Several years ago, businesses in the downtown core, municipal and urban renewal representatives discussed the value of establishing an Oregon Main Street Program (OMSP) for Pendleton.

It was realized that many communities in Oregon and throughout the country were rejuvenating their downtown business districts by implementing successful OMSP strategies. It was also realized the Oregon Main Street Program provided substantial grant opportunities from the state of Oregon that only certified downtown associations with a 501(c) (3) status are eligible for.

In the spring of 2015, a reorganized Pendleton Downtown Association (PDA) was founded and began the task of establishing organizational capacity to qualify for application to the state of Oregon. In January of 2016, Pendleton’s OMSP application was approved and the PDA was certified as a Transforming Oregon Main Street Program.

It was known staffed downtown associations receive a priority status when applying for grants. To address this requirement, downtown businesses and other contributors in the community donated $50,000.00 to match a Mike & Jill Thorne Challenge Grant.

In September of 2016, the PDA hired a program manager through the University of Oregon’s RARE Program, which lead to the hiring of a PDA executive director in September of 2017.

In the first year of OMSP grant eligibility, the PDA applied for and was successful in obtaining a $100,000.00 grant for the restructuring and renovation of the Rivoli Theater, and is currently developing grant opportunities for a Downtown Business Retention and Recruitment Plan.

In May of 2018, the city of Pendleton Council voted to provide financial support to the PDA on the condition the PDA maintain the Oregon Main Street Program, use PDA grant capabilities to assist the city in the implementation of the Pendleton Downtown Plan, the Destination Development Plan, and the Downtown Parking Plan.

The source of city funding for the PDA is derived from multiple sources. Some years ago, the city of Pendleton raised the annual business license fee from $50 to $100 per year. The $50 per year increase was targeted to supplement the city’s Economic Development staffing. However, the city’s economic development department has been focused on the acquisition of industrial and larger-scale businesses, and not focused on recruiting operations more suited to the downtown business core.

Realizing the value of supporting a vibrant economy in the 6 X 6 Downtown Business District, the city voted to reallocate the $50 per year business license fee back to the downtown business district by providing partial funding for the Pendleton Downtown Association, which has prioritized the retention and recruitment of retail and service related businesses in the district as its mission. The balance of partial PDA support is advanced by the Pendleton Development Commission to conform with their goal No. 1 — increase the vitality of Pendleton’s downtown, and with their awareness of potential PDA grant awards.

See www.pendletondowntownassociation.com for more information.

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Fred Bradbury is the president of the Pendleton Downtown Association board of directors.

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