A few Olympia Downtown Association members including board member Jeffrey Trinin made their way to the Capitol Wednesday, part of a coalition of certified Main Street communities from around the state that advocate for and promote their local business districts. The local group, led by ODA’s executive director, Connie Lorenz, had displays in a large Senate meeting room that told the story of their communities.
Olympia is one of 13 nationally-certified communities in Washington, and the groups collectively claim to have created 12,665 new jobs since 1991. All told, Lorenz said there are 27 programs certified at the state level that help cities upgrade their look and appeal.
The state Main Street program has a $1.5 million cap on business-occupation tax credits for participating businesses, and Lorenz said the cap is getting closer to being hit as more communities have joined the program. But she said the welcoming event at the Cherberg building was not designed to ask for more help – at least not this year.
Instead the goal was to put the program at the top of lawmakers’ minds.
A few supportive lawmakers stopped in – including Republican Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside, Democratic Sen. Karen Fraser of Thurston County, and Democratic Sen. Nathan Schlicher of Gig Harbor.
“It’s a good program,” Schlicher said. “I wanted to drop by.”
The Olympia program is the only one in the 22nd district and fliers put out by the Main Street Program say it was involved in creating 369 jobs and adding 92 new or expanded businesses from 2008 to 2012. It also saw 57 public improvement projects in the capital city worth $166.6 million during the period.
The Gig Harbor program is also nationally certified and claims it created 31 jobs and helped 13 new and expanded businesses in 2012.