The Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce, which serves the cities of Tukwila, SeaTac, Burien and Des Moines with its 375 business members, soon will have a new leader.
Nancy Hinthorne, chamber president and chief executive officer, will retire April 15 after 12 years on the job. The chamber’s board of directors expects to choose a new president by late February who will start in April.
Hinthorne manages the operations of the three-employee office in Tukwila. She also strives to grow membership and works closely with chamber members, the general business community as well as government and school district officials.
Working with more than one city has turned out well for the chamber.
“We don’t divide the municipalities, we’re a united group,” Hinthorne said. “We work with the individual cities, but we are a solid group.”
The Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce formed in 1989 when business groups from Tukwila, Burien and SeaTac joined together. Des Moines businesses joined the organization in 2006.
The number of members has held steady at about 375.
“We’ve been hit by the recession just as most businesses,” Hinthorne said. “The membership ranges. But it’s at 375 strong now.”
Hinthorne said the proximity of each city to Sea-Tac Airport has helped tie the businesses in each city together through the Chamber.
“It’s allowed members to see business people from other communities,” she said. “And they also are aware of what’s going on in each city.”
Approximately 80 percent of chamber members are small businesses of 10 or fewer employees, Hinthorne said. The membership also includes large employers such as Boeing, Alaska Airlines, Valley Medical Center and Highline Medical Center.
New businesses continue to join the organization.
“Usually a business wants to belong for the exposure to other businesses in the area,” Hinthorne said. “They get to meet other business people for that face-to-face recognition.”
Businesses receive plenty of opportunities to mix, mingle and learn at chamber events including membership luncheons, networking breakfasts, a summer golf tournament, business after hours, a business showcase and trade show, a college scholarship fundraiser for high school seniors and other activities.
The breakfasts, luncheons and after-hour gatherings are rotated among various businesses that offer to host the events.
“It gives them an opportunity to advertise their business,” Hinthorne said.
The chamber often lines up speakers about regional issues for the monthly membership luncheons. Joni Earl, Sound Transit executive director, spoke at the Feb. 11 luncheon about the impacts of budget cuts to projects in Southwest King County. Don Brunell, president of the Association of Washington Business, is scheduled to speak at the chamber’s next luncheon, March 11, at Highline College in Des Moines.
City mayors and council members also attend many of the meetings.
“Members get a chance to meet elected officials outside of city hall,” Hinthorne said.
The chamber office is at 14220 Interurban Ave. S., Suite 134, in Tukwila. For more information, go to www.swkcc.org or call the chamber at 206-575-1633.