The Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance received the Organizational Excellence award at Washington Main Street’s Excellence on Main Awards Ceremony on April 25 in Ellensburg.
The ceremony was held in conjunction with RevitalizeWA, Washington State’s Preservation and Main Street Conference.
The Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance was formed in 2008 after three forward-thinking citizens attended the National Main Street Conference in Seattle the previous year. The nonprofit organization achieved state designation as a Washington Main Street Community in 2011 and received National Accreditation by 2012.
When it formed in 2008, the alliance adopted the Main Street Approach as its framework for encouraging economic vitality and preservation in their historic waterfront community. Today, the organization is a well-oiled machine, boasting four strong and active committees overseen by a board of directors and a staff of three. The board president plays an active and public role, together with the executive director.
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The alliance’s list of accomplishments is long, encompassing creative initiatives to bring more people to the downtown district, including Girls Night Out, the Waterfront Farmers Market, the Gig Harbor Wine & Food Festival, and a community partnership supporting the Summer Trolley Project. Additional projects include business and public education campaigns; activities that highlight the area’s unique heritage, such as the Waterfront Walking Tours; and opportunities for the community to make their mark on downtown, such as the annual Gigging Up the Harbor volunteer spring clean-up event.
“Volunteerism, partnerships, and passion define the people that together make up the Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance,” Mary DesMarais, the executive director, said in a release. “They believe in the mission of the Alliance, they love their community, and they are committed to making a difference. As a result, we are experiencing tremendous momentum that impacts both the present and the future of our beautiful downtown waterfront in a positive way.”
Part of the alliance’s mission is to bring together all downtown waterfront stakeholders. It has accomplished this by expanding its volunteer base to be inclusive of residents, organizations and businesses. In particular, the alliance partners with the city of Gig Harbor, local service clubs, and other nonprofit organizations. These partnerships have allowed the alliance to leverage its local assets and enhance the downtown district. In 2016 alone, the alliance logged nearly 4,000 volunteer hours.
“The Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance is a leading example of Main Street principles at work: local people working together to make change,” said Breanne Durham, Washington Main Street Coordinator. “The Alliance’s impact on Gig Harbor cannot be overstated, and we continue to be blown away by their commitment and passion.”
The Excellence on Main Awards, organized by the Washington State Main Street Program, recognize communities, organizations, and individuals who are helping to achieve economic vitality and build sustainable communities through downtown revitalization and preservation.