Supporting Economic Vitality While Preserving the Historic Waterfront District
Gig Harbor’s Downtown Waterfront Alliance By Jillian Chandler|Courtesy of Downtown Waterfront Alliance Gig Harbor
Founded 15 years ago as a 501c3 nonprofit organization with a mission to support the economic vitality and preserve the historic character of the Waterfront District here in Gig Harbor, the Downtown Waterfront Alliance has been a steadfast support organization for many waterfront businesses over the years.
“The Alliance is a geographically designed organization, so businesses who are in our district range from Anthony’s Restaurant to the new 7 Seas and up Pioneer, across Judson and on both sides of Harborview Drive,” notes Carrianne Ekberg, executive director for the Alliance. “For those who are not physically located in our district, we encourage community leaders and members to volunteer, become a sponsor or donate.”
As an accredited Main Street organization (MainStreet.org), the Alliance is made up of a volunteer board of directors and four committees, which form the four points of the Main Street framework: Economic Vitality, Design, Organization and Outreach, and Promotions.
In addition to hosting events and overseeing projects, the Alliance has built and maintained important relationships with other local agencies, city and government officials, and advocated for the importance of Main Street communities—not only in Gig Harbor but across Washington state.
The Alliance is proud to partner with other local nonprofits and government agencies; work directly with business owners and property owners along the waterfront; and partner with the community through events such as the Farmers Market, Sip & Stroll, Girls Night Out, Restaurant Week and more.
“Events are a great way to bring the community together and also get people into storefronts they may have never visited,” states Carrianne. “For example, our Sip & Stroll this past October encouraged more than 500 people to stop at 28 locations along the waterfront; several of them new businesses who have opened in the last six months.” The goal of the Alliance is to raise awareness about the waterfront district and to encourage people to shop, dine and spend their time there, and the Alliance strives to become a main resource for residents and tourists as to what’s happening along the downtown waterfront.
Come 2024, the Downtown Waterfront Alliance will be focused on ensuring their events align with their transformation strategies, with an emphasis on shoulder and off-season, not just the summer months. They will also be strategizing on how to make the events inclusive for all demographics.
“We couldn’t do all the things we do without the support from our volunteers,” Carrianne affirms. “The Alliance is actively seeking volunteers to help with events and also additional programs throughout the year.”
Those interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities are asked to visit GHDWA.org/volunteer. For those interested in staying in the know with all that’s happening along Gig Harbor’s waterfront, Carrianne welcomes you to sign up to receive their weekly email newsletter campaign at GHDWA.org/contact-8.