Bobbi & Bette posing in the Founders Day parade.
Bette Worth and Bobbi McCracken have been invested in the revitalization and improvement of Grays Harbor for years. As the newest board members of the Aberdeen Revitalization Movement (ARM), the two are now engaged in an effort with ARM to have the historic area of Aberdeen recognized by Washington state’s Main Street program.

“This is such an exciting opportunity for our community,” McCracken said. “We have seen this program bring in a lot of new investment and opportunity in other parts of the state and we believe we will see similar advantages here if we succeed in securing this designation.”

The program launched in 1984 with the intent to help communities revitalize the economy, appearance, and image of their downtown commercial districts. According to its website, the program uses a unique “preservation-based” four-point approach that includes:

Organization: Demonstrating a commitment from business and property owners, bankers, citizens, historic preservationists, entrepreneurs, public officials, chambers of commerce and other local economic development organizations to collaborate on a shared vision to renew downtown.

Promotion: Encouraging events and other campaigns that create excitement and vibrancy – everything from street festivals and parades to retail events and art walks.

Design: Enhancing the look and feel of the commercial district, including historic building rehabilitation, clean-up, landscaping, signage, and lighting.

Economic Restructuring: Analyzing market forces to develop long-term solutions including recruiting new businesses, converting unused spaces in new ways, and helping existing businesses improve their sales and marketing.

The program is funded in part by Business and Occupancy taxes that business owners can specifically designate to be used for the Main Street program in their community.

Floral arrangements are part of the beautification efforts of downtown Aberdeen.
“One of the most exciting parts of this program is that it engages local businesses and gives them the ability to tell the state how to designate taxes that they are already paying,” Worth noted. “It’s taking existing funds and allowing local communities to direct where they should be invested.”

The decision to pursue this opportunity took root when Gary Jones at the Bank of the Pacific reached out to ARM. He had successfully launched a Main Street program in Ellensburg and believed Aberdeen was well-suited for the program. Because the application process can be complicated, Jones volunteered to assist in driving some of the process with ARM to help secure the necessary steps and endorsements.

The Ellensburg Main Street program is one of 33 in the state and like the others has seen significant improvements to both the beautification and the economic vibrancy of the community.

“There is no silver bullet solution to creating more opportunity on the Harbor,” added McCracken. “But if we work together and focus on a tapestry of solutions, we can see real and meaningful results that make us all proud to call Grays Harbor home.”