As cars pass through downtown Pullman they pass multiple storefronts that have “For Lease” and “For Rent” plastered in the windows, but the City of Pullman and the Downtown Pullman Business Association is trying to provide more opportunities to fill those vacancies.
Over the past six months the downtown core of Pullman has seen a fluctuating pattern of businesses going in and out, but that is because the downtown is part of a revolving process to create a fresh and enjoyable main street.
The picture is that Fisher and her team, the Downtown Pullman Business Association, have been around for only six months and created an organization under the Pullman Chamber of Commerce to help small businesses fund repairs and create easy and creative ways to get heard while customers and residents shop through town.
The plan is to proceed with a nation-wide concept and workshop called Main Street to revitalize, create and organize a well working downtown by connecting town to small business owners.
“Our job with the chamber is to incubate small businesses and help them start their business well with an organization, creative team and an economic development team.”
~ Allison Fisher.
This is the most recent way vacancies can be taken care of in Pullman, but for other vacancies like the soon to be closed Shopko building on the hill located on Grand Ave. there is a more private sector approach to filling the vacancy.
City Planner, Pete Dickinson said bigger businesses in town have to go through a private sector realtor and the owner of the building has to approve of the sale. The Shopko building is being looked at by several different businesses including a potential sign-making business.
“It is sad to see places like Shopko leave, but it now creates a time when businesses can take advantage of the openings and even divide the building with multiple new businesses.”
~ Pete Dickinson
Some community members see the Shopko closure as a vacancy with confusing and distant dealings unlike how the downtown core deals with vacancies and the such. Pullman Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Marie Dymkowski emailed Murrow News 8 and describes the situation as the city not being clear to the public on how they deal with closing businesses and how they fill them.
Dickinson responded saying that the council last year voted to hire an Economic Developer to assist and make easier business connections much like the Main Street approach in downtown. The downtown is making strides and the city is trying to make it as transparent as it possibly can.
As the springtime turns into summer more vacancies arise said Fisher, but there is no need to worry because the Main Street program will allow more businesses to try out our downtown over the summer.
Dickinson also describes that there may be storefront vacancies across town, but the vacancies create a place where businesses can have a space to fill and grow for the future and that is what Pullman needs.
The downtown associations and the city are starting to work together as the city is forwarding a 20/40 plan to upgrade and create connections for downtown Pullman under Mayor Glen Johnson’s idea that Pullman needs to grow together on jobs, community and environment.