Excellence on Main Award

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Lido Collective

Awardee: Mount Vernon Downtown Association

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2023

City: Mount Vernon

The Economic Vitality Award is an annual award that recognizes enhancement efforts that have improved the economic vitality of the district including job creation and retention, sales growth, and more. The Mount Vernon Downtown Association received the 2023 Economic Vitality Award in recognition of their work creating the Lido Collective retail space downtown to support local artists.

With the Tulip Festival Street Fair as their longstanding signature event and a five-year strategy centered around the arts, the Mount Vernon Downtown Association (MVDA) has close connections to the region’s artist community. They were acutely aware of how this economic sector was impacted by the pandemic and how dependent on seasonal events creative entrepreneurs are in the region. The MVDA believed they could serve both their arts entrepreneurs and their downtown retail environment by offering a brick-and-mortar outlet to expand artists’ revenue opportunities. When a prime retail space opened, MVDA executive director Ellen Gamson moved quickly, pitching the idea to her board, applying for a Nonprofit Community Recovery Grant, hastily persuading the building owner to support the idea.

After remodeling the space using grant funds and their own revenue, as well as key contributions from donors and volunteers, the MVDA opened the Lido Collective for business in April 2022, with 47 local artists’ works available for sale. Their consignment model enables artists to keep 60% of their sales, pay no fees for space, and have no staffing requirements (since the MVDA staffs the retail space). After 18 months in operation, the Lido Collective has created three jobs, prompted the opening of two new businesses nearby, and led to revenue generation for 60 local artists.

The Mount Vernon Downtown Association is truly leading the way in fostering a stronger and more resilient creative economy on Main Street.

Excellence on Main Award

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Pandemic Economic Recovery Effort

Awardee: Olympia Downtown Alliance

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2022

City: Olympia

The Olympia Downtown Alliance and City of Olympia began working together in the early days of the pandemic. The partnership itself is noteworthy and marked a major step in strengthening the trust and shared goals between the City and the Alliance. The two groups worked together to craft a wide-ranging scope of work to support the downtown district–both the small businesses and the community at large, which relies on downtown as its gathering place. The City contracted with the Alliance to the tune of $625,000 to execute the multi-pronged approach, which included:

– Physical improvement grants to businesses to accommodate COVID-related activities

– Support for a business recruitment and retention strategy and a Creative Districts strategic plan formation

– Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design lighting projects

– Noteworthy placemaking initiatives, including a “Celebrating our Diverse Leaders” banner project in which 20 diverse leaders past and present were celebrated throughout downtown

– Marketing campaigns, including the “Why I Go Downtown” visitor guide that highlighted downtown’s unique businesses

– And a new outdoor street festival called “Love Oly Summer Fest” that attracted thousands of downtown customers in a safe outdoor environment

This suite of services helped struggling businesses pivot to new models, improved safety in the district, and created an environment where the Olympia community felt safe coming together.

Excellence on Main Award

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Thai House Facade Project

Awardee: Colleda Monick, Steve Weise, Roger Wilson, and Joe Mann

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2016

City: Yakima

As a new Washington Main Street Community, Downtown Association of Yakima wanted to show the power of Main Street by making a visual impact and investing in the downtown business community. A façade grant program was developed and a selection committee toured downtown Yakima to identify a business that would benefit from a façade enhancement.

Hidden behind an aging storefront, lacking adequate windows or visual appeal, and located on a key block at the center of the downtown district, the Thai House restaurant was unanimously selected for the pilot project. Based on recommendations from an architect, multiple improvements were made in 2015, including removing the security screen from the building, creating an outdoor seating area in an underutilized planting bed, and installing floor to ceiling windows and a glass door. Funding for this project was a 50:50 grant match between DAY and the business and property owner.  In total, over $20,000 was spent in façade improvements.

The impact of this project has been greater than anticipated and enhanced the building not only visually, but also spurred activity to the area and surrounding businesses. The Thai House is reporting over 25% increase in sales and visible increase in foot traffic near the restaurant. Since the project has been complete, 3 new businesses have opened within a 100 feet of the business.

The success of the Thai House façade project has spurred DAY to develop a long-term façade grant program that is now open to downtown businesses and property owners who desire to make improvements to the façade of their buildings. DAY intends to do 2-4 projects a year based on demand.

Excellence on Main Award

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Awardee: Gerald and Yolanda Taylor and Tony and Raechill Dotson

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2018

City: Camas

Salud! is owned by two married couples, Gerald and Yolanda Taylor and Tony and Raechill Dotson, who had a vision for a business that would provide their fellow community members with opportunities to spend time together, learn, and create friendships. Wine enthusiasts all, they developed a plan for a wine bar that is equal parts tasting room, meeting space, event venue, and wine storage facility where people can store their own wine in temperature controlled spaces.

Before opening their business, the Taylors and the Dotsons tackled an adaptive building reuse of grand proportions. The building in downtown Camas was long home to Sears, and when the store closed its doors in 2016, it was unclear what new use the large, open space would hold. The building was certainly large enough for the various uses Salud!’s owners had in mind, but creating the intimate environment suitable for the wine bar and meeting spaces took a great deal of remodeling, much of which was done by the Taylors and Dotsons themselves. They exposed old beams, put up walls, and built a wine storage area complete with street signs, such as “Chardonnay Way,” along a Main Street corridor.

Salud! opened its doors in August 2017 and has since brought thousands of people to downtown Camas. In addition to opening their meeting space to nonprofit organizations and other groups, Salud! hosts many of their own events, including chef dinners, murder mystery parties, movie nights, a 1980s-themed prom, and more. They often partner with fellow entrepreneurs to bring people to downtown Camas for more than just their own destination business. Collaboration and cross-promotional advertising with Salud! has benefited the historic Liberty Theatre, the Camas Hotel, as well as nearby food and beverage establishments. The Taylors and the Dotsons are handily accomplishing their goals of bringing the community together through their business.

Communities everywhere are struggling with reuse of historic buildings originally suited for department stores. Salud! represents the innovative spirit of Main Street: adaptive, creative, and rooted in bringing people together.

Excellence on Main Award

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Downtown Farmer’s Market

Awardee: Shane Laib of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2017

City: Walla Walla

During the 1990s, as downtown Walla Walla was beginning the extensive Local Improvement District rehabilitation process, an idea was brought forth to develop a farmers market to enhance and showcase the local agricultural and artisan offerings of the Walla Walla Valley. The overall goal was to attract local shoppers to the downtown core.

Original plans involved the city building a market structure on an abandoned lumber yard adjacent to downtown, but it was soon clear that this was a cost prohibitive plan. Not willing to let the proposed market die, the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation and members of the City Council developed a new plan to build an open-air market on the vacant block. The market kicked off its first season in 1997.

Several nay-sayers said it wouldn’t last, but through the efforts of the vendors, volunteers, staff, sponsors, and patrons alike, the market recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Originally subsidized by the city and private donations, the market is now 100% self-sustaining.

With its central location in the downtown core, the market has become one of the unique gathering places for residents and tourists alike. In 2016, survey results showed that 42% of market visitors were from out of town and 92% of them planned to purchase during their visit. The 2016 market produced an additional $500,000 in sales for the local economy.

Market vendors transitioning to successful brick and mortar locations and local chefs purchasing products for their restaurants on a regular basis are signs of a market that is fully integrated and serving as an economic engine in the community. The Downtown Farmers Market is a vibrant, healthy market that is a consistent source of economic impact on the local economy.

Excellence on Main Award

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The CoLab

Awardee: Heather Dudley-Nollette and Frank DePalma

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2015

City: Port Townsend

Framed by floor-to-ceiling windows in an airy, cleverly designed 2,300 square foot space – created by local designers and contractors – the Port Townsend CoLab fosters inspiration and energy in Port Townsend. Coworking is the social gathering of a group of people who work independently but share values and take interest in the spillover effects that occur when talented people share a space. The concept appeals to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently and otherwise work in relative isolation. Port Townsend entrepreneurs Heather Dudley-Nollette and Frank DePalma researched the market for two years prior to making the decision that such a space was a sustainable business idea for the community.

The CoLab opened its doors on the second floor of the historic Elks Building in January 2013. It’s amenities include shared conference space, high speed internet, office equipment, a kitchen area serving locally roasted organic Sunrise Coffee, and a supportive sounding board for the members to brainstorm ideas and work together on projects. They offer targeted free and low-cost business classes to assist entrepreneurs and host the Young Professional Test Labs for the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, which is a peer-driven business topic brainstorm. The CoLab also offers one-on-one coaching sessions using volunteer services of Team Jefferson/EDC and CoLab members.

“Coworking is not only about the physical space but in the collaboration and innovation that comes from having creative people working in the same space,” said Sarah Hansen, former Washington State Main Street Program Coordinator. “The beautiful and clever reuse of this historic space has brought together 130 drop-in and meeting space users as well as 20 full and part-time entrepreneurs dedicated to fostering a healthy and vibrant economy in Port Townsend. It is sure to be a model for other communities across the country.”

Excellence on Main Award

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Innovative Partnership Campaign

Awardee: Vancouver Downtown Association

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2015

City: Vancouver

The Vancouver Downtown Association (VDA) knew that the City of Vancouver was given the Innovative Partnership Zone designation by the State of Washington in an effort to attract more creative businesses. As one of two areas in the city that would receive special focus, the downtown association knew they would be working with several partners, including the Columbia River Economic Development Council and the City, and that it was the VDA’s responsibility to define downtown in a compelling way.

The VDA chose to fund two projects to tell Vancouver’s story and meet the identified goals of attracting visionary businesses and their employees to the downtown core. Additionally, VDA needed to identify ways to keep those employees as residents and demonstrate how nearby recreational opportunities and other quality of life factors are optimized in the city center.

The recruitment brochure is the reincarnation of a six-year-old version with updated information and partnerships and a new layout. The video component is intended to tell three stories about investing in downtown Vancouver: what it is like to live downtown, what it is like to own a business downtown, and what it is like to develop projects downtown.

Since the promotional materials were introduced, they have been incorporated into the region’s recruitment efforts and have been a valuable tool for landlords to fill spaces downtown. The video has been viewed nearly 9,000 times since it was posted, and the brochure has been viewed hundreds of times online and is in its second printing.

“The VDA has done an amazing job of communicating to the business community the value of a vibrant downtown,” says Sarah Hansen, Washington State Main Street Program Coordinator. “This high-spirited approach to business recruitment has been a great success and has really conveyed the personality of downtown Vancouver.”

Excellence on Main Award

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Colfax Mercantile

Awardee: Colfax Downtown Association

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2020

City: Colfax

The Colfax Mercantile was first imagined by the Colfax Downtown Association’s Economic Vitality committee – researching business incubator programs in other towns to pick just the right pieces to fit their vision. They knew they wanted to attract and educate entrepreneurs about how to run a business so they could fill storefronts and bring a buzz back to historic downtown buildings. They began by saving one themselves.

The 1893 Ellis-Waite building on Main Street had been vacant and boarded up for 15 years when a partnership between the Economic Vitality committee and local business owners Laura and Austin Storm determined that one of the three storefronts within the property would become the Colfax Mercantile. The other storefronts are also being revitalized with plans for the Storms to expand their retail business already underway. The Mercantile vision added incentive to the investment being made by the Storms, who say they feel like there is a Colfax downtown revival going on right now.

That downtown revival includes seven new businesses that are being incubated in the Colfax Mercantile that now offer vintage finds, frozen yogurt, homemade cookies, furniture, and clothing. The new incubator businesses have created a ripple effect on Main Street – more shops are opening, more storefronts are being updated and filled, and more people from surrounding areas are recognizing Colfax as the gem that it is.

The Downtown Association, Chamber of Commerce, County and City, Mayor, business owners, and citizens all pitched in to make this business incubator a reality – from sweat equity updating the storefront to donating 80 umbrellas to create a one-of-a-kind ceiling display, this is truly a community project.

Excellence on Main Award

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Goodfellow Brothers

Award: Economic Vitality

Year: 2019

City: Wenatchee

In Spring 2016 the Wenatchee Downtown Association hosted its biannual Possibilities Tour, an initiative that showcases vacant downtown properties and provides vision and resources for rehabilitating historic spaces. On this particularly tour, the Dore Building’s new owner group led by Rory Turner guided the participants up a set of spooky stairs to the neglected upper floor. Amidst pigeons flying out from the rafters, Chris Martin was able to see the possibilities of this key downtown building.

Chris manages Pacific Rim Land Inc., a real estate development company and was on the Possibilities tour representing Goodfellow Bros., a fourth generation, family-owned general contractor company that was started in Wenatchee nearly 100 years ago and now boasts an impressive portfolio that spans the Western United States. Despite the company’s reach, they are committed to their Wenatchee roots and were looking for a new office for their Washington-based employees.

Goodfellow Bros. chose to start their search in downtown Wenatchee because of the district’s restaurant scene. As Chris puts it, “There is an aura of change and growth in the air downtown. Millennials opt for urban environments and the offerings they provide.”

The project kept the company’s employee wishes in mind throughout the design and construction phases. Goodfellow Bros. purchased the upper floor of the Dore Building and set to work tackling the challenges and unusable spaces left behind by previous owners. Two years and $2.9 million in private investment later and the upper floor of the building is a beautiful and dynamic work environment enjoyed by nearly 50 employees.

At a time when downtown Wenatchee is facing the proposed exodus of the downtown PUD campus and the 400 employees who occupy that location, Goodfellow Bros.’ investment in the district has been particularly impactful on the restaurants and other businesses that rely on the regular foot traffic that downtown employees provide. Goodfellow Bros. has proven their dedication to their hometown community, which in turn has embraced the company with open arms. Chris notes that not a week has gone by when he hasn’t met someone with a story about how Goodfellow Bros. has played a role in their or their family’s lives. With their investment downtown, it’s safe to say that Goodfellow Bros. will continue making an impact on Wenatchee for generations to come.