Grays Harbor community members touring Bremerton. From left to right:
Norm McCloughlin, Craig Dublanko, Scott Reynvaan
Cary Bozeman, Alan Richrod, Karen Rowe
Peter Schave, Tawni Andrews
Bobbi McCracken
Bette Worth
Community leaders join research tour in Kitsap County
Insights from tour to inform development of Grays Harbor Gateway Center and other planned improvements on the Harbor

Bremerton, Wash. – August 2, 2017 – Today, community, business and civic leaders from Grays Harbor County toured facilities in Bremerton and Bainbridge Island to gather insight and lessons learned that could apply to the Gateway Center and other improvement plans currently under development in Aberdeen.

The tour started at the headquarters of Rice Fergus Miller, the architects behind the Morck Hotel in Aberdeen led by Aberdeen native and architect, Michael Miller. Here the group discussed the importance of fueling economic opportunities in rural communities with insights shared about the revitalization of downtown Bremerton and it’s 4th Street core.

“Aberdeen is the urban core of Grays Harbor just like Bremerton is the urban core of Kitsap County,” noted tour participant and former mayor of Bremerton, Cary Bozeman. “We can learn a lot about the successes that have been made here to reimagine a new future for Aberdeen and the rest of the county.”

In addition to Bozeman, the tour group included several members of the Aberdeen City Council and the Aberdeen Revitalization Movement (ARM) along with representatives from Grays Harbor businesses and other community volunteers.

The Gateway Center and the Morck were both central to discussions about the opportunities available to fuel economic growth in Grays Harbor, as were urban development opportunities on Aberdeen’s Broadway and Wishkah streets.

“The Gateway Center is important because it makes a statement,” Bozeman added. “It lets people know we are moving forward, we are invested in our community, and the future is here.”

Originally imagined more than a decade ago, the Gateway Center has gained momentum in the past year with a series of public meetings held to shape the design and function of an enterprise center that will also serve as a resource for tourists seeking information about activities, events, lodging and restaurants on the Harbor.

Tour of downtown Bremerton's revitalized core.
“One of the reasons we are so passionate about the potential for this project,” noted Tawni Andrews, president of the Aberdeen City Council, “is that we’ve seen it work. We’ve seen it work in Thurston County and now we’ve seen it work in Kitsap County. It’s time we see it work in Grays Harbor.”

A similar group with many of the same participants toured the Thurston County EDC Center for Business and Innovation last year where they learned in the first year of operation it doubled the economic impact in the region from $20M to $42M and grew the number of businesses served from 300 to 1,200. In Kitsap County, the Norm Dicks Center represents a similar convening force for local economic growth and following its construction, has been able to fuel several projects including waterfront condominiums, new restaurants, apartment housing, and other urban development.

Craig Dublanko of
Coastal Community Action Program experiencing Virtual Reality of the Gateway Center at Coates Design Architects
Later in the day, the group visited Bainbridge Island to view a new virtual reality tour of the proposed Gateway Center project at Coates Design Architects followed by a tour of the Bainbridge Island Art Museum that also serves as a community meeting center and events center at the crossroads to the core of downtown Bainbridge Island. The Bainbridge Island Downtown Association also shared its beautification and event planning efforts on Winslow Way as part of its accredited Main Street program, which mirrors similar opportunities on Aberdeen’s “Main Street” which the city is considering for additional funding.

“While Olympia may not be able to come to consensus on the capital budget where we are hopeful to secure shovel-ready funds for the Gateway Center,” Andrews added, “we are united in our commitment to spurring more economic opportunity in Grays Harbor and will continue to do our due diligence to learn from similar successful programs in other counties in the region.”