Chamber of Commerce moving to downtown spot
With the formation of Visit Newberg, a new marketing tourism group dedicated to promoting the city, the organization that formerly provided marketing services is focusing its business plan only on visitor center services.
As part of its annual business plan presented to the city, the Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce is seeking $95,000 in funding the visitor center. The city will not take action until June 30, the end of the fiscal year. These funds would be expended during the fiscal year 2019-2020.
That business plan also calls for the possible relocation of the visitor center and the chamber itself to a downtown location that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, while also encouraging foot traffic, supports downtown revitalization and increases accessibility to a dense population of visitor friendly businesses.
Chamber CEO Shannon Buckmaster said they have space set up for a new building being constructed at 200 E. Hancock St. It will be a mixed use building, with the Chamber occupying two of four commercial suites on the ground floor. Additionally, there will be four residential units upstairs.
"We think it will be a good fit," Buckmaster said, adding moving downtown was a better opportunity to serve all businesses. "It's a proud accomplishment for the Chamber and what will be our next stages of development."
Buckmaster said the three-year lease on the Chamber's current location at 2119 N. Portland Road will soon lapse. She said depending on when the Hancock Street building is completed, they anticipate moving in either the fall or next spring.
"We've been very grateful to be in our current space, but we're hoping to better serve our pedestrian traffic and be a more visible supporter," she said. "We will still continue to serve every business regardless of if they are in the downtown area."
This is the first time the Chamber's business plans have not included marketing plans. Those services are now being taken over by Leslie Caldwell, the first director for Visit Newberg. Although the idea for a separate tourism marketing committee stems back to 2016, it wasn't until this year that the group got off the ground and hired Caldwell, its first employee.
The city has contracted with the Chamber to provide visitor information services for decades with the understanding it would provide a knowledgeable staff at a physical location.
According to its proposed visitor center budget submitted to the city, of the $95,577 to be spent, $45,000 will be used for staffing, administrative work and benefits. Shared overhead costs make up the remaining $50,577.
According to its proposal, community communication is a function of the center, engaging with shareholders and staging ongoing events. The center must also maintain a well-stocked inventory of over 1,000 maps, brochures and other materials to distribute.