As of Jan. 15, Linda Moholt is no longer the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive officer, but she plans to start volunteering promoting business and educational opportunities in the city, so she won’t exactly “retire.”
After spending more than 20 years in the retail business, Moholt’s passion for supporting both people and businesses in the community was ignited when she became volunteer coordinator of the Tualatin School House Food Pantry in 2004, and in September 2008 she was able to continue that work when she was hired by the chamber.
“(The School House Food Pantry position) was an amazing experience because I had the opportunity to see food boxes not as a solution but as a stop-gap measure leading to workforce development and directing under-served kids into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math),” she said.
In 2012 the America’s Best Communities competition led Tualatin to focus on its Community Revitalization Plan that included a plan to bring STEAM opportunities to students, starting in primary school.
“Out of 350 entries, we were in the final eight and won $100,000, plus with awards and grants, we were able to collaborate with the Tigard-Tualatin School District to form the #WorkReady program,” Moholt said. “It was the perfect collaboration. I love collaboration! We created a foundation to accept funds. This is one of the legacy projects we developed that will live on and prepare students for jobs in the community.”
On a different front, a plan to highlight Tualatin’s connection to the Ice Age was a collaboration between the community, the city and the chamber. “By working with partners, we have connected Tualatin’s Ice Age history to our parks and trails, established an Ice Age Tourism Foundation and are raising funds for an Ice Age Interpretive Center,” Moholt said. “Tourism is good for businesses and brings revenue to our restaurants, hotels and stores.”
Moholt is proud of her part in developing Tualatin Tomorrow, which is a vision and strategic-action plan first adopted in 2007. “Members of the community submitted goals, and we found partners to implement them,” she said.
The chamber has supported Tualatin becoming a major retail and employment center, with thousands employed in technology, manufacturing and medicine. “Half our tax base is paid by business and industry, which means a lower tax rate for homeowners,” Moholt said. “Tualatin is a well-run city that provides good services.”
She added, “The chamber has had to take a hard stand for businesses at times. Our job is to protect businesses. We have had tough conversations without creating a huge divide while we look for common ground.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought its own problems, which led to the formation of the Washington County Business Recovery Center, the first in the state. The county partnered with Chambers of Commerce in Tualatin, Hillsboro, Beaverton and Forest Grove to provide grants and free assistance that included providing a business consultant and outreach team as a resource. To date the program has connected more than 150 businesses with free counseling and free personal protective equipment.
“I’m so incredibly proud of this venture,” Moholt said. “We have accomplished a lot and helped as many businesses as we possibly can. We hope to continue in 2021. I believe it’s our finest work.”
Finally, according to Moholt, the chamber has represented Tualatin businesses on every transportation committee in the region. “A few of our accomplishments include opening 124th Avenue and I-5 auxiliary lanes plus making improvements to Herman Road, Boones Ferry Road and Tualatin-Sherwood Road with more work to come,” she said.
Now Moholt is ready to hang up the many hats she has worn on the job, noting, “You are responsible for everything. You report to the Board of Directors, you run the staff, you represent the chamber in the community, you raise money.”
Moholt called retiring a “bittersweet decision,” saying she and her husband Ron “have planned for it, and now that the time is here, it’s harder than I thought it would be. I love the people in our business community and will miss working with them on a daily basis. But I feel that I’ve given my best, and now it’s time for someone else to put their stamp on the organization.”
Susan Noack, president of the chamber’s Board of Directors, said the board had a difficult job finding someone to fill Moholt’s shoes.
“For twelve years, Linda has been the chamber champion and community leader for ‘business and community working together,’” Noack said. “She has given her heart and soul to our membership, making sure that Tualatin businesses have the tools needed to thrive and be successful through programming, advocacy and resources. Her drive to do better and be better every day set the standard for all of us to follow and is part of the legacy she is leaving to the chamber. It has been a personal honor to work with Linda and to be called her friend, and I wish her well on her next journey.”
Taking over as the chamber CEO is Roy Gugliotta of Healdsburg, Calif., who has a background in managing businesses and serving as a chamber chief executive officer in Arizona and California.