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2019 Great American Main Street Semi-Finalist Spotlight: Ellensburg, Washington

March 18, 2019 | 2019 Great American Main Street Semi-Finalist Spotlight: Ellensburg, Washington 

In a week, we’ll announce the three winners of the 2019 Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA) at the Main Street Now Conference in Seattle, Washington. In anticipation of the GAMSA reveal, we’re highlighting each of the 10 GAMSA semi-finalists on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram every day until the #NOW19 conference.

Semi-finalists are selected by a national jury of community development professionals and leaders in the fields of economic development and historic preservation. These communities exemplify the power of the Main Street Approach® to transform traditional downtowns and neighborhood business districts.

Ellensburg Downtown Association  Ellensburg, Washington 

Year Founded: 2004 | Population: 18,957 | Square Blocks in Commercial District: 16
Ellensburg residents dance the night away at the annual Hoedown in the Downtown, an outdoor concert that kicks off rodeo weekend. Photo credit: Ellensburg Downtown Association

"Through taking bold steps and building trust in our community which lead to strong partnerships, we were able to assist in the transformation of downtown through building renovations, event creation, immense improvement in beautification, and now we look forward to a downtown hotel opening in fall of 2019." - Molly Jones-Kerchner, Executive Director, Ellensburg Downtown Association

Home to ranchers, artists, and college students, Ellensburg has managed to make its downtown a gathering place for everyone in their community. Since 2010, the Ellensburg Downtown Association (EDA) has worked diligently to turn its central Washington Main Street into a hub for art, music, food, local craft brews and wine, history, and much more.

Since 2004, EDA has redeveloped key historic buildings, created new marketing strategies, and invested in infrastructure and amenities to create a strong local business environment. To support small business owners, the EDA provides entrepreneur development through a 12-week business plan course. With a 97% occupancy rate, the downtown has experienced a net gain of 35 small businesses and a doubling in property values since 2004.

The EDA also improved walkability by providing shade via lush trees and flowers, lobbied for free downtown public transportation, and recruited restaurants and shopping. Now, workers are choosing to live where they work, with 80 new residential units constructed and 10 more in development today. Ellensburg draws residents and visitors alike downtown through its events, including their 25-year-old Farmers Market, First Friday Art Walk, and Winterhop Brewfest.

Fun fact: The Ellensburg Rodeo started in 1923, growing from local competitions to a top ten professional Rodeo. In 2011, the Rodeo and the EDA partnered to host Hoedown in the Downtown, an outdoor concert to kick off rodeo weekend. Over 1,200 people attend this annual, award-winning event. Downtown businesses embrace the rodeo culture by painting their windows and sponsoring special events.

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Check back tomorrow for our next GAMSA semi-finalist spotlight.