Martin leads effort to replace defunct chamber

By Scott D. Johnston

For the Grays Harbor News Group

Early last summer, it had been barely four months since the tragic death in the surf of former Ocean Shores/North Beach Chamber of Commerce president Jeff Daniel, when the organization dissolved in a spectacle of financial problems, board disputes and finger pointing. Now, seven months later, the groundwork has been laid for a new “Ocean Shores Business Association.”

A group of around 45, mostly members of the local business community, met Feb.18 at the Polynesian Inn and voted to create and name the entity, and to look into working with the Ocean Shores Marketing Co-op.

Ocean Shores City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Jon Martin, who also owns Martin Bruni Liquor and is general manager of McDonald’s for Grays Harbor, led the discussion, and has been working for several months to build support for a new organization to replace the chamber.

“There are a lot of things we are missing in our business community right now,” Martin said, including “communication, working together and having all of you know what’s going on.”

And he noted that the business community is not really being represented in things like the city’s “Deep Dive” look at the local economy. Although he was a participant, “there was not a lot of business involvement. Part of the problem is that when you have a meeting at 1 p.m. on a Wednesday, a lot of businesses are open for business and you don’t have the time to walk away.”

In contrast, Martin said the 5 p.m. meeting at the Polynesian “had a full room 45 to 50 people that I think represented all parts of our town — retail, hotels, restaurants, service, artist, citizens, non-profits, banks, city, radio, TV and newspaper. People who have just moved here and those who remember the early days.”

A significant element may be the local Marketing Co-Op, which has been organizing and promoting the Ocean Shores 50th Anniversary Celebration and previously has developed several advertising and promotional campaigns for Ocean Shores. Members of the group noted the Co-Op already is charted as a nonprofit and has a website as well as social media presence, which would fit with some of the needs of the new business association.

The group at the meeting listed several items that need to be addressed in the short and long term, including accounting, a governing body, meeting place and schedule, contact list, internal communications, a website, a mission statement, a charter, a manager, legal status, office space, funding, membership and more.

In a follow-up email, Martin wrote, “The next steps are to get those who expressed interest in being part of the steering committee together to work on the formation of the Ocean Shores Business Group.

“This is an opportunity to create something together and we are very much open to creating a sustainable organization that can help our business community be successful. If you have additional thoughts or suggestions, please let us know.”

Martin can be reached by email at