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Larsen meets with Arlington's DABA

 

January 31, 2018 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, left, and 2018 Downtown Arlington Business Association President Lisa Cisneros talk on Jan. 24 about the work the association is currently doing.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen stopped by downtown Arlington on Jan. 24 to meet with local leaders from the Downtown Arlington Business Association to learn about how the organization is doing.

The Downtown Arlington Business Association (DABA) works to support the businesses in the historic downtown Arlington area.

They also work each year to put on events that bring people to the downtown area.

"Our goal is to support businesses for the community and we like to draw people to the downtown, so there is that element of tourism," said Cristy Brubaker, treasurer and secretary for DABA.

The biggest events they put on each year are the Arlington Street Fair and the Show & Shine Car Show, but the organization also sponsors parts of events like Hometown Halloween, Hometown Holidays and the Eagle Festival as well.

The organization has grown in the last couple of years, with more than 100 members now.

"We've got a lot more businesses on board," said Lisa Cisneros, 2018 DABA president and owner of Olympic Escrow.

Brubaker said that it can be hard to get the corporate businesses to come out, but many like Burger King and Auto Zone still provide support to their events even if they're not members.

"We like people to be our members, but if not we're still going to encourage people to make use of them," she said.

DABA recently reprinted their business brochures which provide a map to local businesses and services.

Cisneros said exposure is one of the biggest reasons she wanted to join DABA.

"There were so many times where people would say 'I had no idea there was escrow in Arlington,'" she said. "And not everyone knows there's an Edward Jones down here."

Officials with DABA also hope to support the long-time staples of the downtown.

Larsen, who was raised in Arlington, said that the town "still has those iconic fixtures," like the Arlington Hardware he grew up with.

"I met with the folks who have the Olympic Theater now and they're trying to repurpose that space," he said.

Cisneros said the theater, which was purchased by the Lifeway Foursquare Church, has been a great addition to local festivals.

"During the festivals they have the shows for kids," she said.

The theater also frequently doesn't charge for its events, said Brubaker.

"And [during DABA's car show] if you got a fire helmet from the fire department, you could get it filled with popcorn," she said.

The theater can also be used as a space for other events as well.

"You can have a speaker come into that venue and just have a little 'how to use Facebook better' or give a topic like that," said Brubaker, which is something DABA has been considering putting on.

"We can use the council chambers too, but having it in the theater gets you in the ambience," she said.

The city of Arlington has also helped DABA recently by joining the Main Street Program, which is meant to connect historic street leaders with resources.

"There are four of us that are going to be going to the conference in Port Townsend," said Brubaker.

"And we're excited about that because there are many tools that you get," she said.

Brubaker said that the city sometimes focuses more on areas like the manufacturing-industrial center which have the potential for more new business, but lately have been helpful in revitalization efforts.

"We are getting support from the city, although sometimes have felt that the push is out there in manufacturing areas," she said.

"Now that Sarah Lopez is the revitalization coordinator for the city, she and Mayor Barb Tolbert are helping focus on the downtown," said Brubaker.

DABA is an autonomous organization under the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber and DABA have frequently worked together in the past, and Brubaker said that collaboration has increased since their new executive director Jennifer Egger came on board last year.

"She has been great to work with so our collaboration has multiplied," said Brubaker.

The chamber is helping host a Country Charm Walk at the Eagle Festival that came as part of the partnership.

The difference between the organizations is that the chamber tends to try and help all businesses throughout the Arlington area.

Cisneros said they are actually reaching further out now into areas like Silvana and Darrington, and are considering changing their name to reflect a focus on the entire Stillaguamish Valley area.

Larsen said it was good having the chamber reach out there. "There's a lot going out there, there's just no umbrella for it," he said.

In contrast, DABA is more about the area around Olympic Avenue. "We focus on just the downtown," said Cisneros.

Brubaker said DABA appeals more to those small business owners who may be the only people running their shop, and therefore can't close down in the middle of the day to attend a meeting.

More information about the Downtown Arlington Business Association is available at arlingtonwa.org.

 

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