An Interview with Peter Quinn
Executive Director, Team Jefferson (County)
Peter Quinn has been the Executive Director of EDC Team Jefferson since December 2011 and has implemented a community sustainable strategy that combines creativity with economic development. Peter wears many hats in combining his community and economic development skills with his passion for entrepreneurship. He is currently serving as CEO of Quimper Mercantile Company an innovative and community owned general merchandise store in Port Townsend. He is also the co-owner of The Writers’ Workshoppe, a unique etail and resource company targeted to writers. His resume includes being the former Executive Director of the Northwest Entrepreneur Network. He is a serial entrepreneur with startups that include a winery in Oregon, a wireless sensor and switching company, an online wine auction company He has directed and managed many technology and communications companies, from Ireland to Seattle, and specializes in strategic thinking, business start-ups, marketing, advertising, product development, and poetry.
Port Townsend launched local funding initiatives many years ago. How is that going?
The two major initiatives in the last several years is LION (local investment opportunity network) and Quimper Mercantile’s Direct Public Offering. LION is a model for unclustered investors with no pooled interest. Well over $3 million dollars has been invested in over 60 companies. True peer to peer lending. It works. Quimper Mercantile’s Direct Public Offering raised over $700,000 to replace a general merchandise store in downtown Port Townsend. A community owned corporation, its by-laws restrict stock accumulation and ensure the community controls the company. Opened in 10-11-12, it turned a profit in just over two years, provides employment for 8 individuals and anchors a now thriving downtown retail environment by keeping everyday shopping alive on Quimper Peninsula.
Workforce and housing issues for employees are proving challenging in west side communities. Are you coming up with solutions?
Our solution is the solution others are now coming up with; ADU’s or additional dwelling units on regular sized lots. Until recently it provided a fairly good supply of affordable housing. The downside, especially for a small community, was that multi-unit housing development stalled. There is available, zoned land but demand didn’t materialize to entice investors. Now that the ADU’s are becoming vacation rentals and not as available to residents, there is a shortage of rental housing, particularly within Port Townsend’s city limits.
Tell us about art and economic development in Port Townsend.
Port Townsend is known nationally as an arts community. Many successful writers, photographers, musicians and visual artists, make this their home. Centrum has been a cornerstone of holding that space for over 40 years, offering multi-day events catering to all manner of artistic endeavors. It’s hard to say which drove what, however. This is a unique environment blending love of maritime with all things artistic. It is going through a generational change, moving with millennials who, through today’s technology, can pursue a career and their art, often blending both. When you can work where you want to live, Jefferson County often wins.
Tell people about your focus thrive program.
Our simple tag line is “we build business owners’. focusTHRIVE is a map for our clients to follow in becoming the most essential, and scarce resource we have; business owners.
With our recent move into high visibility offices, co-located with the Jefferson County Chamber, SBDC, Craft3, the Visitor’s center and others, we needed to productize our offerings. We created an umbrella under which our 6 major efforts reside: focusTHRIVE. This allows potential clients to understand where they can start and how far we can go with us. Essentially, we have the skills, particularly in conjunction with our partners, to help business owners plan through a series of classes, stay focused through co-working grants, test, launch, fund and/or buy their way into business ownership.
Focus Buy is a creative approach to recruitment, tell us about it. Any successes?
EDC Team Jefferson believes in proactive business development. Quimper Mercantile is an excellent example, We ask ourselves “what’s needed?” then “what’s missing?” then “what’s the best way to get there?” With Quimper Mercantile, the decision was to team with LION members and do it ourselves. I am still the CEO of Quimper Mercantile and have been from its beginning. focusBUY is the proactive way to recruit. Find one of those precious potential business owners, help them decide what their passions, skills and capabilities are, then help them find a company to buy anywhere in the world that can be relocated to Jefferson County. I am convinced this is the best way for small counties to attract companies from out of state. The variables are significantly reduced. The new owner has already chosen Jefferson County. All they need is a company to buy and relocate. There are a few on the runway, a few that went off the runway and none in the air at this point in time. We have laid the groundwork, are beginning to attract business owners and hope to take off with our first success soon.