide course
work and opportunities that will help students become stronger members of our workforce. Go to www.latahworks.org for an example of something the
district has been developing in conjunction with our Chamber. NOTE: This is a very preliminary version. 2. Via monthly Chamber business luncheons we provide different topics of benefit to our member businesses.
They are the 3rd Wednesday of each month, unless otherwise indicated. Anyone interested is
invited to attend. They are usually held at the Best Western University Inn. Bring enough money to buy your own lunch, and please RSVP.

12/19-Presentation of City Development Impact Proposal by Gary Riedner, City of Moscow
1/16-Sexual Harassment Prevention by Elissa Keim, Raul Sanchez and YoshioSmith, WSU Center for Human Rights
2/20-State of the City by Mayor Chaney
3/19-Agribusiness Forum
4/16-How the Palouse Aquifer Issues Effect Local Business by Steve Robischone, Director of Palouse Basin Aquifer Committee
5/21-Womens Business Forum-Chaired by Holly Chetwood, Paradise Ford. Other panelists include Susan Fagan, SEL; Shelley L Bennett, Team Idaho Real Estate; Nancy Chaney, Mayor of Moscow.
6/18-Connecting Businesses W/UI Interns-Suzi Billington, UI
7/16-Best Hiring Practices and Growing Staff From Within, Gerard Connelly,Tri-State

Community Development-This is our economic development arm and actively participates in efforts toward improving or expanding our community's economic base. It is an active participant in Moscow revitalization efforts and plays a leading role in advocating for improvement of the physical
appearance of our community, planning and zoning efforts, and growth-related issues such as groundwater management, and transportation planning. This
sub-committee is tasked with attending applicable City of Moscow Community Development meetings.

Ambassadors/Public Relations-As the public outreach arm of the organization, this committee – through its active and visible Ambassadors – provides support and outreach to the business community through appearances at events, parades, open houses, groundbreakings, grand openings, VIP functions, and the ever-popular Business After Hours functions. The committee helps serve as the organizations "Red Carpet Brigade" for our community.

We also have membership and finance committees, but I think those are self explanatory. Other ad hoc committees may be created as deemed appropriate.

In addition to these committees, we also maintain a small staff that answers countless questions about Moscow from visitors, sends out relocation packages, helps at events, writes grants for local efforts, supports our volunteer board and much more.

Long story short, our Chamber works for the betterment of Moscow business and quality of life. We believe they are inextricably linked. We are open to all, and governed by a diverse group of Moscow business leaders. We're
not perfect, but we are constantly striving to improve. I'd say we are a pretty accurate reflection of Moscow in that sense.

I hope this note has provided you with an understanding of what our Chamber is, and services it attempts to provide.


Darrell Keim
Executive Director
Moscow Chamber of Commerce

*Please note that since I am new some of these Sub-committees duties are new, thus still being put into place. For new committees I am doing my best to recruit diverse committee members that will represent all aspects of the Moscow business community.

Tom Forbes said...

Thanks again Darrell!

I agree with you 100% on both chains and local stores co-existing and the need for healthy competition. I have been advocating that for years now. In fact, Steve Peterson, the UI economist, recently had me give a presentation on just that subject at UI. And I have no problem with a survey being used as a PR tool, I just don't want to see it used as a litmus test. I think we both might agree that Wal-Mart being a "hot" issue is just a particular group's idea of pushing a political agenda, not a business one.

I have to disagree with you, however, on Bill London. His numerous comments in the newspaper and on the Vision 2020 message board over the years have made clear that any "local business" interest he is promoting is just a cover for his left-wing, anti-free market agenda. Taking a stand or not, it's hard for me to applaud anyone that does that.

I think the latest Christ Church boycott advocated by Moscow liberals shows just how hypocritical their support for "local" business is. They only support business that meets their narrow ideological standards, local or not.

keim said...

Quick clarification-I'm not saying I agree with the stands Bill takes. I'm saying I admire people that stand up for what they believe in.