March 26, 2009 in Washington Voices

Cheney group plans for prosperity

Renamed organization aims to revitalize city
By The Spokesman-Review
 

On the Web

Visit the new Historic Downtown Cheney Partnership Web site at www.downtowncheney.org.

After doing business in Cheney as Pathways to Progress for years, the Main Street program that hopes to revitalize the downtown business district has changed its name and is launching a new Web site to help recruit new members and volunteers.

The Historic Downtown Cheney Partnership held an open house last week to show off its programs for the year and provide information about its numerous committees.

Funded by both Eastern Washington University and the city, the partnership is working to empower local business owners to create long-term economic prosperity downtown.

The organization committee is working on gathering members, developing funding sources, sending out quarterly newsletters and creating a community resource guide.

“The Web site is part of that,” said Spencer Grainger, the interim director. The organization recently rolled out its Web site featuring the new Historic Downtown Cheney Partnership logo and information about the programs the group offers.

“It’s a central resource for people to find out what’s going on in Cheney,” he said.

One of the fundraising events the committee is forming is a Harvest Ball, a black-tie event geared toward adults with dancing, wine samples and on-site flower sales. Grainger expects the event to be held Sept. 12.

“I don’t know yet where it’s going to go,” he said, but he hopes to hold what he calls a “prom for adults” in a gymnasium somewhere in Cheney.

The cost to attend the ball will be $25 to $35 per person or $50 per couple. Major donors to the partnership will be admitted for free.

The design committee is busy working on the city’s beautification projects such as the flower pots in downtown and the mural the organization has been raising funds for since September 2007.

A third of the funds for the mural have been raised and Grainger hopes to have the first of three panels up before the farmers market opens this May.

The committee will also work to make sure the banners on light posts in downtown are changed quarterly and it will work to promote the Ice Age Flood System to generate tourism through the city.

The economic restructuring committee is working to develop a long-term prosperity plan for downtown.

In recent years, Pathways has put together a Merchants Association. Now they are tracking downtown businesses – which businesses are open after 6 p.m., which businesses have been successful and the association is updating the property value information the partnership has on file.

The committee is also working to set up a business improvement district in Cheney, much like the Downtown Spokane Partnership that was formed to help stimulate business in Spokane.

The promotions committee is gearing up for a busy year of activities including Mayfest, which will be May 30. This year’s big attraction will be a one-on-one bicycle race down First Street.

The last weekend in May will be a busy one in downtown with the opening of the farmers market May 29 and the Multicultural Festival, which will combine with Mayfest this year.

Changes in the farmers market this year include the addition of a debit/credit card machine obtained by a grant from the Washington State Farmers Market Association. Not only will the market accept the debit or credit cards, but it will also accept EBT cards for those on food stamps.

“This is really big for us,” Grainger said. “It’s providing local, healthy food to a population that needs it.”

The market will be open Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the first and third Saturdays of the month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Other activities this year include the Holiday Hoopla in December and the Rodeo Days Arts, Crafts and Food Festival.

The promotions committee is also working to find new means of getting tourists into Cheney through the promotion of the Fish Lake Trail and the Columbia Plateau Trail State Park. There are also lakes, the Turnbull Wildlife Refuge and the historic districts in Cheney. All of these areas are accessed by going though Cheney and the partnership hopes to capitalize on that.

The final committee will be working on fundraising projects throughout the city by holding events and by promoting Downtown Cheney merchandise and working on finding grant money for the city.

The Historic Downtown Cheney Partnership is always looking for new members and volunteers. The office can be reached at 559-5818.

Contact staff writer Lisa Leinberger at 459-5449 or by e-mail at lisal@spokesman.com.


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