RIDGEFIELD — Columbia River Economic Development Council’s first Main Street Day was designed for economic leaders around Clark County to learn about what’s going on in each city, but Ridgefield Mayor Don Stose had his sights set a little farther north than Clark County.
“Stand back and watch us grow,” Stose said. “We are going to the moon.”
Stose told the crowd of 40-plus at Overlook Park on Friday that Ridgefield was once again named the fastest-growing city in the state. He spoke about the work of Ridgefield Main Street in helping the city’s economic vitality, and nearly jumped in excitement while reading a proclamation declaring July 13 as Main Street Day in Ridgefield.
Stose was so excited talking about the future of the city, he forgot to bring up the Ridgefield Outdoor Sports Complex, which is scheduled to open this fall and was recently announced as the homesite for a summer collegiate baseball team.
“People from all over the county will be coming to Ridgefield to enjoy some of the top collegiate players in the country,” he said after his presentation. “It’s going to bring Clark County together.”
While Stose was talking about the baseball team, bringing the county together was also the general idea behind CREDC’s Main Street Day, which started in Vancouver and included stops in Ridgefield, La Center, Battle Ground, Camas and Washougal. The group toured the main streets (though in Ridgefield, it’s North Main Avenue) and downtowns of each city, learning about the unique characteristics and amenities of each, as well struggles each community is facing.
“We started doing this event with the goal of convening the city champions and the people who have an impact on what initiatives the Main Street programs take on,” said Monica Santos-Pinacho, CREDC’s director of communications.
Santos-Pinacho said that tour guests from different cities were talking on the bus about similar issues they’re facing, as well as about different parts of the county they hadn’t been to before the tour.
Each city highlighted different amenities, with some focusing more on nature — like La Center, where officials talked about opportunities for outdoor recreation — and others focusing on local businesses. In Camas, Carrie Schulstad, executive director of the Downtown Camas Association, spoke about the city’s history, from building the city out from the paper mill’s sidewalk to becoming a hub for tech companies.
“Our history has influenced who we are today,” she said.
She also took the group on a walk through Camas’ downtown, including a stop at Grains of Wrath for a beer. The group stopped for lunch in Battle Ground at Barrel Mountain Brewing.
History and more
The presentations weren’t limited to city stops, though. The group traveled on the six-city, six-hour tour via C-Tran bus. During drives between cities, the guests were treated to talks from a variety of local figures, including Vancouver’s Downtown Association Executive Director Steve Becker, Casey Wyckoff, principal with LSW Architects and CREDC board chairman, and Clark County Historical Museum Executive Director Brad Richardson, who gave an overview on the history of Main Streets and downtowns in Clark County.
Santos-Pinacho said the event was also designed to help CREDC get a better sense for what each individual city in the county has to offer, so it can go out and help recruit businesses to the area, as well as help businesses looking to grow, expand and attract talent.
“One of the things we keep hearing from businesses is they care about people wanting to be here,” she said. “Talent attraction is a key priority. We want to make sure Clark County is a place where people want to be, and it is. We want to highlight what it means to be in Clark County.”