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OP-ED: Strong area councils are key for strong member engagement

SC2013_DJC_320x320Mike Salsgiver, Executive DirectorLast month, the Associated General Contractors’ Oregon-Columbia chapter, in partnership with active members based in the Astoria area, held the first meeting of the North Coast Area Council. The inauguration of the council represents an engaging step those members took to ensure strong communication between members and staff as well as a guarantee that we as a chapter and the industry at large are focused on advocating for issues that matter.

The AGC Oregon-Columbia chapter has multiple, long-standing area councils in different regions of the state, including: South Coast, Rogue Valley, Klamath and Southwest Washington. These councils provide a network for contractors and industry associates to come together to better connect the region’s contractors with the benefits of AGC membership and to create opportunities for interaction among the area’s members.

So what made the initiation of the North Coast Area Council so successful, and what is the process to getting a new council started? The success of the North Coast has truly been member-driven. Initially, active members in the area reached out to AGC to make it known that they were interested in creating a council to increase AGC’s presence in that part of the state and to increase member engagement. Once the conversation began, our membership team asked what those members would find valuable. The answers largely included discussions and receptions centered on legislative issues and workers’ safety.

Because of the feedback received, AGC planned and held a successful dinner and legislative presentation on Dec. 9. This allowed for a presentation from AGC Public Affairs Director John Rakowitz, and chapter discussions and insights from AGC’s 2017 President Brian Gray. Additionally, a safety-focused breakfast is planned in the spring; the council has said it would like to meet roughly twice a year.

The success of our newest area council can really be attributed to the deep engagement of the members in that area. We are only as strong as our members are engaged. When everything comes together, we are able to provide our members with meaningful, relevant information and events.

We want our members to feel empowered to reach out to make something happen! The focus of these newer councils from our end is to establish a presence in parts of the state where we have not been as visible and be more available to members in those areas while delivering relevant and beneficial events and services to those members.

In early February, we plan to hold a Central Oregon Region Breakfast to further develop interest in beginning an area council specific to that area. It would not be as member-driven as the North Coast Area Council, but we recognize that we have a high concentration of members in that area and plan to hold more of an “AGC 101” type of discussion. This discussion will include who we are, what we do, what the value of AGC membership is, and highlight 2016 election results.

Mike Salsgiver is the executive director of Associated General Contractors’ Oregon-Columbia chapter. Contact him at 503-685-8305 or

This article originally appeared in the DJC and can be viewed here (subscription required).

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