The president and CEO of the Puyallup-Sumner Chamber of Commerce split from the organization at the end of March in what both parties say was “mutually beneficial.”
Shelly Schlumpf was president of the organization for eight years, spearheading business events to support economic development within Puyallup and Sumner.
“I have truly enjoyed my eight years at the Chamber, especially the people and relationships established during my time there as president and CEO,” Schlumpf said. “My passion for the Puyallup, Sumner and east Pierce County business communities is genuine and heartfelt.”
But Schlumpf’s passion tugged in the direction of consulting and regional economic development, and she felt she’d outgrown her position.
“You just get to the point where you go, ‘You know, I think we’re going in different directions,’” Schlumpf said.
Schlumpf has now started her own consulting business called Main Street Elements, or MSE LLC, and is currently formulating her own projects.
“I’m kind of doing the same things that I was doing at the Chamber, just more focused on (regional) economic development and recruitment,” Schlumpf said.
“For our local communities, we care about living wage jobs,” Schlumpf continued. “So we want to look at creating living-wage jobs, then creating quality development that will stand the test of time.”
Schlumpf used one of Sumner's new businesses, Cummins Sales and Services, as an example of what she'd like to see in the area — businesses where the majority of the workforce lives in the South Sound area. Schlumpf said she plans to divulge more information about her specific projects when she has more definitive information.
With Schlumpf focused on regional development projects, the Chamber of Commerce is taking the opportunity to change the president/CEO position to an interim executive director position and focus more directly on member services. An interim executive director has not yet been named.
“In the meantime, the board has taken over management of a lot of all of the regular functions of the Chamber, continuing on as expected,” board member Charla Neuman said. “Shelly was excellent at regional issues, and we want to maintain a lot of that, but there will be more direct discussion with the members for services that may have more of a direct impact on them.”
As to the form of that direct impact, that’ll be one of the duties for the executive director, but Neuman said members can expect to see more “hands-on conversations” with members and larger events like the Chamber’s brand new Fourth of July event to bring a more local focus.
“In terms of the public, I doubt they’ll notice much of a difference except for when we get a new executive director we expect there to be a greater increase on membership services,” Neuman said.
Schlumpf said she wishes the Chamber of Commerce the best of luck but anticipates she’ll still be working with many of its members.
“My career change is mutually beneficial for the Chamber and myself, and I fully expect to continue working with our local business communities in my capacity as an independent consultant,” Schlumpf said.