Bellingham Downtown Partnership Wins Organizational Excellence Award at 2023 Excellence on Main Ceremony
Bellingham, WA October 21, 2023— At the Washington State Main Street Program’s annual awards ceremony, the Downtown Bellingham Partnership was honored with the Organizational Excellence Award for its City Block Program bringing together downtown business owners.
Operated by the nonprofit Washington Trust for Historic Preservation in conjunction with the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, the Washington State Main Street Program helps communities across the state revitalize the economy, appearance, and image of their downtown districts. Today, the Washington State Main Street Program encompasses a network of more than 70 towns and cities across Washington, including Vancouver.
Every year, as a cornerstone event of the annual RevitalizeWA conference, the Washington State Main Street Program hosts the Excellence on Main awards ceremony, honoring projects and individuals whose hard work and innovative efforts are making a difference in their communities and beyond. This year’s 2023 Excellence on Main award winners were announced on Thursday, October 5 at the Providence Academy ballroom, during the RevitalizeWA conference held October 4-6 in Vancouver.
The Organizational Excellence Award is an annual award that recognizes excellence in building a strong downtown organization while achieving consensus and cooperation among stakeholder groups. The Downtown Bellingham Partnership (DBP) was named this year’s Organizational Excellence Award recipient due to their efforts to engage downtown stakeholders through their City Block Program.
Born out of challenging post-pandemic conditions in downtown Bellingham, the City Block Program was launched in April 2022. DBP staff divided the downtown into districts, each represented by one DBP staff member and two business owners. These City Block leaders are responsible for engaging the business and property owners in their designated district—working together to care for shared spaces, organize advocacy efforts, and foster communication between participants, with the DBP, and with the city government. Through the program, new communication channels have been forged where there was previously frustration and disconnect.
District meetings typically have between 10 to 20 businesses owners and nonprofits in attendance. Each meeting starts with a reflection on the positive things they have noticed in the last month and might also include guest speakers or time to plan together. There have already been some positive tangible outcomes of the increased contact and communication, including collaboration on an advocacy campaign related to drug distribution issues, the launch of the Commercial Street Block Party series, and implementing alleyway improvements, just to name a few.
“While still a new program for the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, the City Block Program is already fostering a culture of volunteerism, inclusivity, and community engagement, where the Main Street program isn’t working for—but rather with—the community to co-create downtown,” observed Washington Main Street Director Breanne Durham at the Excellence on Main ceremony. Durham personally presented the Organizational Excellence Award to Downtown Bellingham Partnership executive director Alice Clark.
The Washington State Main Street Program applauds this year’s Excellence on Main award winners and the impacts they have made in their communities. For more photos of the award winners and of the RevitalizeWA conference overall, visit //preservewa.org/revitalizewa2023-album.
About the Downtown Bellingham Partnership
The Downtown Bellingham Partnership works to enhance, promote, and advocate for a vibrant city center in Downtown Bellingham. For more information on the Partnership and upcoming events please visit www.downtownbellingham.com or call 360-527-8710.
About the Washington State Main Street Program:
Since 1984, the Washington State Main Street Program has been helping communities revitalize the economy, appearance, and image of their downtown commercial districts using the successful Main Street Approach®. For more information, visit the Washington Trust’s website at //preservewa.org/mainstreet
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