What is the Downtown Foundation’s general mission in relation to the retailers in downtown Walla Walla?
Our mission is to promote the history, culture and commerce in the downtown. Our purpose is to maintain a comprehensive downtown revitalization strategy following the Main Street Four-Point Approach structure, which includes implementing a balance of activities in the areas of organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring.
In the course of our duties we produce events; coordinate with all the other economic development organizations and governments; act as fiscal agent for the SBDC; strengthen the downtown by soliciting retailers and business; make every effort to improve the infra structure of the downtown and work to increase friends and membership to our foundation.
Since the majority of downtown is composed of small businesses what is being done by the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation for those kinds of businesses?
Our mandate is small business. Most of our retailers and businesses in the downtown are small business. The Farmers market is basically only small business. We are the fiscal agent of the Small Business Development Center that is focused on helping small business. We contribute financially to the SBDC and we are responsible for getting other businesses to contribute in cash or in kind to the SBDC. The SBDC is located in the Walla Walla airport.
What is the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation doing about the lack of parking spaces?
Parking has been an issue in the downtown for over a decade. In the last two years we convinced the city to do angle parking on Alder (similar to the parking style on Main St.). We helped them find the money for the research and the implementation.
How much money does the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation spend promoting the downtown?
We believe that ALL of the money we spend is for promoting the downtown. All of our events occur in the downtown and the object is to bring people to our downtown to enjoy the art, architecture and shopping. We believe the combination of all of our events (Feast, Chefs Table, Macys Parade, Summer Concerts, Halloween, Wheelin’) attract nearly 20,000 people every year. We also advertise outside of our Valley to promote the events in our downtown.
What is the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation doing about the future to help the downtown?
To be effective, we always have to be thinking of the future. For a couple of years we have been working with the city to work on the infrastructure of the downtown. In 2015 nearly $3 million will be spent on traffic lights, pavement, lining the streets for angle parking and erecting old style lampposts. The Downtown Walla Walla Foundation has also formed an LID (Local Improvement District) to determine what else we can do to improve the infra structure and beauty of the downtown. The plan of that LID is to enhance the infra structure from Palouse to fifth down Main and down Alder and including all the side streets joining the main two streets.
In an effort to increase upper story living quarters in the downtown, the Design Committee of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation developed a manual for property owners and developers to help promote the growth of people living in the downtown. The Design Committee won two awards for their work on this subject.
In addition, a few Downtown Walla Walla Foundation board members are on the Mill Creek Task Force to determine how we can make Mill Creek more safe and useful.