Above: Accepting the award on behalf of Washington Main Street, (from left) Nicholas Vann, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation; Annalee Tobey, Executive Director, Chehalis Community Renaissance Team; Todd Cutts, Executive Director, Olympia Downtown Alliance; Chris Moore, Executive Director, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. The group is pictured with WEDA member Carmela Solorzano, who is also Communication & Event Manager at the Yakima County Development Association. Photo courtesy of WEDA.

The leaders of Washington Economic Development Association (WEDA) awarded their 2023 Economic Development Awards on March 30 at their 2023 Spring Conference in Olympia, WA. We are proud to share that Washington’s network of local Main Street Communities received this year’s Economic Response & Recovery award for their collective and highly impactful response to the small business crisis brought on by the pandemic.

“WEDA’s Economic Development Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in economic development at the highest level,” said WEDA Board Chair Alisha Benson, who also serves as CEO of Greater Spokane Inc. “There are leaders across our entire state working tirelessly to recover and grow jobs and strengthen economic vitality in their communities. These awards honor leaders and projects that are excelling in this important work.”

Bruce Kendall, WEDA Awards Committee Chair who also serves as President & CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County added, “We received a number of impressive nominations from communities across Washington. The nominations reflect a unique array of the breadth and diversity of strong work taking place by economic developers in Washington. These projects are often complex and require extensive collaboration and creative partnerships.”

Above: Todd Cutts gives remarks on behalf of the network of Washington Main Street Communities at the WEDA Awards ceremony. Photo courtesy of WEDA.

The Economic Response & Recovery award recognizes economic development organizations, entities, and/or individuals that have made innovative efforts to address the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. WEDA recognizes innovative programs, projects, and partnerships that are pioneering, groundbreaking, and/or novel with this award.

Luke Hallowell, Economic Vitality Specialist for the Washington Main Street program, said in the nomination for the award, “The Washington State Main Street Program is proud to submit this nomination because we had a front row seat to every Main Street Community’s incredibly strong show of support and ingenuity during the pandemic. These small but mighty nonprofit organizations worked tirelessly alongside their small businesses to understand complex programs, advocate for support, find creative modifications to traditional business practices, and help local residents find ways to contribute. The local Main Street directors in these communities were lifelines to their small businesses, because the trusting relationships were already in place before the pandemic broke out. We learned from these local organizations that resiliency isn’t just about the response in the wake of a crisis, but about the strong baseline of community connections that Main Street works to build every day.”

Read the full press release from WEDA for a list of award winners in all categories. View study highlights or read the full report on the economic resiliency of Washington Main Street businesses at preservewa.org/resiliency.