Kelly Coughlin has been hired as the director of the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce, a role she seemed eager to fill.
Coughlin is originally from Arkansas but has lived in downtown Snoqualmie for the last three years after a friend convinced her to move to the Pacific Northwest. Shortly after she moved, she began working for the Mt. Si Food Bank as the executive director, a position in which she also worked with the chamber. In addition, Coughlin has a consulting company and has experience writing grants. She took over as chamber director July 23.
“I fell in love with this area three years ago when I moved here,” she said. “I love the history of this place, I love the people.”
On top of this, Coughlin said she ran a construction and real estate-flipping business in the San Francisco area and worked for a tech company in the 1990s during the first tech boom.
The chamber encompasses a broad geographic area and serves North Bend, Snoqualmie, Fall City and Preston. One of Coughlin’s goals is to increase networking among the communities through roundtable discussions and by hosting more after-hours events.
“What I envision is actually being more of a regional chamber where I will advocate for every single member,” she said.
Coughlin said she is doing a “listening tour,” spending a week in each town talking to residents and business owners about their hopes and concerns. Once this is finished, she will develop a strategy.
“Everyone knows about this place, it’s just making it a place that business can thrive,” she said.
Coughlin hopes to capitalize on the large number of sightseers and tourists who visit Snoqualmie Falls each year. Pulling them off the main roads and highways and into local businesses will be a priority.
Another large project she will tend to is the State Route-18 and I-90 interchange improvements, which the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is conducting. Coughlin sits on the stakeholders advisory group for the project, which she said affects not only the immediate area but the whole state’s economy due to the congestion and accidents on the interchange and SR-18.
Coughlin has experience working for Arkansas’ MetroPlan for 12 years, which she said dovetails into the current project.
“This is just kind of something that’s taking me the same direction,” she said.
Coughlin is the first full-time director the chamber has had in many years she said she’s looking forward to focusing on the needs of her clients. She said her slogan is to advocate, connect and educate.
Coughlin was selected from a pool of four applicants who chamber treasurer Earl Bell said were all excellent but Coughlin rose to the top.
“Speaking on behalf of the entire board, we are thrilled to have Kelly serving as our new director,” he said.
Having a full-time director was a benefit Bell also recognized and he hopes it will allow the chamber to continue expanding and connecting businesses among its various communities.