Similar to Austin and Portland, Seattle developed a program that assists neighborhood business districts in the development of a collective district vision. The Only in Seattle Initiative is a partnership between Seattle’s Office of Economic Development, the Seattle Department of Transportation, the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, and the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture to foster vibrant, financially stable business districts. The initiative empowers neighborhood business district to organize around a common vision and attract investment and provides comprehensive ongoing support to district looking to increase foot traffic, promote unique events, and ensure neighborhood cohesion and safety.
Only in Seattle supports over fifty (50) neighborhood business district organizations around the City of Seattle including the Beacon Hill Merchants Association, the Downtown Seattle Association, and the Georgetown Merchants Association, among others. The program offers business districts a variety of tools and resources including, but not limited to, online resources for business district improvement, grants, workshops trainings, and marketing and promotions. In 2017, the Only in Seattle Initiative invested $1 million in 21 business districts through the following services: business improvement area consultation, business outreach and engagement, mobile business consulting, placemaking consulting services, and city infrastructure improvements.
The initiative has identified five core principles that are critical components of a successful district: business organization, business and retail development, appearance and pedestrian environment, marketing and promotion, and cleanliness and safety. Only in Seattle believes that these qualities create flourishing business districts in vibrant neighborhoods that serve the needs of the community. Therefore, Only in Seattle’s support focuses on addressing the five principles through the development and implementation of projects that positively impact each of the individual district and the businesses within.
Every year, Only in Seattle collaborates with the business district merchants association and its partners to fully develop and implement placemaking, place branding, and infrastructure projects within each district to attract patrons and increase the economic vitality of each district. In late 2016, SDOT installed a wayfinding system within the Beacon Hill District. (insert wayfinding photo) That same year, the Chinatown-International District received funding for façade enhancement projects within the district. Similarly, the MLK/Othello business district received assistance from Only in Seattle to expand their “O Hello Othello” brand, including the improvement of their district website. (insert website screenshot) Furthermore, Only in Seattle also provides assistance to businesses districts who are interested in developing a strategic plan for their district and formally organizing as a merchants association or a business improvement district.
Both Only in Seattle and Soul-y Austin focus on the development of sustainable business districts that serve the surrounding community. Through technical assistance, grants, and district improvement projects both cities are continually seeking to improve the economic vitality of businesses while at the same time improving the experience for those who visit these destinations.