Pat Schmidt, a longtime Gig Harbor resident and business owner, recently was named the chair of the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.
A chamber member for nine years through her business, DPI Print, Schmidt has served on the board for more than four years.
Outgoing chair Ray Grinberg, who handed over the reins last month, introduced Schmidt as a “fireball with clear and contagious vision” during a luncheon.
“Being part of the board allows me to make a greater difference to the community,” Schmidt said. “My children are gone, and it was time in my life to step up and give my time to help businesses and our community in a new and different way.
“The chamber is a great organization for businesses,” she said. “We foster networking, help promote events and give residents an idea of which businesses and services are available in the community.”
The chamber has worked this year to educate members on the value they get through the chamber with services, events and other opportunities it provides, chamber president Warren Zimmerman said.
“Pat is striving for the chamber to be an umbrella over the city districts and look out for their welfare,” Zimmerman said. “She wants to be unified with the goal of helping all individual businesses thrive, using all available resources and looking for ways to collaborate.”
Schmidt said she’s proud of her role as part of the Trolley Committee.
“It was a huge partnership with the City of Gig Harbor, chamber, DWA (Downtown Waterfront Alliance), Uptown and Pierce Transit,” Schmidt said of the demonstration project this summer. “All the organizations in the community came together to help make it happen. It was an amazing opportunity to coordinate together.
“We had one month from its inception to bringing it to fulfillment,” she said. “All the entities came together financially and contributed to make it happen.”
Pierce Transit plans to bring the trolley service back to Gig Harbor next year, from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.
Schmidt hopes to keep up the collaborative effort and said it’s part of the chamber’s role to continue to market businesses.
“We can all do more together,” she said. “It’s important to work together creatively to promote a healthy business community.
“When new businesses see Gig Harbor has a collaborative spirit, businesses will choose to come here to start a company,” Schmidt said. “The big picture is, when we work together, we grow the community.”
Schmidt’s hopes to continue to strengthen the chamber and connect with the community.
“We have a great team of people working to bring Gig Harbor to the next level,” she said. “We want to show growth opportunities to businesses, such as working to implement ideas from this summer’s UW Studio Storefront (project). There’s a great opportunity to incorporate beauty and balance. As the stewards for Gig Harbor, we want to keep the heart and soul of the city but make improvements for the next generation by using what we have to move forward with healthy growth.”
Schmidt sees this as being is the time to bring to fruition many concepts and ideas the University of Washington’s Storefront Studio project brought to the city.
Schmidt also would like to work to obtain a grocery store for downtown and a fuel dock.
“The goal is to find the right people with the right ideas to make it happen for the harbor,” she said.
“The chamber wants Gig Harbor to be healthy and growing,” Schmidt added. “We want to encourage residents to support downtown businesses, and recognize the need to help them promote health and vitality of a community.”
The chamber has 500 business members, and it continues to look for ways to do community outreach. Residents and businesses can visit the chamber’s website, www.gigharborchamber.net, to add events or find out what is going on in the community.
The chamber is working with the Gig Harbor campus of Tacoma Community College to add an education component.
“We will be doing a series on how to do business and what it takes to get a business thriving from specialists in the area,” Schmidt said.
The chamber will end the year with its annual banquet next month. It will be a masked ball at Canterwood Golf & Country Club, where awards will be given for citizen, business and nonprofit leaders of the year.
Schmidt, board members and committees are working on events for next year, including the chamber’s primary event, the Maritime Gig Festival. Gig Harbor’s largest event draws almost 20,000 people.
The chamber also has plans to work with the Downtown Waterfront Alliance’s Wine and Food Festival next summer.
“A healthy community is a healthy chamber,” Schmidt said. “Our focus is on retention and engagement for all businesses in the harbor.”