Time for a pep talk

Faced with declining business in the past two years, Langley merchant Beverly Monte Calvo is taking action.

Monte Calvo, an owner of Frankie’s Clothing Co. on Anthes Avenue, and her business partner and brother-in-law, Frank Monte Calvo, are spearheading an effort to bring a business conference to South Whidbey in November. After researching ideas and techniques on the Internet to improve business and boost the local economy, Beverly Monte Calvo said they found a qualified speaker to motivate local professionals in hopes of getting out of the slumps felt by city merchants.

“Primarily, we started in on this because Langley needed a shot in the arm,” she said.

Declining business for Langley merchants has also meant declining sales tax revenue for the city of Langley. Monte Calvo said the situation prompted her to seek outside advice. That advice will come from Jon Schallert, who teaches one-day workshops around the county focused on retaining existing businesses, recruiting new businesses and re-motivating a local business economy.

“We’re looking for someone to come here with a totally objective eye,” Monte Calvo said.

Schallert will instruct at a one-day conference Nov. 3 at Useless Bay Golf and County Club.

Despite the large undertaking, Monte Calvo said she hopes the seminars will pay off for everyone who attends. She said Schallert only holds one seminar in a state every year; Langley was chosen from a large group of applicants.

The event will also be open to residents of neighboring counties and states, which Monte Calvo hopes will turn the event into an economic generator in itself for the slow month of November. One group from Chehalis has already called to attend — even though the city had already sent a group to another Schallert presentation.

In order for planning to continue for the conference, Monte Calvo said she is accepting sponsors and participants for the event. She estimated approximately $17,000 will need to be raised to cover several fees not including the conference itself.

Some of that money she said might come from the Langley-South Whidbey Chamber of Commerce, the Langley Merchants Association and the Island County Economic Development Council. Businesses who wish to donate in-kind gifts can also do so. Sponsors to the event will be given a free pass to attend.

Loretta Martin, director of the Chamber of Commerce, was optimistic this week the groups could attract 50 participants in the next few weeks. If businesses and elected officials joining forces island-wide, she said there could be a positive impact for future of the economy of Whidbey Island.

“Individually we are weak,” she said. “As a group, if we work together, we are powerful.”

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