(From Mayor Mike McGinn’s blog)
Today, the mayor joined neighborhood business district leaders and local business owners at Big Time Brewery & Alehouse in Seattle’s University District to announce a $1.1 million investment in 19 neighborhood business districts as part of the Seattle Jobs Plan.
“Our neighborhood business districts are a critical economic asset. Their diversity and strength is a part of what makes our city special,” said Mayor McGinn. “The dollars that the city invests support projects that make an immediate impact in our neighborhoods, and they also serve as catalysts that bring neighborhood business district leaders together to organize and create a shared vision for long-term revitalization strategies, which will help our city’s overall economic recovery.”
Small businesses employ 72 percent of Seattle’s workforce and contribute 35 percent of the city’s business tax revenues, totaling $55.4 million. Our local neighborhood business districts serve as the location and incubators for many of the city’s small businesses. The Seattle Jobs Plan specifically targets investment in Seattle’s neighborhood business districts.
“As a business owner, I know that investments in our business district help us do more to improve our business environment and support our local businesses,” said Don Schulze, board chair of the University District Chamber of Commerce and owner of Shultzy’s. “I’m excited about this investment in our University District business to help us, the business and property owners, get organized around a shared vision for the future of our neighborhood.”
The Office of Economic Development (OED)’s Only in Seattle Initiative supports investments in neighborhood business districts, and focuses on the following strategies to create healthy business districts:
- Business and retail development (supporting businesses, enhancing business mix);
- Marketing and promotion (events, social media, district advertising);
- Clean and safe (graffiti removal, dumpster free alleys, lighting);
- Streetscape and appearance (catalytic development projects, façade, public art); and
- Business organization development to sustain the effort, including participation of an existing Business Improvement Area (BIA) or commitment to form one.
The local business communities in these nine neighborhoods have developed comprehensive, multi-year strategies, in which the city is investing a total of $844,000 in 2012.
- Capitol Hill / 12th Avenue $128,000
- Central Area Main Streets $ 72,000
- Chinatown / International District $185,000
- Columbia City $ 66,500
- MLK (Rainier Valley) $ 83,000
- Pioneer Square $120,000
- Rainier Beach $ 55,000
- University District $ 70,000
- White Center $ 64,500
In addition, the city is investing $142,500 to support focused investments in additional neighborhoods, as well as the Only in Seattle marketing campaign and business organization development.
- Focused investments will be made in these neighborhoods: Beacon Hill, Belltown, Columbia City, Georgetown, Madison Valley, Rainier Beach, SODO, South Park, and White Center.
- The city will expand the Only in Seattle marketing campaign, which highlights the hidden gems of shopping and dining in Seattle’s neighborhoods (www.onlyinseattle.org). The following neighborhoods will join the Only in Seattle marketing effort: Fremont, Pioneer Square and Wallingford.
- The city also will invest to build strong business-focused organizational capacity to sustain the efforts of neighborhood business districts. Support for Business Improvement Area (BIA) formation will occur in the following neighborhoods: Ballard, Belltown, Capitol Hill / 12th Avenue, Madison Valley, Pioneer Square, SODO, and West Seattle.
“The city is focused on helping business and property owners to strengthen local business climate and grow jobs,” said Steve Johnson, director of the Office of Economic Development. “Through the Only in Seattle Initiative we have created an investment framework and partnerships to execute strategies to support healthy business districts.”
In addition this year, the city is investing $100,000 in three neighborhoods for façade improvements: Columbia City, Central Area Main Streets, and Chinatown/International District. This investment was matched with $142,764 in private dollars. These improvements directly impact the continued revitalization of the neighborhood business districts and support ongoing business attraction and clean and safe strategies.
“The City’s investment in the Viet-Wah façade with a new awning and improved lighting will help our customers feel welcome and safe while they are shopping,” said Duc Tran, Chairman, Viet-Wah Group in Little Saigon. “Helping our business districts look and feel clean and professional help attract a mix of businesses and companies, increase our customer base and in turn, expand our bottom line.”
OED will fund and manage this program in partnership with Impact Capital, a Seattle-based community development financial institution serving underserved communities throughout Washington.
OED also partnered with the Seattle Department of Transportation this year to better understand the purpose and patterns of travel by visitors in various neighborhood business districts by conducting an intercept survey of visitors in six neighborhood business districts.
“From this survey we were able to gauge important patterns of customers in the district, including how long they were staying, and what other services they were looking for,” said Shelley Morrison, chairman of the marketing committee of the Columbia City Business Association. “We will use this data to improve our marketing and business attraction efforts. It’s the kind of research we couldn’t afford to do on our own, but is greatly beneficial, especially when we can compare ourselves to other neighborhoods.”
Photo by: Aaron Fishbone