10 questions for new Bremerton chamber director Mike Strube

The Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce’s new Executive Director Mike Strube replaces Silvia Klatman, who held the post for nine years and left in December 2009. - Lynsi Burton/staff photo
The Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce’s new Executive Director Mike Strube replaces Silvia Klatman, who held the post for nine years and left in December 2009.
— image credit: Lynsi Burton/staff photo

The Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce’s new Executive Director Mike Strube began running the chamber Dec. 1, having stepped into the role after serving as membership director for about nine months. The Bremerton Patriot met with Strube last week to ask him about his thoughts on the business climate and his plans for Bremerton.

What is your vision for Bremerton businesses?

We worked really hard over the last few months on adding value to our membership, making sure people understood the value of their membership. We work a lot with the legislators and the other business associations around here to make sure that we’re providing a positive business environment for our members.

What are the greatest challenges Bremerton businesses are facing?

I think a lot of their challenges are they’re fighting with internet sales and things like that, a lot of people have gotten in the habit of shopping online. We’re really trying to focus on a shop local campaign and encouraging people to spend their money at home and keep their dollars close.

What do business owners want the chamber to do for them?

Really, it’s about networking, it’s about opening doors for people, allowing them to meet other business people in the community and encouraging them to shop with each other and keep those dollars local. We work really hard on bringing people together.

How do these translate into better business?

I think a lot of it is just awareness of what the services are in the area. We really encourage our members to shop with each other and to refer their friends to others and really drive the local economy that way.

What kind of businesses are you trying to attract to the chamber?

Obviously the larger businesses have bigger budgets for advertising and things like that so one of the things I focused on is to add a little bit of value to our lower ends of membership. We send out more e-mails for them now, we include more newsletter inserts. Anybody who wants me to put a blast out of Facebook to my fan page, all they gotta do is let me know and I’ll promote their event.

Is there still a future for growth in downtown Bremerton?

I think downtown has a lot of potential and we do have some great business owners down here that are doing quite well. I think that we just need a few more storefronts down here and a bit more retail and I think that downtown Bremerton could definitely turn around.

What kinds of businesses does downtown Bremerton need to attract?

I’d like to see a little bit more retail down here, a few more shops, interesting places for people to see. We’ve got a great antique shop, a couple of art galleries, we’ve got some great coffee shops down here and places to eat.

Is there still money in downtown development to pursue projects that have been talked about?

I think that a lot of that is going to really be up to the private businesses. It’s really going to take the small business and private business to come in and take advantage of the store fronts we’ve got down here.

How will the Manette Bridge’s construction and next year’s closure affect businesses?

I think once it’s all said and done it’s going to be a positive thing for everybody. I think it’s going to affect people on the Manette side a little bit more than the downtown businesses, but it’s definitely going to have a little bit of a negative affect once it closes.

Are businesses doing anything to prepare for the bridge closure?

I work a little bit with the Manette Business Association and they definitely have a game plan. Everyone talks about bridge closure specials and things like that. Everybody’s kind of just seeing what happens, I believe. We’re hoping that people don’t just disappear while it’s closed. I think if everybody shops local and keeps their money local, then everybody’s going to survive.

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