The Patterson Westley Chamber of Commerce, at one time a very visible beacon of commerce on the West Side, is currently being restructured, and president Troy McMahan is taking the reigns by securing an office for the group.
McMahan has a vision, and wants to see the reformed Chamber of Commerce located in the former office of Dr. Steven Pittson. He also wants to include a regional tourism aspect to help promote all that the area has to offer.
As for the location, McMahan has already contracted a 10-year deal with US Bank to occupy a vacated portion of the building.
“Some superficial remodeling needs to be done,” McMahan said of the buildings’ structure, “and plans are already in the works to make the site ADA compliant.”
The Chamber of Commerce currently assists area businesses by providing training workshops, ribbon cutting ceremonies, social mixers where members can network and share ideas, as well as a coffee hour, and an annual Lobster Fest tentatively scheduled for September.
But securing the home base for operations is key and McMahan hopes that the 1,400 square foot office space adjacent to US Bank will be available in about six months.
However, McMahan knows that he won’t be able to get it done on his own, so he’s asked the city for help. During the May 6 city council meeting, McMahan approached the council and asked the city for a portion of the Transient Occupancy Tax— 20 percent to be exact.
Currently, the city collects roughly $100,000 a year in T.O.T. taxes from folks who travel through the city that stay at either the Best Western Hotel, or the Kit Fox R.V. park, both located off Interstate-5 at the Villa Del Lago complex.
With 25 percent of those taxes already being allocated to the county, McMahan is asking for roughly $15,000 a year.
“The T.O.T. tax is something that the city is collecting for services that a Chamber of Commerce would provide, but the money is just going into the general fund,” McMahan said Tuesday, May 13.
He and members of the new chamber will be back in front of the council during the Tuesday, May 20 meeting, asking for action on the item to secure the desired funding and to seek the support of the community.
US Bank is already on board in helping to get the new chamber on their feet, offering the group a great deal, allowing them to lease the space for only $1 a year for the first five years, and 50 percent of a fair market value for the following five years.
If everything goes according to plan at the US Bank site, and the desired funding comes in from the T.O.T., McMahan hopes to use that funding to help staff the site with a part-time employee as well as utilize volunteers from the Center for Human Services.
While upgrades and improvements are being made to the US Bank site, McMahan and members of the chamber are seeking an interim location for the time being and are considering occupying a vacated office in the Patterson Irrigator’s building on South Third Street.
The chamber’s virtual site however, is up and running strong via Facebook at https://facebook.com/patterson.chamber and http://www.pattersonwestleychamber.com.
Elias Funez can be reached at 209-568-9975 or firstname.lastname@example.org.