It’s a new year, with a new view in SLU. Say hello to Curt Archambault, recently elected president of the South Lake Union Chamber of Commerce.
What’s it take to be a good chamber prez? Well, like many who move to SLU and join the chamber board, Archambault is a red-hot SLU booster. As a SLU resident and business professional himself, he brings excitement about the neighborhood and decades of experience…in his case, 30+ years of training and development in the restaurant field, followed by a departure into consulting. Working with People and Performance Strategies NW, a human resources firm focused on optimizing personal/professional performance for individuals and teams, he now helps clients engage and develop their workforce through customized success-building workshops, team and personal trainings, and internal relationship creation. All skills, by the way, which he brings to his new role on the chamber.
Growing up as a military kid and living abroad where he had German relatives, Archambault grew to admire the European lifestyle. “Like walking where you need to go, buying what you need for dinner that day, shopping local, dining local,” he said. Those components attracted him to urban living in the U.S. His wife Carla, a native Washingtonian, initially held a dim view of urban living, but all that changed when she took a management gig in downtown Seattle. “She instantly fell in love with the lifestyle, and we made a commitment that when the kids were gone, we were moving from suburbia.”
By 2002, the couple had sold their home in Puyallup, found themselves part of the original owners’ group at 2200 and were discovering metropolitan pleasures. They shop at Whole Foods, spend time at South Lake Union Park, the Center for Wooden Boats, MOHAI, and enjoy a host of SLU restaurants. They can walk together to work or the downtown retail core. “We often thought we would find our neighborhood restaurant where they would know us, like Norm from Cheers.” he said, “But we found there are too many options. We like to try a little of everything.” The couple plans to stay at 2200 through their senior years.
Booster for the Future
But a pleasant lifestyle is only half the story for Archambault. “As a new business owner, it was important to find ways to build my business,” he said. At his wife’s suggestion – she works for Zipcar and is a chamber member herself – he began attending meetings to kick-start networking. “I liked the fact that it was a small chamber but with great companies. Just through participating in events and getting to know folks, I was approached about joining the board. The next thing I know, I’m on the executive committee as the VP.” As the clock ticked over to 2015, he assumed the role of president.
Following his professional strengths, Archambault likes to facilitate, collaborate, get things moving, and identify solutions to problems. “What I really like to do is help people become what they’re striving to become and eliminate barriers getting in their way,” he said.
The chamber has a number of initiatives underway, with growth, communication, and value as targets. Goals include building membership, producing value-added events for members, improving transit service to the neighborhood and reducing single-occupant vehicle commutes there. A business retention and expansion partnership with the City of Seattle is in the works, too.
“My thoughts on why businesses should locate in SLU can be couched in the saying ‘Build it and they will come,’” says Archambault. “That’s happening in SLU. All one has to do is look at the skyline and you can see all the construction cranes.”
That booster spirit creeps into his voice as he considers the future. “South Lake Union today is a vibrant community with a diverse population of residents, services, businesses and nonprofits. The companies that want to be at the center of it all would do well to bring their brand to the SLU community. I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg as to what SLU is going to become – and now is the time to be part of the excitement.”
Learn more about the South Lake Chamber of Commerce, its many interests and benefits of membership at: www.sluchamber.org.