By Steve Powell
MARYSVILLE – “I’ll be there,” the old Jackson 5 classic, could be the chamber’s new motto.
“We serve small businesses, and answer any questions they have. We want to be a chamber powerhouse,” Erin Reynolds of Coastal Community Bank said Thursday.
Reynolds was the brainpower behind the first Marysville Small Business Summit at the Opera House. She explained that the Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce wants to be more relevant in the community.
Chamber director Jesica Stickles said that means “reaching out to small businesses and introducing them to resources.”
All three floors of the Opera House were packed with 24 vendors also trying to reach out to the business community. Just a month ago only a few had signed up.
“Then boom, we ended up turning people away,” Stickles said.
Sheila Frazier of Marysville was one of the vendors. A nurse by trade, she started her own Tupperware business in November. “I’m building my business” and wanted to make connections, she said.
Michael Hudson, part of a family owned financial company in Everett, said he joined in because it was “a good networking opportunity.”
Debbie Atwood was just the type of person organizers were hoping to attract to the event. She just started her own Century 21 business in town. She has worked for the real estate office in Lynnwood, but opened a satellite office here because she lives here and much of her work is here.
“I want to get more involved,” she said. “I want to get to know business owners.”
Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring welcomed the participants.
“Our economy is driven by small businesses,” he said, adding that there are 2,143 businesses in town, most of them with just a few employees.
He said his job in government is to remove obstacles for businesses to thrive. “How can we make your life easier?” he asked.
He talked about a new system the city is using that allows some builders to obtain permits in just a day.
Nehring mentioned that big businesses have all types of departments to do different work. But for small businesses, much of it has to be done by the owner.
“We provide more hand-holding” to help you through the processes, he said.
Speakers included a team from WorkSource that talked about resources if you are your own HR department. They mentioned screening applicants by phone, even if only for five minutes. During interviews, put the applicants in the role of what they would be stepping into. And make sure your hire will help your business grow, and you’re not just flipping a coin. They also talked about using a program by WorkSource and Monster that not only connects you to the best candidates, but also ranks them.
SCORE gave a presentation on Building a Strong Foundation, and the event ended with an Economic Forecast Panel discussion.