EDA, What is it Good For?

Written by: 

Greg Parker, EDA Board Member, Iron Horse Brewery 

If you know about the Ellensburg Downtown Association, chances are you have some misconceptions about what we do and what we don’t do. If you have no idea what the EDA is, well, what a great opportunity I have here in informing you before you develop misconceptions.

For starters, our mission is to preserve and revitalize Ellensburg’s historic downtown. What’s not to love about that? I might also add that we may have to revise part of our mission since revitalize is damn near in the bag, but I’m probably getting a little ahead of myself, there is always more to do.

So, how do we accomplish the mission? Well, we are some crafty people so we did what most crafty people do and found out who else does this stuff successfully and stole the process directly from them. Or maybe we are required to use the system; doesn’t matter. Point is we are following a process that is tried and true. The system is known as the National Main Street Center’s 4 Point Approach. The 4-point approach includes 4 points, obviously, which are Design, Organization, Promotion and Economic Vitality.

Organization refers to the EDA itself. Main goals for the organization is to have diverse downtown representation from stakeholders such as retailers, landowners, bankers, entrepreneurs, chamber, non-profits and so on. The purpose of focus on Organization is to ensure a team of volunteers, board members and staff that is stable and resilient to maintain consistent EDA performance over time. I can tell you that we continue to improve on Organization. The improvements and growth in the organization are evidenced by the minimal interruption experienced during some fairly large organizational challenges. In my opinion, an organization that can tolerate sudden losses of staff and board members demonstrates the necessary attribute of resilience.

Promotion is downtown events, in a nutshell. The EDA has a long list of events and here are a few:

  • Girls Night Out
  • Children’s Day at the Farmer’s Market
  • Hoedown in the Downtown
  • Buskers in the Burg
  • Downtown Trick-or-Treat
  • Hometown Holidays
  • Moments to Remember
  • Plaid Friday
  • Teddy Bear Tea

Design was listed first in my paragraph above but third in my description because I wanted to keep you thinking. And I missed it when I started to describe them. Design is all about improving the look and feel of downtown. It can include all kinds of stuff, but who cares about the theoretical, here is what the EDA has done so far:

  • Bike racks
  • Planters and plantings
  • Roofline lighting
  • Garbage receptacles
  • Benches

So, that list looks really short but let me tell you, that’s a lot of stuff! There are 50 garbage cans, 65 planters, and there will be 72 bike racks by the end of summer. Keep an eye out and you will see what I’m talking about.

Fourth on the list is Economic Vitality. However, Economic Vitality is probably second on the list of least likely to inspire any visual image whatsoever right behind organization.

“Organization and Economic Vitality you say? I’m inspired, tell me more”

Said no one ever.

However, they still matter. Why is boring stuff so often important too? Economic Vitality is the process of identifying major forces at play in the downtown market and developing long-term strategies to harness or overcome positive and negative forces. Other activities include recruiting new businesses and supporting existing ones with programs like NxLevel Entrepreneur Course.

Here are some of the things we don’t do.

Dictate anything to landowners or businesses. We only support downtown, we don’t have authority over anything but our own actions. If a downtown landowner wants to put in a parking garage, we might have a collective opinion but we can neither stop nor fast track the process.

We don’t get dedicated funding. All of the tax dollars that we receive come from a business, let’s just say Iron Horse Brewery for this example which I clearly picked at random, that elected to divert their business excise taxes from the state general fund to the EDA through the Main Street Tax Credit program.

With any luck, you are still reading at this point. In which case, I must commend your attention span. Hopefully, this gives you a better sense of where the EDA starts and where it ends. I think the work that we have done has really made downtown a great place to visit and there is always more to do. If you agree, do one of three things:

  1. Give us money
  2. Give us your time
  3. Tell someone you think the EDA is a good organization and you like what we do because awareness is just as important as money and time. Ok, that’s a lie, it’s 3rd on the list for a reason, but it is still very meaningful.