After a decade of distributing information and planning special events in a room near the entrance of the police station, the Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce has moved into a new space with a spot at Timber Towne Coffee on Main Street.
“I think that being able to move to the coffee shop, honestly, gives us a really good space for community involvement,” chamber board president Alyssa Lewis said. “It’s a wonderful space for people to meet, to gather. It’s in an awesome location right in the middle of town; it gets lots of visibility.”
Timber Towne Coffee is located at 1427 Main St.
“It’s just a really warm, welcoming space to come into — not that the police station wasn’t but not everybody wants to come to the police station to get information,” Lewis added.
The chamber office resided in a red caboose off Main Street for 20 years until moving into the police station in 2011. The city offered the space to the chamber free of charge.
Lewis said the chamber is grateful for the years they spent there.
“We cannot thank the city and the police department enough for all of the years of support that they gave us at no cost,” she said. “I mean, that was a huge thing so we’re very thankful for them. But I think that this new collaboration with Timber Towne is just going to be a fantastic thing for us.”
Lewis said the police station needed the space.
“When Shelley (Niemann) was leaving the chamber, we were notified by the city and the police that the police department was in need of their room back so that they could have an interview room for children,” Lewis said. “So they’re going to be doing that to be able to have a safe space for kids for crisis situations.”
In these first few weeks at the new location, the chamber has seen an uptick in public interaction.
“We’ve already seen lots of brochures and community information taken, which is fantastic,” Lewis said. “It just gives, I think, more visibility for us.”
Lewis said another benefit with the new location is that the space doesn’t need to be staffed all the time for visitors looking for information. Situated on a wall on the east side of the building is a hanging brochure rack.
“We don’t have to have somebody in the office but we can still have all of the information out for people who come,” she said.
Visitors will find information on chamber members as well as tourism-related information that ranges from wineries in the vicinity to things to do on the coast.
As for who will be staffing the office in the future, it’s currently the responsibility of interim director Lisa Watkins. But the board will have a discussion on a possible permanent solution early next year.
“At this time, we don’t really have a for-sure direction that we’re going,” Lewis said. “At this point, we’re waiting for our annual meeting in January to really make a decision on what we want to do.”
Watkins, who had been on the board, stepped away from that role to wear the director’s hat following Niemann’s departure.
“Lisa has expressed some interest in staying, so just as a board, we’re going to meet and decide if we would like for her to continue doing that, if she’s willing to continue to do that and if it fits her life and what we’re needing,” Lewis said. “Right now we’re not really sure what we need, especially with just moving into Timber Towne — we’re kind of still figuring that out. But we’ll know more in January.”
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