Puyallup Herald

Tacoma business owner takes reins as new CEO of Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce

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Tara Doyle-Enneking has been hired as the new CEO of the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce.

Doyle-Enneking, 50, lives in Tacoma and co-owns a small business there with her husband, Mike.

“I really felt like from Day 1 walking into (the Chamber) office that this is my role and meant to be,” said Doyle-Enneking.

Former CEO Shelly Schlumpf split amicably with the Chamber in March to pursue her own consulting business. The position has been vacant since then.

In the eight months after Schlumpf, the Chamber board surveyed its existing members and searched for a replacement CEO.

The board chose Doyle-Enneking out of nine applicants.

“She has a small business herself. She knows what a person goes through with a small business,” said Patty Denny, chair of the Puyallup-Sumner Chamber Board.

After 17 years owning Goodfella’s Motor Co. in Tacoma, Doyle-Enneking felt a tug toward a leadership position to advocate for the business community.

In 2015, Doyle-Enneking ran for Tacoma City Council with the intent to bring a voice for business to the podium but lost in the August primary. She was instead asked to sit on the board of directors for the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce.

“That’s truly what started and led me here,” she said.

In 2017, she became the executive director of the Tacoma Pierce County Business Alliance, where she continues to serve today.

When she submitted her application for the Puyallup-Sumner Chamber CEO position, the needs of business owners caught her attention.

“Through one of their recent Chamber member surveys, (the Chamber) discovered that more of a recent demand for this community is to have more business and political advocacy,” Doyle-Enneking said.

Washington State Fair CFO and Chamber board member Renee McClain said she thinks Doyle-Enneking will grow Chamber’s reach.

“With her high energy and passion, and at this point in her career, she’s going to take all of that and not only elevate our Chamber but the entire community,” McClain said.

Currently, there are 340 members of the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce — significantly lower than it has been in previous years, said Doyle-Enneking. She hopes to double that number by next year.

Doyle-Enneking sees her role as CEO through three lenses:

  1. Expanding business outreach and connecting businesses through collaborative events.

  2. Educating business owners on topics such as new paid sick leave or vacation policies or providing promotion help through social media.

  3. Being a political advocate for the wants and needs of business owners.

“You’re going to need someone representing this Chamber that is writing those letters and showing up at hearings and testifying to Council, meeting city managers and making sure it’s very clear why we would support or be opposed to policy we’re hearing about,” Doyle-Enneking said.

For now, Doyle-Enneking wants to listen the needs of the community.

Already, she’s starting to develop a sense of what those might be.

“I’m starting to hear that permitting is a common theme,” she said, adding that one of her potential pursuits could be to define a clear permitting pathway for local businesses.

Another idea is to create a localized economic development board for Puyallup and Sumner.

Her door, she said, is always open at the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce office, 323 N Meridian in Puyallup.

Doyle-Enneking received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and her master’s degree from Pacific Lutheran University.

She lives in Salmon Beach with her husband and has four children and soon-to-be four grandchildren.

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