IN THE RING: Should the Keizer Chamber of Commerce move to Keizer Station and include a visitors center?

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Each week the Keizertimes asks community leaders a question about current events.  To see more of this week’s answers or answers to past questions log onto www.keizertimes.com and click on In the Ring.

This week’s question: Should the Keizer Chamber of Commerce move to Keizer Station and include a visitors center?

Marlene Quinn, event planner—
I would assume that most people would say ‘yes, the perfect place.’ Some would say ‘no, leave it where it is.’ If visitors coming to Keizer are visiting Keizer and not Keizer Station then they will go to the visitor center in Keizer.

Let’s promote Keizer and the city itself but let’s bring new businesses to the city and fill in the for lease buildings, I’m all for that however I think that we should leave it where it is and put directional signage at Keizer Station promoting the chamber of commerce, visitor center and the core of the city itself.

Keizer Station is only a small part of Keizer, let’s use its location to promote the city of Keizer.

John Morgan, MorganCPS Consulting—
I am not pleased to see the migration of our business community to Keizer Station. I am concerned to see some of the civic center move there as well. However, moving the chamber, creating a significant visitors center, and putting the space in the Keizer Heritage Center to better use as a museum or expanded gallery instead of office space all seem like good ideas to me. Thinking in terms of a “business plan” for Keizer, and recognizing that one of the important assets of the community is the [freeway] interchange traffic, these efforts capitalize on that market opportunity and hopefully will contribute to a more prosperous and livable Keizer.

Phil Bay, former city councilor—
I don’t think so.  You also can include a visitors center right where you are now, and keep your financial impact in check.

Jim Willhite and Pat Ehrlich, vice presidents, Gubser Neighborhood Association —
We believe locating a visitors center at Keizer Station would be most appropriate.  Keizer Station is now the main entrance off the interstate for the motoring public to our city.  It would be a natural place to advertise the many things to see and do here in Keizer as well as the Willamette Valley, the coastal area to the west of us and and the scenic mountains to the east.  With some signing the route to the visitors center should be easy to find.  We assume it would be a good move for the chamber of commerce to locate there also.  The chamber seems to be a natural fit for serving as our visitor information resource.

Jeanne Bond-Esser, chair, Keizer Parks Advisory Board—
I understand that there is some controversy about placing the chamber “out” at Keizer Station, since the chamber is supported overwhelmingly by the local River Road merchants — and apparently not supported by most of the out-of-town chains at the new shopping center. However, a visitors center should be placed where it has the most likelihood of attracting the attention of visitors — especially ones who might otherwise not come on into town — long enough to introduce them to the areas’ attractions.

The proposed transit center near Chemawa/Lockhaven sounds like a good site; Chemawa and Lockhaven both lead to River Road businesses.

However, I don’t think it is a good idea to place a visitor’s center down within Keizer Station.  (Until the signage is changed, its visitors are directed back to I-5 via a route that precludes coming on into town. Currently, the “To I-5” signs loop visitors south through the Chemawa Station area; from there, they can’t get to Keizer without heading east, going over the freeway, and turning around in Martha’s Pumpkin Patch to come home. About everybody I know has made this little maneuver!

JoAnne Beilke, member, Chemeketa Community College board—
The Keizer Chamber of Commerce or the City of Keizer should have a presence at Keizer Station.  The structure of the Keizer Chamber at this time is not ready to expand the visitors center.  The economy is hurting small businesses and membership is not strong enough to carry the financial load that will  be needed.

The Chamber has a vision of partnerships to make this happen.  The question is “Is this the role of the Chamber?”  Using the resources from Keizer business and citizens to attract visitors to Keizer.   To do what?

I believe the role of the Chamber is to support business.  A separate visitors or information center should be at Keizer Station, to form partnerships within the region to let citizens and visitors know what is happening.  A showcase of agriculture and wineries in the area would benefit product knowledge, and citizens in the area.  Keizer is not alone in economic development and jobs.

The Chamber could locate their office in Keizer Station for their business support mission.  To do both is going to take a lot of support financially from members and city tax money.   How this is to be formed should be explored with the real purpose (goal) in mind.  Again the hard question is what does Keizer have to offer to visitors?  If activities are here (sports, car, motorcycle rallies, church conventions)  then the purpose (goal) needs to clearly defined by tax dollars that use resources to have information ready for incoming participants.

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