A combined effort with the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) and partners across the region took place on Friday, July 13.
Main Street Day across Clark County brought together city leaders, politicians and champions of their communities in an all-day event that started in downtown Vancouver at the historic Kiggins Theatre. The goal of the event was to spotlight the vibrant spaces that make Clark County a unique place to live while providing a forum for “champions” of these city spaces to exchange ideas and share best practices.
“The heart of Clark County is really at the core of its cities – the richness of each Main Street is unique and brings great diversity to our region,” said Monica Santos-Pinacho, director of communications for CREDC. “As we learn about each city – the challenges as well as the fruitful initiatives taking place – we are excited to see what comes of the conversations and how we can foster more connections and collaboration. It is our hope that in bringing together these champions and community leaders, we can create a sharing of ideas and engage in conversations that will bring new resources that will have a lasting impact for everyone.”
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle was on hand to help kick off the day by sharing her thoughts on the growth and changes in downtown Vancouver.
“The heart of the city is our Main Street and the dedication by the people, planning and partnerships such as the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and the City Council to continue to clean up and beautify our city has been an ongoing effort shared by many,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “Businesses are popping up creating more growth and an ongoing need for more housing in the area.”
The mayor also pointed out the beautiful artwork, flower baskets and cleanliness of the city as well as the ongoing events; Farmers markets, concerts at Esther Short Park and the waterfront development as part of the formula for cultural vibrancy.
“We have a business mix of old and new combined with art galleries the Magenta Theater, and even cooking classes that continue to give our city that revitalization,” McEnerny-Ogle said.
Transportation was provided by C-TRAN and invited guests were honored to ride bus No. 4020 (a Hybrid diesel), known as the “Rosa Parks Bus.” The bus is dedicated to Rosa Parks with a plaque and yellow chair at the front of the bus in her honor. C-TRAN CEO Shawn Donaghy shared that C-TRAN has 450 employees and that the vibrant community within downtown Vancouver will continue to create jobs and opportunities across Clark County.
Vancouver’s Downtown Association (VDA) was incorporated in 1989 and is led by a board of directors. It is funded through membership dues, donations and a tax incentive program for business owners, which allows business owners to earmark some of their taxes towards the program. The Main Street Tax Incentive Program benefits both business owners and the community.
Vancouver Downtown Association Executive Director Steve Becker spoke about the need to have the city be a clean, safe welcoming place.
“People want to live in walkable communities and approachable places,” Becker said. “From creating traffic patterns to bike lanes and sidewalks we want to capture visitors and keep residents creating an inviting place for everyone to work and live.”
“Vancouver has 47 new places to eat, 37 new start-up businesses, 14,000 new residence units and will soon have 425 more hotel rooms along with a quarter of a million square feet of office space. It’s exciting to be on Main Street,” said Vancouver City Councilor Linda Glover.
The six-city bus tour, a working bus tour if you will, provided these city champions with the chance to share information between each stop celebrating the beautiful spaces while exchanging ideas and best practices. The chance to highlight their city before each stop was part of the what made this day so special. The scenic drive through Ridgefield’s farm country allowed Ridgefield city officials to point out all the new construction and building happening. Large growing residential developments all with HOAs, new schools and outdoor recreation complexes, including a baseball field and a “Wooden Bat League” as well as a real turf football field that is city owned and will be used by the high school.
Ridgefield sites the city of Camas as their mentor, in that downtown Camas is what they eventually hope to achieve as far as a bigger sense of community within the downtown area.
“Collaboration across the board has been the key to our success,” said Port of Ridgefield Commissioner Scott Hughes.
Downtown Ridgefield is composed of a 12-block area with close to 33 businesses with plenty of room for growth. Three new business have recently opened including, Hookum Brewing Company, a catering company and a children’s art space. Ridgefield is the fastest growing city in the state of Washington. Beautifully lined streets with flags, flower baskets and the well-known Overlook Park made for a picture perfect second stop on the tour. Rootbeer floats, balloons and entertainment added to the celebration.
Ridgefield Mayor Don Stose took the stage at Overlook Park.
“I proclaim Friday, July 13, 2018, as Main Street Day in the city of Ridgefield. The little city with a big heart,” Stose said to the attendees.
The remainder of the day consisted of stops in La Center where Associate Planner Naomi Hansen pointed out the great access to the East Fork Lewis River “that is great for paddle boarding and kayaking. We have amazing trails, outdoor concerts and so much more.”
The Battle Ground stop featured lunch at Barrel Mountain Brewing followed by a stop at Washougal’s Reflection Plaza. On the bus, guests got a light history lesson from Clark County History Museum’s Executive Director Brad Richardson.
“The history of Clark County truly begins on Main Street. Vancouver’s Main Street was the first to be established in the county in 1857,” Richardson said.
The tour concluded with a downtown Camas walking tour and a stop at Grains of Wrath for a little refreshment.
“Downtown Camas is known for its beautiful tree-lined streets, unique boutiques and eateries and small-town charm,” said Carrie Schulstad, Downtown Camas Association executive director.
Learning, sharing and exchanging of ideas while networking and touring the beautiful cities within Clark County, this first ever Main Street Day was just the beginning in the ongoing commitment and creation of making area city Main Streets a great place to live, work and relax.