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New Chamber Director Says He'll Be Pro-Active in Promoting Local Business

Bruce Wynn was hired in late March and has long experience in small business and civic promotions.

 

The former school teacher, small businessman, fundraiser and neighborhood booster hired as Kirkland's new director says his approach will be inclusive and pro-active in promoting the city's stores, shops and companies.

Bruce Wynn says his approach will include ideas such as "Cash Mobs," "Clean Sweeps," mini-chamber groups to welcome new members, a focus on neighborhoods and intensive use of social media, blogging and the chamber web site. But he will as well continue traditional chamber approaches, such as organizing events and advocating for business-friendly public policies.

"Running a business is a challenge," he told a chamber luncheon Tuesday at Carillon Point's . "You're constantly thinking about it, it's a constant anxiety attack at night, you're thinking, why isn't this taking off. (I) realize that."

Wynn was hired last month as executive director of the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce, replacing with the vintage car show in Tacoma. Five days later he was wearing a derby hat and handing out fliers offering specials from downtown restaurants during Kirkland's Shamrock Run. That was the first example of Wynn's pro-active approach.

"The bottom line is to get merchants more business, more customers, into their businesses," he said.

Another example is the "Cash Mobs" Wynn is organizing, a twist on the "flash mob" phenomenon. The first was Wednesday at on Park Lane. The idea is to pick a specific business and time, and encourage the public to show up with at least $10 to spend at that business.

"Cash mobs are something new and popular around the country," he said. "It makes these businesses feel important. And when you have 100 people lining out the door, think what other businesses think when they see that."

A man of many hats, Wynn, a resident of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, has worked as a high school teacher, in public relations for the Port of Seattle -- at a time of controversy for the port -- and as an event manager for the American Lung Association and projects/education manager at University of Washington. He also started a successful pub and cafe in Ballard and most recently served as director of the Interbay Neighborhood Association.

Once a largely ignored industrial/rail yard area of Seattle, revitalizing the Interbay area became a project for Wynn because his home overlooks it and he realized "that area needed to be flipped. If you go there today you'll see cranes all over and 500 new apartments being built."

Wynn cited the use of social media by Ben Wobker, owner of downtown, in organizing from scratch last month's hugely  successful . Largely through networking techniques on Facebook, what will become an annual event registered more than 1,100 runners, who filled downtown bars and restaurants after the run -- and raised a significant amount of money for the chamber-affiliated Kirkland Downtown Association.

"Essentially (using social media and blogging) it's a way to keep a conversation, a dialogue, going," Wynn said, noting that he had already changed the focus of the chamber's newsletter (accessed on-line and via email) to featuring specific local businesses.

On other topics:

  • Wynn said the chamber should focus on neighborhoods, and one way is to organize events in them, such as a health fair in Juanita and tech fair in Houghton.
  • "Clean Sweeps" will use volunteers to clean up and decorate one local business at a time. "We're going to make your storefront look as nice and beautiful as it can be, he said.
  • Big issues the chamber will advocate for include finding solutions for downtown Kirkland's longtime parking problems, which meeting, and rezoning to encourage businesses to locate in Kirkland.

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