Good things are happening downtown

Lee Rafferty

Vancouver’s Downtown Association (VDA) is a nonprofit that is completely focused on our downtown. We work with the businesses, property owners, event planners, historians, residents, downtown fans and visitors who enjoy it. VDA recruits, promotes and improves our downtown core thanks to the hard work and dedication of volunteers and donors. Did you know that 30 local businesses have donated $1 million dollars to VDA through the Main Street Tax Credit Incentive Program since 2006? Albina Fuel is our single largest donor, and thanks to consistent, broad support from our business community, our downtown is finding a stronger, more passionate voice.

Undeniably, downtown Vancouver is in ‘change mode.’ New investors, new businesses and new concepts are finding places to blossom alongside well-known community brands and personalities. That change is creating a place where people want to be.

A day in the life

As executive director, my day never really goes as scheduled. In fact, most of my days are as free form as they come. Two weeks ago, I had a string of days that made me want to pinch myself. Could all of this good news actually be happening?

Within three days, I had two downtowners come to tell me that they were adding new kitchens to their spaces; two significant downtown buildings changed hands; new events were added to the events calendar that are brand new to the city; we received word that another new restaurant is on track; and I visited our new ‘Sincerely, the Bride’ shop on 7th Street, a bridal boutique with great selection and savvy owners. Great things are happening all around us.

VDA’s sole purpose is to create opportunity and help people succeed. Traditional downtowns are authentic places for people of all ages offering options for the enjoyment of the arts, job opportunities, places to make memories, places to call home, places to gather, places to play, and place where anyone can make a difference. Bundle all of those things together and your have economic development on a very local scale.

That brings us back to this morning’s event, where Vancouver’s Downtown Association honored eight recipients of the association’s Game Changers Awards. Most of these winners were chosen by public vote.

We were proud to honor the following individuals, businesses and events for their notable contributions to our downtown’s upward trajectory in 2013:

• Derek Chisholm – Carl Dobbs Award for Outstanding 
VDA Volunteer

• Frontier Landscaping/Steve and Tina Pash – Albina Fuel 
Award for Outstanding Corporate Partner

• Thai Orchid – Outstanding Façade Improvement Award

• First Friday Downtown – Cash Register Ringer Event 
(the event at which you were most apt to spend money in a downtown business)

• Clark County Mural Society – Visionary Award

• Johnson Bixby and Associates – Golden Broom Award (for creating a welcoming storefront)

• Recycled Arts Festival – People’s Choice Favorite Event

• Low Bar – Favorite New Business

Vancouver’s Downtown Association loves to give credit where credit is due, and it’s with great pleasure that we honored these recipients this morning.

We encourage you to learn, to participate and to volunteer. However, most of all we hope you will enjoy your downtown as often as you can. Good things are happening here!

Lee Rafferty is the executive director of Vancouver’s Downtown Association. To learn more about VDA, visit www.vdausa.org or call 360.258.1129.

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