After 12 years, Tualatin Chamber CEO calls it a career
If Linda Moholt could name the biggest accomplishment of her more than 12 years of as chief executive officer of the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce, it would be the collaborative efforts the partnerships the chamber has developed over the years in the community.
That all adheres to the chamber's motto of "business and community working together."
On Jan. 15, Moholt officially retires from her chamber activities, handing over the reins to Roy Gugliotta, who has worked as CEO of chambers of commerce in Arizona and California.
There's an uncanny symmetry to the start and end of Moholt's tenure in Tualatin.
Moholt was hired in 2008 when the country entered a major recession, with the economy hitting rock bottom. She is leaving during an unprecedented pandemic that has devastated local businesses.
"It's been such a challenge for so many kinds of businesses but we actually do have businesses that are thriving," Moholt noted. "There are manufacturing sectors that are doing well. There are businesses that are learning new ways of connecting and producing."
Looking back, Moholt said the partnerships the chamber has formed throughout the community are something she's extremely proud of, especially the ones formed during competition in the America's Best Communities competition in 2016. That resulted in a $100,000 grant that allowed the city to create a mobile Makerspace, a converted trailer that was filled with technical equipment for students in the STEAM disciplines, which is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
"The America's Best Communities was probably the biggest thing that we did with the whole community, and we became a real lead partner in that effort. ... We've continued that work with the (Tigard-Tualatin) School District to this day," said Moholt. "We knew it was important for the business community to have the right skilled labor, and we knew it was important for the schools to be teaching that so that when kids came out, they could be applying for amazing jobs that we have."
In Tualatin, the chamber has advocated for allowing smaller businesses to remain open during the coronavirus pandemic, or to open up again, giving them the same opportunities as the big box stores, stores that have "been open and they've done it safely," Moholt said.
But while the pandemic has wreaked havoc on business communities throughout the nation, Moholt is quick to point out that the year began on a high note for Tualatin.
"When we started in 2020, we had more jobs in Tualatin than we had people that lived here. We had over 30,000 jobs here — and it's been as high as 33,000 jobs —and our population's 27,000. That's massive growth we have seen over the last 12 years."
Only 10% of the workforce lives in Tualatin, Moholt pointed out.
Moholt also is proud of the work of Jonathan Taylor, Tualatin's economic development manager, who suggested a business recovery center to help out businesses during the pandemic. With Washington County on board with the pitch, that resulted in those recovery centers being located in several chambers of commerce throughout the county, including Tualatin, which also was able to hire a business consultant to help guide businesses affected by COVID-19 as well.
Clackamas County opened several business recovery centers of its own in December, too, including one at the nearby Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce.
Moholt said she's also looking forward to the completion of the Portland General Electric complex on Southwest 124th Avenue in Tualatin, pointing out that the utility company will soon be one of the city's largest employers, bringing some of the utility's corporate employees to Tualatin as well.
She's also proud of how roadways have been improved locally over the years, noting that when she was hired as the chamber's CEO, the board of directors told her that in addition to being a advocate for businesses on southeast side Washington County, they wanted to see roadways improved to help business as well.
"I was told there shouldn't be a single meeting that we don't have representatives at," recalled Moholt.
As far as the future of businesses in Tualatin, Moholt sees current businesses as a strength, but she also sees new businesses wanting to locate in the city. She noted food processing and production and medical device manufacturing have joined high-tech manufacturing as notable economic sectors she expects to continue growing.
Moholt will join her husband, Ron, in semi-retirement. She will continue her volunteer work with Work Ready, which focuses on educating kids to the jobs of the future.
Other plans include doing some traveling.
"Ron and I are crazy for travel," she said. "Ireland is going to be our first place we go to when it opens up."
Her takeaway during her time with the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce is that Tualatin is a great community with wonderful city government leaders.
"Our city is well run. It's strong," she said. "Half of our tax base is paid for by the business community, which makes it much easier for property taxes for citizens."
Moholt said she's honored to have to have represented the Tualatin Chamber throughout the years, thanking "our incredible members, board of directors, committees, volunteers, staff, and community for the opportunity of a lifetime."
(This corrects an earlier version of this story that incorrectly identified the chamber of commerce that Moholt represented and clarifies those who will work in the new PGE facility on 124th Avenue.)
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