Seaside Downtown Development Association
I’m a well-rounded person. As far as the area, I used to live here, this is my second time living here. I moved away when the economy fell because my husband lost his job at the time. He works at Otak Engineering and they went through three layoffs, as did a lot of people. He was in the third one. So we were forced to move but we were happy to come back almost six years later and we have a daughter, so we’re happy to be able to come back and raise her here. He’s actually back at the same company, but he’s a manger there now, so that worked out alright.
We just came back in May and I started (with the SDDA) in June. Obviously, I worked in the community before for five years, I was very involved in volunteering as well. I was in the Sheriff’s Posse, I volunteered at the animal shelter, did a lot of different things. I’ve always been into that, so even when I moved away I served on some boards. My previous job I also worked with some boards, so I have some volunteer experience serving as an officer or working with them, and then also working for them.
My education — I got a bachelor’s in 2006 in equestrian science, but I’m a business minor, so I can kind of go both ways with that, obviously using the business side more right now. I have used the horse degree some, and hope to do more with that later in my life, not right now.
When we lived away we were in a very remote area in Randle, Washington near Packwood, Washington. My husband was working for the Forest Service, which is what took us out there away from here, and the community is really small, like 1,200 people in three different little communities that are 20 miles apart. For one, I started a 4-H riding club there because there wasn’t a horse club. There was a riding club, but no horse 4-H club. I got 16 kids right off the bat, I was maxed out, that was my cutoff. They were kids age 5 all the way up to teen, and that was a lot of fun but two years into it I got pregnant and decided that I needed to cut back a little bit. I just became a logistics thing, because you’re working with a lot of families and the kids are relying on transportation to and from activities and there would be no shows and I’m out there with my baby waiting for them to show up and they’re not. So I just decided that it was too hard between maybe some lack of commitment between them and me committing.
During that time I had a riding lesson business and horse training business that I had built up to several clients and when I got pregnant and was right at my due date — I worked all the way up to my due date — I decided I needed to choose, basically and it wasn’t going to be worthwhile to keep (the business and 4-H club) and I had a little part-time job on the side.
I’m trained for the equestrian side to do horse training, teach riding lessons, do barn management for large barns. We do pre-vet courses as well, so you’re learning how to work with vets in emergency situations, how to assist with colics a little bit more than somebody who’s learning at their barn, hands on.
Back to the business side, that’s what I’ve used most of all through school and then after school. Even before school my first jobs were in retail and restaurants and then moved into working for an educational service district that supports the schools. I worked there for four years while I was putting myself and my husband through college, both of us, and got a lot of skills there because I worked in human resources. After that we did the moving to finish school thing, did some shuffling, came back here. After (taking) time off I thought the assistant job was perfect, getting my feet wet and coming back. Then we had the unexpected resignation here and I thought maybe it would be time. It was a nice step up into the business world and, with my background I think I was ready.
Every board is different, because they’re structured to what their organization needs. So nonprofit community groups may have a different set of bylaws than, say we would here, because it’s driven by your need. You have to use that as your guideline as to how you run your business. Here we’re a membership association and so what we do is going to be dictated by what our membership wants too. We support the downtown core of Seaside, which is defined by the maintenance district for the city if you go by mapping areas. We also are a liaison to the city for working on certain things. We have an ongoing thing we’re finishing right now — the city is trying to replace trash receptacles downtown and people want input as to what those look like. They don’t want them to be an eyesore, but the city also needs them to be what they need to be — accessible for their workers in a proper way. You can either access them from the top or from the side and then you’ve got, well can we put artwork on the side door, that’s the next thing. Then, who’s going to determine what artwork that is. Well, you can imagine when you get a whole group of businesses, they probably don’t want 140 businesses coming to them and telling what they want on the artwork.
We had it as an open discussion topic at one of our weekly meetings here in town. We’re able to compile that data, basically, and take it to the city and say, ‘So much percentage of our membership would like to see this,’ or ‘Half and half feel this way.’ It’s a nice relationship that way and that way you don’t have those individuals just going. Plus, there are politics, and sometimes it’s unecessary, maybe a fear, but they may have that fear of, ‘Well, if I go and tell the city that I don’t like the idea of artwork on the trashcan, are they going to have a bad reputation for my business?’ We have a really good working relationship with the city and a long history with them.
I’d say it’s mandatory. The city manager, Mark, he comes to almost all of our weekly meetings, which is nice. We interact with him at other community meetings too. We attended the (Chamber of Commerce) meeting, the Chamber attends our meetings, so we get a lot of that. It’s good. I wouldnt’ say with other community groups it’s always been that way. A lot of people ask about the chamber and us, but we have come a long way and we have no intention of going backwards. We really enjoy working together now.
It’s good. We do a little bit of two different things. The Chamber is geared a little bit more toward whole city or town, bigger area, and they do a little bit more on the visitor side of it. In our mission it does talk about visitors and local community but we do, again, we support the main downtown area. We do have a friend of downtown membership so people can still contribute, but that is our main goal that we do is to help those businesses that are in that core area.
It’s been OK. The biggest challenge has just been the workload, but otherwise it’s been smooth, it’s been fine. The community has been very welcoming.
We are looking at more partnering with groups, around town, around the county even. Again, we try to come back always to our focus about, we like to bring events and things and people involved in downtown, but we do a number of events ourself, so we would like to see more partnering or involvement of those groups in our own events.
Really just internally, the workload. Right now a big task that we’re doing is we had a new website built and so we’re going to be just getting more content on there. We have successfully been building up Facebook and now Instagram, we’re on Instagram @Seasidedowntown, and we’ve been doing really, really good on that so we’re going to be doing more interface with that and building up our website, but I’ve got to get my assistant in here before we can do that. Doing it’s not the problem.
Probably what our mission is, which is to enhance the economic and environmental viability of downtown for the locals and visitors both, so we do both, keeping that focus and keeping it split between the two. We feel like we have always been really strong on the visitors side of it, but sometimes we feel like a few things are maybe lacking on the local side of it and we’re working to change that. We do another annual event called Halloween Happenin’. Last year was the first year we didn’t have it in a long time, but we are going to bring it back this year. It’ll be a larger event, and it’s going to be better planned, it will actually be more of an event. It’s going to be twofold -- it will be for visitors and for locals. We’re looking at doing it two different days, we’re having a trick or treat main street event...and then we’re looking at doing another event on Saturday for it which will have family activities and costume contests and then in the evening we’re going to do a Boo and Brew brew fest and adult costume contest type stuff. I think that will be a nice accent for the local community compared to everything else we have too.
It really was just a feeling that we had. SDDA is really good about getting out in the community and being in the street, so we know our businesses and we know who the people are because we get out and we meet them and we see them and we go in their business. We’re not just sending out a letter and saying ‘Hi, please join our association.’ We’re going out and seeing, what is it that you want? We’re getting feedback at our breakfast meetings. We have a breakfast meeting every Thursday, 8:30 a.m. Seaside Pig n’ Pancake. That’s open to people who are nonmembers as well. We get people who are nonmembers that come, or just community members, and we want the feedback, so we request it. They’re pretty good about giving it when we request it. What’s the benefit to members of being a part of the organization?
We have a long list of businesses for one, so you’d get a list of businesses you’d be connected with all those businesses. I guess a network of support is what I’m saying for downtown. Little things like we give a sticker for the window, kind of similar to the chamber if you think about it. We have discounted things or exclusive things.
On our website we have a membership page that we will be growing and it will have links, you’ll get a photo with your membership to be on there. They get to be involved in our other events, we also do two car shows a year - Muscle and Chrome and Seaside Wheels and Waves - so we have vendor space, we have information space, we have some other sponsorship opportunities, places to display your logo or your banner, print media. We do put out things, from time to time, that use people’s logos. So those things, if you’re not a member you’re not going to get those.
One of them...was just we beat feet, we get out there, which is well appreciated here in this community. We encourage people to stop us and say hi if we haven’t met them and they see us and they know who we are, stop us and say hi or grab us or give us a call or come by or make an appointment if we’re not coming to you fast enough or something. We encourage that and we like that. We want that personable relationship. We have some ideas and we are moving on them, to get people and their businesses more exposure in a really down-to-earth, fun way. Those involve pictures, interviews, videos, so we will be utilizing those ideas this coming year, you’ll see more of that and we don’t see other people doing that as much, especially in a small town. So we’re going to do something about that.
I can’t speak forever because I came in June, but I think a little bit better organization and some consistency. If you think about the bones of an organization when you have an association like this and you have that many members, you need to keep good records for that, and we have the records, but having them in an organized fashion as we grow and meet the needs of that growth is always a challenge for anybody. So this past year, Tita worked really hard on that, so we’re just continuing that and looking to finish putting together what’s been working for us.
I just am really looking forward to working here and representing downtown Seaside, and I’m excited to be here. I’ve always loved this community and this county, we have really warm people and a lot of good groups and intentions everywhere and I think it’s a neat place to live and work.