Business

Renton Chamber of Commerce kicks off capital campaign

Dignitaries and members of the Renton business community cut the ribbon in June on the new Renton Chamber of Commerce Headquarters and Visitors Center. - Brian Morrs
Dignitaries and members of the Renton business community cut the ribbon in June on the new Renton Chamber of Commerce Headquarters and Visitors Center.
— image credit: Brian Morrs

The Renton Chamber of Commerce has kicked off a capital campaign to pay off the mortgage for its new headquarters and visitor center at the historic train depot downtown.

Spearheading the campaign is John Galluzzo, whose vision about how to accomplish the deal led to the chamber’s purchase of property on South Fourth Street in March.

“While the chamber will own the building, it’s really kind of returning the asset to a city stakeholder and creates a visitors center that all of us can be proud of in a centralized downtown location, which was our goal,” Galluzzo said.

The chamber’s goal is to raise $300,000 – $275,000 to pay off the building’s mortgage and $25,000 for a cash reserve.

Galluzzo and a committee will reach out to donors personally to raise the funds and have set up a system of tiered donations, starting with small ones and going all the way up $25,000.

As he plans the capital campaign – his first one – Galluzzo is sensitive to the tough times Renton businesses face today.

“We have developed many different sponsorship-level opportunities and many different ways for you to fund it,” he said.

Those payment options include automatic billing, so that a business can spread out the donation over time, he said.

“I am not asking for me,” he said. “I am asking for the chamber.”

There’s no set end to the campaign, although Galluzzo said Columbia Bank, which holds the mortgage note, will allow the chamber to reamortize the loan, such as changing its amount, in its first two years at no cost.

At the same time, the chamber is working through some issues related to the title to the property, including easement rights. Those issues will take time to resolve, he said.

The total cost of the chamber property was about $840,000. The chamber had saved about $210,000 for a down payment and had also received $175,000 from the city’s lodging tax that’s designed to support the tourist industry.

The chamber also will sell the kitchen building used by the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train to Rain City Catering, as part of making the purchase work financially.

Galluzzo said it’s not essential that the chamber pay off its mortgage immediately.

“But the bottom line is there’s a very disturbing trend in chambers which is they are going by the wayside,” he said. “They start to see their revenues drop.

“What they should know better is that the last thing a business does when their revenues start to drop is panic and make short-term decisions that seal their fate,” he said.

Paying off or reducing the mortgage will help the chamber reduce its monthly expenses, he said.

For more information contact Galluzzo, a Farmers Insurance agent in Renton, at (425) 226-9239 or by email at jgalluzzo@farmersagent.com

 

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