Wenatchee Downtown Association
Awardee: Steph Grubich and Linda Haglund
Award: Organizational Excellence
The Wenatchee Downtown Association has fully embraced an important principle of any successful downtown revitalization strategy: partnerships!
One such partnership is with the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce. In 2014, the two organizations established a joint membership program and a scholarship program that allows a new business to become a member of both organizations at no cost their first year in business. New businesses also have opportunities to be connected with an experienced business owner through the joint mentorship program. By working together, rather than competing, the WDA and Chamber are offering important services to local entrepreneurs.
Downtown Wenatchee is now a brighter place thanks to a partnership forged between the WDA and the City of Wenatchee to update downtown’s aging street lights. The WDA and the City joined forces to purchase 114 new LED lights for downtown, which has created a warmer, safer, and more appealing commercial district.
Community partnerships have resulted in several other successes for WDA in recent years. By connecting with a local elementary school, the WDA engaged students in an art competition, asking them to draw images depicting their favorite things about downtown Wenatchee. Sixteen of these images were turned into beloved new “Why I Love Downtown” banners now hanging prominently along Wenatchee Avenue.
The business community’s support of WDA is clearly evidenced by the high turnout and contagious enthusiasm found at their Annual Dinner. WDA’s annual celebration includes the awarding of “Downtown’s Best”, which recognizing locally-owned businesses. The awards are highly valued by the business owners, in part because the community at large is invited to cast their vote.
Executive Director Linda Haglund puts it best, as only she can: “We are the heart of this community…I dare you to come downtown and not feel that.”