It was an idea that some saw as a progressive move for the community, while others were left scratching their heads.
When the Powell Economic Partnership and the Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce began working in conjunction with each other in January, it was seen as a temporary fix; the chamber was actively searching for a new executive director, and PEP stepped in to take over day-to-day operations until the position was filled.
As the months wore on, however, it became clear, through input from the community and the boards of both entities, that Powell might be better served if the two joined forces permanently. While some questioned whether such a merger would be in the community’s best interest, data gathered through two informational meetings showed the community was on board with the idea.
In April, it became official, as PEP and the chamber consolidated services.
“Ultimately, the chamber’s decision to look to PEP to manage its operations just made sense,” PEP Executive Director Christine Bekes said in April.
After a transition period — in which PEP relocated its base of operations to the chamber offices and a new position of visitor’s coordinator was filled — PEP has worked diligently to streamline services and to ensure no important services are being lost. PEP’s primary focus continues to be economic development, such as attracting new businesses to Powell and providing support to existing businesses. At the same time, it continues to work with the chamber and visitor’s center to make the chamber building a one-stop hub for businesses to market their services and promote their community.
“The move to consolidate services was not just a move for efficiency, but of even greater significance is the ability to now move forward on a comprehensive strategy in which all our leading organizations are working on the same path,” Bekes wrote in a recent column in the Tribune. “Why not maximize all the economic and community development efforts? Our strategies are now guided by one board of directors with a vision that is driven by sustaining a more vibrant Powell.”
The multiple empty storefronts dotting downtown Powell underscore how important economic development efforts are. We want to see healthy businesses thriving downtown and across our community.
Since May, PEP has been front and center in community efforts that include the Connect 2 Community initiative with Northwest College. That was highlighted by the successful Paint the Town Red kickoff event in downtown Powell in August. Fundraising is now underway for an electronic reader board outside the chamber building to inform the community of upcoming events, and an overhaul of the Powell Visitor Center website is planned for 2018.
In short, good things are happening in Powell and PEP, in conjunction with the chamber and the visitor center, continues to be a part of it. At 8:15 a.m. Friday at The Commons, PEP will host a breakfast for chamber members as well as the community to provide more information on the new operations and upcoming projects. We encourage anyone interested in learning more about the consolidation to attend. Community feedback is important; after all, it’s what led to this moment in the first place.