2021 was an ongoing exercise in adaptability and resiliency

This past year has been one like no other — full of challenges, hardships and uncertainty. However, it was underscored by remarkable resilience, much of that apparent in the day-to-day activities of Tri-City Regional Chamber members. Throughout 2021, we continued to adapt by helping businesses withstand changes due to the pandemic as it continues to make its mark on how we do business.

Please enjoy learning more about the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, our initiatives, priorities, and highlights from this past year.

Workforce and education

The regional chamber partnered with the Association of Washington Business (AWB), Battelle, Columbia Basin College and Washington State University Tri-Cities to launch the Washington Workforce Portal. The online platform, which connects students across the state with real-world work-based learning opportunities, was launched as a pilot program in only two markets: Tri-Cities and Spokane. Visit WashingtonWorkforcePortal.org for more information.

Advocacy

The regional chamber continues to be an advocate for the Tri-Cities business community and a strong and credible voice in the local and state Legislature. Last January, the chamber launched “Session Spotlight,” a weekly online video series highlighting legislative happenings that were relevant to businesses in the region. During the election season, the 2021 Vote for Business Candidate Questionnaire and Candidate Forums provided Tri-Citians the only business-focused voter’s guide in the region. Over the past year, the chamber has taken positions on a variety of issues and written (or signed onto) 31 position letters to leaders at the national, state and local levels.

To read those letters or find more information about the chamber’s advocacy efforts, visit TriCityRegionalChamber.com/business-advocacy.

Programs

The chamber offered the local business community a valuable set of programs throughout 2021. “Ask the Experts,” a virtual series of free business-related webinars, connected 3,200 viewers with experts on important topics, such as human resources, taxes and more. Now in its 11th year, the Small Business Incentive Program helped strengthen our region by providing 30 small businesses $1,000 grants to purchase key products or services.

Additionally, two local second-stage businesses were selected to participate in the chamber’s Economic Gardening program – providing them critical information related to their strategic growth. During the first half of the year, the chamber partnered with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) to offer the Confident Compliance program, featuring monthly virtual workshops that informed participants of important L&I-related topics, like protecting workers from Covid-19, creating an accident prevention program, overtime rules for workers, and more. Information on all the chamber’s business programs can be found at TriCityRegionalChamber.com/programs.

Tri-City businesses such as Free Culture Clothing rallied to open safely as the Covid-19 pandemic extended into 2021. (File photo)

PTAC

The regional chamber’s in-house Washington PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Center) counselor has been consistently providing guidance and government contracting counsel to small businesses throughout the region.

During what can be considered a very trying year for those in business, PTAC held more than 740 one-on-one counseling sessions with businesses in the region, resulting in 275 contract awards totaling nearly $40 million. PTAC assistance is available to all local businesses, regardless of chamber membership.

Visit TriCityRegionalChamber.com/ptac for more information.

Communications

The chamber’s communications department celebrated a major success in February, with the launch of the chamber’s new website. TriCityRegionalChamber.com now offers a refined look and enhanced functionality on smartphones. Additionally, the chamber’s presence on social media continues to grow, especially on Facebook (facebook.com/TriCityRegionalChamber), where it posts regular updates to the largest Facebook following of any chamber of commerce in the state.

Events

Throughout 2021, the chamber offered its members impactful events – both virtually and in-person. Nearly 3,500 people attended chamber events in 2021, such as the Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon, the Tri-Cities Diversity Summit and the chamber’s monthly membership luncheons. At those events, the chamber honored 20 businesses and individuals with Business on a Roll Awards, Tri-Cities Champion of Diversity Awards, Outstanding Member of the Month awards and more. Learn about upcoming Chamber events at TriCityRegionalChamber.com/events.

MyTRI 2030

Based on the belief that our collective future is enhanced through collaboration, myTRI 2030 is a regional visioning initiative with the fundamental goal to create a shared vision for the region and drive collaborative action. Over the last 18 months, the myTRI regional vision has been in good hands. Volunteer experts and practitioners in agriculture, education, energy, inclusion, life and prosperity have led the way – persevering through Covid by working and meeting via Zoom with determination to bring myTRI 2030 to fruition.

The Chamber’s Regional Affairs Committee is working closely with the Opportunity Area Council chairs to ensure considerable evidence of impact during 2022 as the myTRI councils focus on building teams and timelines to tackle transformative projects that will advance the quality of life for all Tri-Citians. If you would like to support, volunteer, or join the myTRI movement, visit the website today at myTRI2030.com.

The regional chamber is well positioned to adapt to the gravity of the current situation, and we’re focused on building for the future. We look forward to another year of working with you and for you; to generating fresh momentum together; and to overcoming any challenges ahead with renewed energy and creative ways of thinking.

Lori Mattson is president and CEO of the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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