This evening Mayor Ed Murray will join business leaders and owners in Seattle’s Central Area to announce $1.6 million in neighborhood investments through the Only in Seattle initiative. This year’s grants will make investments in 19 neighborhoods, bringing City departments and local business stakeholders together to develop strategies and improvements that strengthen neighborhood business districts.
“Thriving, walkable business districts are vital to the success of Seattle’s neighborhoods,” said Mayor Murray. “We work with local leaders and business owners on Only in Seattle grants to develop a shared vision that attracts businesses and jobs to neighborhoods across Seattle.”
“Neighborhood business districts are the economic engines of our city. The uniqueness of each neighborhood is one of the reasons people love to live here,” said Brian Surratt, Director of the Office of Economic Development. “The Only in Seattle initiative helps foster neighborhood businesses by supporting community and community leadership.”
About 80 percent of Seattle businesses are small businesses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Paychex IHS Small Business Jobs Index cites Seattle as the number one U.S. metro area for small business job growth.
The Office of Economic Development’s Only in Seattle initiative supports investments in neighborhood business districts, and focuses on the following strategies to create strong business districts:
- Business and retail development (supporting businesses, attracting new businesses)
- Marketing and promotion (events, social media, district advertising)
- Clean and safe (graffiti removal, garbage pick-up, lighting)
- Streetscape and appearance (catalytic development projects, façade, public art)
- Business organization development to sustain the effort, including the creation of a Business Improvement Area (BIA) or exploration to form one.
The local business communities in 14 neighborhoods are developing or are launching comprehensive, multi-year strategies, in which the City is investing more than $1 million in 2016:
- Ballard $ 85,000
- Beacon Hill $ 47,800
- Capitol Hill $ 137,500
- Central Area $ 102,000
- Chinatown-ID $ 150,880
- First Hill $ 40,000
- Georgetown $ 20,000
- Hillman City $ 24,700
- Lake City $ 75,000
- Magnolia $ 15,000
- Mt. Baker $ 28,000
- Othello $ 152,275
- Rainier Beach $ 75,000
- South Park $ 60,000
The City will make additional investments in Green Lake, Pioneer Square, South Lake Union, the University District, and Westlake/Downtown through a blend of façade and awning projects, BIA funding, partnerships with City departments, and capital improvement projects.
Through a partnership with the Seattle Investment Fund, a total of $50,000 in façade improvements will be granted to Chinatown-ID for new signs and awnings on three buildings, and to South Park for new signs and security cameras for eight buildings. Neighborhood business district organizations provided a significant match for these project costs.
“Five businesses in Rainier Beach benefited from the façade improvement investments in 2015,” said Patrice Thomas, Coordinator of the Rainier Beach Action Coalition. “The improvements were designed using Crime Prevention through Environmental Design principles to make the stores safer for customers and business owners and operators.”
Additionally, Only in Seattle is granting $75,000 to seven neighborhoods to explore or create a BIA. The seven neighborhoods are: Chinatown/ID, Capitol Hill, Ballard, First Hill, Magnolia, Georgetown and South Lake Union. Existing BIAs have generated over $49 million over the last three years to fund clean and safe, marketing and promotion, and business retail and development programs across Seattle.
This year, Only in Seattle also granted $500,000 to neighborhoods with paid on-street parking or significant construction impacts for capital improvement projects that enhance the commercial district experience:
Pioneer Passage Alley $200,000: The Seattle Department of Transportation will rebuild Pioneer Passage Alley in Pioneer Square to make it walkable and functional for sidewalk cafes and events.
Lighting Study of Chinatown\International District $100,000: A lighting study will determine improvements to increase safety and visibility in the business district.
First Hill Active and Attractive Public Spaces $80,000: First Hill Improvement Association will create walking loops in the district, hold fun events in University Street Park and paint the columns under I-5 to create an attractive gateway to the neighborhood.
Welcome to South Park Signs $30,000: South Park Retail Merchants Association will conduct a design process to create “Welcome to South Park” signs at its gateways.
Pike/Pine Safety and Parking Improvements $27,500: The Capitol Hill Housing will work with local businesses to remove dumpsters, install lighting and develop strategies to share local parking between businesses and residents.
Love Green Lake Banners and Parking Maps $20,000: The Green Lake Chamber will beautify the business district with banners and develop maps to highlight available parking.
Westlake Park Lighting Plan $20,000: A lighting study will define solutions to make the park accessible and inviting during evening hours.
Wayfinding Signs and Signal Box Art in Beacon Hill $10,000: Wayfinding signs will be installed at the Beacon Hill light rail station and art placed on signal boxes.
The Office of Arts & Culture and the Department of Neighborhoods have been integral partners in the Only in Seattle initiative by bolstering the investments and service support. This year, three neighborhoods will receive support from the Office of Arts & Culture to organize festive gatherings of business district leaders, artists, arts organizations and/or cultural organizations to meet and explore possibilities for collaboration. The districts are Lake City, First Hill and Hillman City.
Through the partnership with the Department of Neighborhoods, neighborhood business districts are receiving support from bi-lingual, bi-cultural outreach specialists to offer technical assistance and problem solving for businesses of color in their districts. Six neighborhoods will receive a combined $30,000 in support and will participate in a training cohort throughout the year to develop tools and identify resources to build equity in their work plan. The neighborhoods are: Lake City, Hillman City, Capitol Hill, the University District, South Park and Little Saigon.
“We’re excited to engage with business owners of color to help shape the direction of our work and make it more inclusive and representative of the entire business community,” said Elizabeth McCoury, President and CEO of The U District Partnership.