GRANDVIEW - Changing the face of an entire downtown area is a goal that takes longer than a month to accomplish. However, 17 students from the University of Washington's business and economic development program have been working hard to at least get a foothold on Grandview's downtown revitalization efforts.
Since late April, the students have been working with the owners of seven downtown businesses, helping them to come up with new marketing plans, as well as with the City of Grandview and the Grandview Chamber of Commerce. The group has been taking a look at both individual businesses and the downtown corridor as a whole, looking for ways to make the area more inviting to customers.
Dr. Mary Ann Odegaard, a professor at the University of Washington business school, said her students have been in Grandview several times since they started the project. She said the students, who most recently visited the community last weekend, have been busy learning about their assigned businesses, as well as learning more about the community itself.
She noted that the last time the students were in town they met with their individual business owners and also took time to get to know the Yakima Valley as a region. Odegaard said the students toured businesses from Yakima to Kennewick and had a chance to meet with Tim Dalton, the executive director of the Kennewick downtown revitalization project.
"One of the very interesting things we learned is people shouldn't expect immediate results," Odegaard said of Dalton's presentation.
She said besides touring other businesses her students have also met with Grandview representatives, including City Administrator Jim Sewell.
"I think everyone now has an idea about the process [of revitalization]," Odegaard said.
She added that since the students' last trip to Grandview they have been hard at work putting together their final reports, which should be done in early June.
Odegaard added that although their final reports will be presented in the next couple of weeks, several students will continue to work on the revitalization efforts, doing special projects throughout the year. She added that another group of students will be returning to Grandview next spring to pick up where this group of students is leaving off.
"I think we've learned a lot this year, but we still have a lot to learn," she said.
Grandview Chamber of Commerce President Jim Herriman said it's important for people to realize that this is a two-year project.
"They're trying to establish some ground rules right now," Herriman said.
He added that he has been happy to see that community welcome Odegaard and her students with open arms, helping them to better understand Grandview and the surrounding area.
"I think it's great they're taking on this community as a project," Herriman said.