Issaquah Chamber of Commerce urged city leaders to rethink medical marijuana decision

January 3, 2012

Matthew Bott

Before City Council members approved a landmark decision on medical marijuana collective gardens last month, business leaders quietly urged officials to consider possible fallout on the local economy.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce CEO Matthew Bott sent a letter to council members Dec. 2, days before the council set rules for collective gardens and limited medical marijuana operations near parks and schools.

The chamber did not take a position on the issue, but the organization’s Government Affairs Committee asked Bott to offer input on possible impacts to Issaquah’s standing.

“Our reputation as a safe, family-friendly and wholesome community is one of our greatest assets — and one that has been carefully developed by the community for decades,” Bott wrote. “Many in the community, and specifically those in the residential real estate market, feel that the sanctioning of a collective marijuana garden may damage this well-developed community reputation.”

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Take a holiday carriage ride at Gilman Village

December 6, 2011

Santa and free horse-drawn carriage rides are coming to Gilman Village.

The Gilman Village Merchants and Cascade Team Real Estate are the primary sponsors for a holiday happening from 5-8 p.m. Dec. 10 at St. George’s Square in Gilman Village, 355 N.W. Gilman Blvd.

The event, co-sponsored by the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, features free horse-drawn carriage rides and the chance to visit Santa’s Gilman Workshop, Chamber CEO Matt Bott said.

While at the workshop, visitors can have a free picture taken with Santa himself, according to information released by the Cascade Team. Free coffee and hot chocolate also will be available.

Visitors are asked to bring an unwrapped toy to support Santa’s efforts with the Childhood Cancer Care Line. Cash donations to the Merry Christmas Issaquah fund also will be accepted.

Other sponsors include Extraordinary Mama and the Issaquah Coffee Co.

Learn more at www.thecascadeteam.com.

Issaquah decks the halls with holiday happenings

November 29, 2011

All around Issaquah, it’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays.

From downtown Issaquah to Gilman Village to the historic train depot, signs of the coming holidays are starting to sprout.

Gilman Village Merchants and the Cascade Team Real Estate are the primary sponsors for a holiday happening from 5-8 p.m. Dec. 10 at St. George’s Square in Gilman Village, 355 N.W. Gilman Blvd.

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Issaquah businesses target tourists for attractions, events

October 25, 2011

Issaquah leaders often describe local qualities as treasures — a quaint downtown, mountain panoramas, historic buildings and more.

Local businesspeople describe such attractions as “tourism assets” all set for out-of-town guests to enjoy and, in the process, spend dollars in hotels and restaurants.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce officials gathered representatives from local “tourism assets” Oct. 18 to discuss successes and opportunities to lure more tourists to the area.

Leaders from artEAST, Cougar Mountain Zoo, Village Theatre, and other Issaquah attractions and events, said attendance is strong, but sometimes people overlook local offerings.

“Tastin’ N Racin’ — unfortunately — is Issaquah’s best-kept secret,” event organizer Craig Cooke said. “Nationally, it’s not. There are events in 13 other states that have all called and patterned their event on what goes on on land and what goes on in water.”

Tastin’ N Racin’ attracts 20,000 people — and sometimes up to 50,000 — to Lake Sammamish State Park each June for hydroplane races and onshore offerings.

Other long-established attractions face a similar challenge in luring potential tourists.

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Issaquah economic development manager departs for Burien

October 25, 2011

The top economic development official at City Hall departed Oct. 21 for a similar post in Burien.

Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble traded a decadeslong plan to redevelop the Issaquah business district for a chance to join a yearslong effort to redevelop downtown Burien.

“I think a great majority of the job of an economic development person is building relationships with people in the community and people in the business community, and being there as a good resource for them after you build the relationship,” he said before the transition from the Eastside to South King County. “Projects come and go, but to me that’s the most important.”

Trimble started at City Hall in July 2007, after a community economic vitality task force outlined strategies for city leaders to retain businesses and encourage other entrepreneurs to settle in Issaquah.

The post in Burien opened after Economic Development Manager Dick Loman retired last month. Trimble served in similar roles for cities in California and Maryland before the Issaquah appointment.

“I was the first one in, so I’m just proud to have launched it in the right direction and gotten things going here,” Trimble said.

Mayor Ava Frisinger described the position as “a growing role” for Trimble and city leaders.

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Issaquah Chamber of Commerce to spotlight nonprofit groups at leadership summit

October 25, 2011

Rob McKenna

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce leaders plan to showcase local nonprofit organizations at a summit dedicated to the groups’ efforts in the community.

The chamber is hosting a Nonprofit Leadership & Civic Service Summit on Nov. 2 to spotlight nonprofit organizations and encourage business leaders to foster closer ties to the nonprofit sector.

“It’s a tough time for everybody,” chamber CEO Matthew Bott said. “If there are ways we can work together and partner, that’s what the chamber wants to help do.”

The chamber lined up Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger, Leadership Eastside President James Whitfield and state Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican candidate for governor, to speak at the summit.

(U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee is the Democrat in the gubernatorial race.)

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Issaquah Chamber of Commerce backs liquor initiative

October 25, 2011

Costco-backed Initiative 1183, a November ballot measure to loosen state liquor rules, has received support from the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.

Matthew Bott

If passed, I-1183 calls for state-run liquor stores to close by June 2012. The measure also aims to require the state to license private enterprises to sell and distribute hard liquor, set license fees based on sales and regulate licensees.

Still, opponents said safety concerns remain about efforts to privatize the system and sell booze at more locations.

Local business leaders announced the endorsement Oct. 14. Election Day is Nov. 8, and King County Elections is mailing ballots to voters.

“The Issaquah chamber stands with our peers across the state in endorsing I-1183 as part of our collective goal to help support the Washington economy, encourage government reform and introduce competition into the marketplace within this industry,” chamber CEO Matthew Bott said in a statement.

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Issaquah Chamber of Commerce endorses Costco-backed liquor initiative

October 15, 2011

NEW — 6 p.m. Oct. 15, 2011

Costco-backed Initiative 1183, a ballot measure to loosen state liquor rules, received support from the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, business leaders announced Oct. 14.

If passed, I-1183 calls for state-run liquor stores to close by June 2012. The measure also aims to require the state to license private enterprises to sell and distribute hard liquor, set license fees based on sales and regulate licensees.

Still, opponents said safety concerns remain about efforts to privatize the system and sell booze at more locations.

“The Issaquah chamber stands with our peers across the state in endorsing I-1183 as part of our collective goal to help support the Washington economy, encourage government reform and introduce competition into the marketplace within this industry,” chamber CEO Matthew Bott said in a statement.

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Small Business Awards finalists include Issaquah entrepreneurs

September 27, 2011

Issaquah companies specializing in iconic root beer floats and pan-Pacific shipping earned spots as finalists in the inaugural King County Executive’s Small Business Awards.

Trans-NET Inc., a shipping company focused on Far East ports in Russia, is nominated in the Exporting Small Business of the Year category. Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in is up for Minority Small Business of the Year.

“Those are two very diverse businesses,” Issaquah Chamber of Commerce CEO Matthew Bott said. “One does niche shipping to Russia and one does burgers and fries and nostalgia. It shows that we have some really unique stories behind our local businesses.”

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Issaquah Chamber of Commerce unveils city-focused agenda

July 5, 2011

Leaders focus on changes to signage, tourism

Issaquah business leaders plan to focus on City Hall in the months ahead to foster economic development, bolster tourism-promotion efforts and shape regulations to benefit businesses.

Matthew Bott, Issaquah Chamber of Commerce CEO, said the local agenda formed after chamber leaders consulted Issaquah entrepreneurs. The effort marks the inaugural legislative agenda from the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce focused on city issues.

“We really went out and asked our members, ‘What are you seeing? What are your priorities? What would you like to see?’” he said. “We made a specific focus on city government.”

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