Nurturing community alliances

For the first time, the City of Sequim and the Port of Port Angeles Commission held a joint meeting, seeking to find common ground on city priorities for the future.

The City of Sequim City Council met with Port Commission Executive Director Karen Goschen, Port Commissioner Colleen McAleer of District I and Port Commissioner Connie Beauvais of District III to discuss the short and longterm priorities of each entity and learn how the two can work together.

The City of Sequim and Port Commission both agreed on nurturing community alliances. Assistant City Manager Joe Irvin touched upon this during his presentation on the city’s economic development goals and Beauvais said part of the Port Commission’s outreach program was reaching out to communities and governments.

“That’s why we’re here, we want to understand you and see where we can work together on things,” Beauvais said.

The entities found common ground on putting emphasis on increasing broadband services and business opportunities for remote workers.

Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush saidt city officials want to continue to increase opportunities for independent workers and broadband services in Sequim, such as the Clallam Coworking business that opened earlier this month.

Beauvais agreed the Port Commission also is looking into this broadband services.

“That’s something we’re starting to investigate,” Beauvais said. “(It’s) not just needed in Sequim but all across the county.”

The Port Commission and city officials already have worked together in business retention expansion. Bush mentioned how city officials are putting a lot of focus on its business retention expansion plan and thanked McAleer and Goschen for giving their input and feedback on previous drafts for this plan.

McAleer said she is impressed with the direction Sequim is going in. “I’m really impressed by the customer service aspects of the actions that you’re taking and the attempts to really connect with businesses and younger people in the community,” she said.

The Port Commission stated it is making efforts to increase workforce development in Clallam County and suggested to city officials to be proactive in engaging with the Olympic Workforce Development Council (WDC) in order to get the funding Clallam County deserves.

“We need to connect in a proactive way with our WDC to make sure they understand what the needs are of Sequim and all of the cities of the county,” McAleer said.

“What I ask of you is to engage with the Olympic Workforce Development Council so that those decisions and funding that they are spending when they fund different nonprofits and organizations across the three counties, that we’ve got our voice at the table.”

McAleer explained that over the past 12 years $72 million has gone toward the WDC and she feels Clallam County has not seen the results of this funding.

“We need to make sure Sequim and Clallam County are getting their fair share when they go forward and put out these funding opportunities to support workforce training,” she said.

For the future, Port commissioners said they would like to achieve a reliable and sustainable timber harvest by 2020 that could bring in millions of dollars to the county as a whole.

“The arrearage over the last 10 years amounted to $12 million that could have come into this county,” Goschen said.

The Port Commission also discussed the development of a commercial air service that could help businesses in Sequim and the county grow. McAleer said she has heard a lot of businesses in Sequim and Carlsborg explain that in order for businesses to grow and attract customers they need to have a commercial air service.

“We will do what we have to do and put the emphasis in this area and get air service back to Clallam County,” she said.

Both Sequim mayor Dennis Smith and McAleer expressed interest in annual Port/City meetings.

“I want to see what we can do for Sequim,” McAleer said.