What downtown Washington needs

Published 6:11 pm Monday, August 27, 2018

This past Friday, three Main Street businesses in Washington held events that offered residents and visitors a reason to get out about town. With art receptions held at Contemporary Art Exchange and River Walk Art Gallery, and a wine tasting taking place at Wine & Words & Gourmet, these three events each attracted people to downtown.

In last Friday’s paper, the WDN ran a story billing the three separate events as a package deal — three reasons to go downtown and three opportunities to support local businesses, all wrapped up as one experience spanning the length of Main Street.

No one group or individual planned it out that way. There was no coordinated effort to string the events together as an evening on the town. It was a happy coincidence that three downtown businesses held events on the same night, within walking distance of one another and timing spaced out to make attending each one possible.

Now, imagine if that were a coordinated effort.

Picture a downtown alive and happening on a Friday or Saturday night, with pedestrian traffic passing from place to place, with something to do at each venue. Think what could happen if this was a regular occurrence.

What if the merchants, restaurants, galleries, the city and downtown organizations such as the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, the Washington Harbor District Alliance and the Washington Tourism Development Authority threw their support and energies into making Washington, NC the place to be in eastern North Carolina one weekend each month?

Already, a group of downtown business owners is working to pool resources and efforts to bring day-trippers to Washington for collaborative events that include the entirety of downtown. While tourists and visitors are crucial to helping our businesses succeed, these efforts in turn provide fun options to the people who live here.

There is no question that Washington is on the up and up. The city’s future looks bright, and every business, organization and nonprofit has a role to play. With so much to offer, and so many people wanting to see this city succeed, there is no limit to what this town is capable of. If we can all pull together in the same direction, cooperating, collaborating and brainstorming, just imagine what could happen.