Letter to the editor: Clarifying financial situation of Edmonds Chamber of Commerce

Dear Editor,

At the Edmonds City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 7, during the council’s discussion of the awarding of grants in the Edmonds Rescue Plan Fund, comments were made regarding the finances of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce. These comments paint an incomplete picture of the chamber’s current financial situation and future outlook.

Like many businesses and non-profits, the chamber has faced significant financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our primary fundraiser, Taste Edmonds, is our main source of revenue to cover the overhead for our annual operations. This includes the resources to produce the many free community events; such as, An Edmonds Kind of 4th Parade and Fireworks, Edmonds Classic Car Show, Tree Lighting Ceremony, and Halloween Trick-or-Treat. With the cancellation of Taste Edmonds in 2020 due to COVID-19 (in addition to other community events), the community stepped up in a big way with contributions to “An Edmonds Kind of Hero” campaign. This campaign, along with PPP funding, generated enough funding for the Chamber to continue operating into the summer, when we planned for our primary fundraiser, Taste Edmonds. Again, this annual featured event is what provides a significant amount of the funding needed for the operation of the chamber.

When we made the “go” decision to move forward with Taste Edmonds in mid-June 2021, things were looking very positive for the event (to be held Aug.20-22, 2021). Unfortunately, the chamber faced many challenges in getting the event off the ground; from permit/contract delays, pandemic price hikes, supply chain issues and added restrictions/costs on the event. This added many hurdles and fees to an event that already costs over $150,000 to produce.

Unfortunately, Taste Edmonds did not provide the revenue that the chamber was depending upon, only netting approximately 25% of what was made in 2019. Since this revenue is vital to fund the chamber’s operations year-round, the path ahead into 2022 — and having the resources to stage future community events – is very challenging.

The chamber did not apply for the Edmonds Rescue Plan grant. As a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit, we have frequently been ineligible for funding targeted toward non-profits, where only 501(c)(3) organizations are eligible. We were so overwhelmed in planning the 4th of July and Taste Edmonds events on such short notice, that we failed to seek further clarification, as we now are aware that we were eligible. We do intend to apply for future funding, should a second round of the Rescue Plan become available.

The chamber is passionate about creating community building events to enrich our city and its citizens. Our very existence and the community events that are so beloved are at risk without finding alternative funding sources including grants, such as the Edmonds Rescue Plan, and fundraising campaigns. We are thankful for the community assistance in this goal.


Executive Committee, Edmonds Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

Rob Schwertley – Chair
Erika Barnett – 1st Vice Chair
Anne Penny – 2nd Vice Chair
Ava Dubno – Treasurer
Ralph Sanders – Secretary
Nancy Ekrem – Past Chair

  1. Did the 2021 event, which was basically oriented to adult participants only, produce enough revenue to cover the expenses of the event? As a citizen living in very close proximity to the FAC, where the event was held, I’d like to be reassured that the effects of the event on us locals is worth the impact such events have on us. Please don’t take this as criticism; as I generally get a kick out of these little neighborhood invasions and try to provide as much parking as I can for our visitors. I have good onsite parking so I’m not nearly as impacted as most of my neighbors by the events. My point in asking this question is that these events do greatly impact the comings and goings of the inhabitants close by and it would be a shame to continue anything that was negative to you in financial impact. The Bell Street Neighbors are all pretty good loyal Edmonds folk and don’t mind taking one for the team, so to speak, but we do want every effort to be made to make the events productive and beneficial to everyone, especially families, when using the FAC.

  2. First I want to say this years 4th of July Parade was the best one in 30 years. So you had trouble with the city getting permits? Just build a plastic wood structure and you will be good to go with the city. The city should be bending over backward to help the Chamber out. I do have to say I think it was a bad move to make the Taste for only those over 21 years old. You just cut a lot of folks out of stopping by and spending money. I also think your entry fee is out of line. I went to the first Taste and I believe it was free, there was Crazy Lobster, Olson’s, and a handful of others. Those were fun for the whole family.

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