On July 15th and 16th, Joint Base Lewis McChord hosted JAWE, a Joint Airshow and Warrior Expo. This event was the first of its kind hosted on the base in seven years and was an important opportunity to connect our local military with the surrounding South Sound community. Military service members and their families are a significant and vital portion of our local population, and JBLM plays a major role in our regional economy. Events like these showcase the skill and dedication of our local service members and give citizens the chance to interact, understand, and appreciate our local military community.
Our Chamber CEO/President Andrea Reay was honored to have been invited to attend this airshow and expo. While there, she was able to view demonstrations from Team McChord’s own 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, the C-17 West Coast Demonstration Team, and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. It was also a great opportunity for networking and building partnerships with our service members and military leaders.
Thank you to JBLM for inviting our Chamber to participate in this landmark event! View photos below!
As a family man, Troy Alstead saw a problem. Children’s birthday parties were plenty of fun for kids, but the same couldn’t be said for the parents. There is only so much cardboard pizza, tiny plastic chairs, and fluorescent lighting an adult can handle.
As a businessman, and former chief operating officer at Starbucks, he saw an opportunity.
Why couldn’t children and adults both have a good time at birthday parties? Shouldn’t there be a place for a community where everyone can come together to have a good time regardless of their age?
On business trips overseas, Alstead had seen an inspiring concept: multi-purpose centers that brought communities together to experience a variety of activities and entertainment under one roof. If this idea could work abroad, why not also in Gig Harbor?
While age-inclusive entertainment was the central idea, another lifelong passion of Alstead’s would come to play an equally important role in the development of this concept: protecting and caring for our oceans.
From this surprising combination, Ocean5 was born.
Listen to Ocean5 general manager Sarah Michael on the latest episode of Making It in the South Sound!
Since opening in the spring of 2018, Ocean5 has welcomed thousands of visitors through its doors. The entertainment center draws guests not only from Gig Harbor, but from all over the Puget Sound, for bowling, arcade games, laser tag, live music, restaurant offerings, and much more.
Ocean5 has truly become a choose-your-own-adventure experience of entertainment, while never straying far from its goal of protecting the ocean.
The name Ocean5 comes from the fact that there are five oceans on the planet. Similarly, the on-site restaurant, Table 47, is named in honor of Gig Harbor being located on the 47th parallel geographically.
The connection to the ocean and passion for sustainable business practices goes much further than a name.
General manager Sarah Michael shares that a big part of the environmental effort at Ocean5 is to “educate quietly by the practices we do as a company.” This mentality can be found in every area of how the business is run: from the building’s architecture itself, to product sourcing, to events and education.
The Ocean5 complex is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certified building. Inside, it houses many unique and ingenious details that incorporate sustainability into everyday operations. The building uses creative “solar tubes” to fill the space with natural light during the daytime and reduce electricity use. Rather than a traditional free fall and mechanical arm method for re-setting pins on the bowling alleys, Ocean5 uses a recent technology called a string pinsetter that is much more energy efficient.
When it comes to sourcing products for the center, whether for the restaurant’s kitchen or arcade prizes, sustainability is also a high priority. Table 47 takes a hyper-local approach to ingredients whenever possible. This can be seen reflected in its bar menu full of local, sustainably produced spirits.
Ocean5 has found a way to make sustainability not just background noise, but part of the entertainment itself. It hosts educational series for kids featuring mascots that share lessons on good environmental practices. Events throughout the year such as bingo and trivia nights contribute proceeds to local organizations helping the ocean and environment.
Sustainability at Ocean5 is a concept that applies to more than just the planet.
“We also want to sustain our staff, and so we look at training and how we engage with our staff as also a practice of sustainability,” says Sarah Michael.
For many employees of Ocean5, it’s their first time entering the workforce. The goal, says Michael, is to retain these employees and grow their leadership and confidence until they potentially go to college, trade school, or enter another industry.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Michael credits the company culture and values that were present from day one as a reason Ocean5 was able to survive. While it had to temporarily downsize its workforce to a small core team throughout the pandemic, it was able to re-hire 60 former employees upon reopening. Michael sees the culinary and kitchen staff as the biggest testament to success in sustainable staffing, as 90% of the same staff remained with Ocean5 throughout COVID. Ocean5 has emerged from the pandemic with an even stronger commitment to its employees, finding new ways to build leadership and take care of one another.
While Ocean5 may be a local leader in environmentally friendly business practices, it isn’t doing the work alone. Michael states that community partnerships play a key role in the business’s sustainability practices. This includes everything from sourcing ingredients from local farms to philanthropy events with environment-focused nonprofits. Additionally, its leadership expects environmental sustainability to be one of the next big issues facing businesses in the near future.
For businesses wondering how to even begin to think about sustainability, Michael says it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. She recommends starting with just a couple of changes that can make a difference rather than a complete overhaul. This can be as simple as encouraging staff to use reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic, or participating in a company beach cleanup. And, as Ocean5 has done, building community relationships with organizations already doing the work, and seeing how you can help. You just might find the opportunities run as deep as the ocean.
This Member Feature story is part of a series by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber to promote stronger connections and increased engagement between the Chamber, its members, and the local business community. Member stories are non-promotional opportunities to share members' business stories with the community. If you are a Chamber member interested in being featured for a story, please contact Digital Marketing Manager Audrey Widner at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Friday, July 14th, we joined Inta Vintage in Sumner to celebrate the grand re-opening of all three floors of their retail store! This local business is the place to look for all your vintage goods, from furniture to clothing to music! We were honored to help this Chamber member celebrate this important business milestone with a ribbon-cutting. Thank you to everyone who joined us at this exciting community event!
View a photo recap below!
This past Thursday, July 13th, we held our monthly Chamber After Hours at El Gaucho in Downtown Tacoma. This was an engaging night of networking full of familiar faces, delicious food, and new connections! Thank you to El Gaucho for hosting our Chamber and providing such great food, drinks, and giveaway prizes!
View photos from the event below!
On Thursday, July 6th, our Chamber joined with community partners to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new major road for East Pierce County. The New Rhodes Lake Road East will connect Orting, Puyallup, and Sumner to Bonney Lake and Buckley by providing an arterial connection between the Bonney Lake Plateau and the Orting Valley. This project will result in new critical infrastructure for the transportation of Pierce County residents, materials, and services, as well as opening up new opportunities for recreation. This in turn will lay the foundation for increased economic growth in East Pierce County.
Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber President/CEO Andrea Reay attended the groundbreaking ceremony in the Tehaleh community near Bonney Lake alongside community leaders from Pierce County, Brookfield Properties, and other partners. Elected officials in attendance included Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier and Pierce County Council members Dave Morrell and Paul Herrera.
Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier stated at the event “New Rhodes Lake Road East will be a significant transportation improvement for East Pierce County. The corridor provides infrastructure needed to improve quality of life, create business opportunities and enhance community safety.”
"New Rhodes Lake Road is the last critical piece of infrastructure needed to efficiently move goods, services and employees between East Pierce County, the Port of Tacoma and the I-5 corridor,” said Dave Morrell, Pierce County Councilmember for District 1.
According to Scott Jones, senior vice president at Brookfield Properties, the construction of this new road is already generating interest from businesses looking to relocate near Telahleh.
The plan for this $150 million project was established in 2008 by Pierce County Ordinance 2008-28s and the funding for the new road’s construction comes from Tehaleh traffic mitigation funds. The road is anticipated to be completed and open for traffic by the spring of 2027.
View photos from the groundbreaking event below!
The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and Pierce County Economic Development recently celebrated the graduation of Cohorts 12 and 13 of the Pierce County Business Accelerator! Over the past 6 weeks, these cohorts of local entrepreneurs and business owners have been hard at work engaging in trainings, coaching, technical support, and networking to accelerate their businesses.
Our Chamber is honored to have played a role in the Pierce County Business Accelerator from the beginning as the program administrator, in partnership with Pierce County. The Pierce County Business Accelerator serves entrepreneurs and business owners throughout Pierce County with a focus on BIPOC, veteran, and women-owned businesses to help foster innovation and create wealth-building opportunities. Congratulations to these amazing groups of graduates!
View photos from the Cohort 12 & 13 graduations below, and learn more about the Pierce County Business Accelerator at www.pcba.biz!
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