“Visiting and doing business in Tokeland almost always leaves people personally ‘touched’ through the experience,” said Sandy Prosser, secretary of the Tokeland/North Cove Chamber of Commerce. “We like to say that Tokeland ‘chooses’ people who want to join this community, because of our awe-inspiring natural beauty, cultural heritage, and things to do outdoors.”

But how to get the word out and responsibly develop the economic opportunity within this area? That’s the challenge handed to Pacific County’s Economic Development Council (PCEDC) through a grant from the Washington Department of Commerce, specifically to assemble overall economic and recreational development plans for the County.

Public meetings are being hosted throughout Pacific County to generate new ideas and inspiration for business and tourism development. At Tokeland on Jan. 18 in the northwest corner of the county, community residents and business leaders voiced optimism for growth through better leverage of existing resources and greater collaboration. Participants affirmed the region’s natural beauty and resource base as its core asset for residents and visitors alike, fueling the economic engines of the Shoalwater Bay Tribe and fishing and cranberry industries as well as a robust community of artists and carvers. Investment priorities voiced by the community included more effective tourism promotion, a locally-led food coop, and year-round farmers market, as well as specific needs for infrastructure and communications service improvements. Limited healthcare services, gaps in public transit, and affordable housing were noted as urgent challenges hindering growth.

Attention now shifts to Long Beach Peninsula with 5 p.m. meetings Feb. 8 and Feb. 28 at the Ilwaco Library Community Room, 151 1st Avenue N.

Participants at these Peninsula-focused meetings are invited to share similar perspectives on community strengths, economic foundations, and ideas for future growth. Pre-meeting interviews with residents already point to needs for infrastructure and facility improvements, including an events center and an expanded, connected trail system for walkers and bicycles.

“Actively engaging the public stimulates new ideas for entrepreneurship and investment,” PCEDC Director Jim Sayce said. “Community feedback helps prioritize funding by our towns, county, and state into business and tourism development.”

In addition to the February meetings focusing on the Peninsula, the public is invited to join meetings in Naselle, Bay Center, Menlo, South Bend, and Raymond. Upcoming meeting dates, times, and locations include:

• Feb. 28 in Ilwaco (5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Ilwaco Community Room, Ilwaco Library)

• March 15 in Naselle (5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Naselle Middle School Commons Room)

• April 19 in South Bend (5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Pacific County Commissioners Annex)

• May 10 in Raymond (5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Grays Harbor College Riverview Campus Room 110)

• May 31 in Menlo (5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Willapa Valley School Commons)

• June 28 in Bay Center (5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Faith Center Church)

For more information, contact Jim Sayce, director, Pacific County Economic Development Council (PCEDC) at 360-875-9330, or commmentsoedp@gmail.com or director@pacificedc.org

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