Following through on plans formed with the summer financial implosion of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, a major Seattle organization has announced the formation of the Capitol Hill Business Alliance, “dedicated to serving this vital neighborhood.”
“It’s the launch of a new era of support for the Capitol Hill business community,” the Greater Seattle Business Association announcement of the new effort sent to former chamber members reads.
In May, CHS reported on the sudden closure of the Capitol Hill chamber as the nonprofit representing hundreds of neighborhood businesses cited financial difficulties for bringing an end to its advocacy and marketing efforts. In July, CHS took a deeper look at what brought down the chamber and found a failed attempt to create an expanded “Business Improvement Area” had sapped much of the remaining energy and resources of the group, plus more details of the downward trend in city funding, legal issues, and the loss of key people including director Egan Orion who left after four months to launch a City Council campaign.
The GSBA has been waiting in the wings. In May, CEO Louise Chernin told CHS about the group’s plans to help fill the void left by the chamber. “The biggest concern for businesses is Capitol Hill visibility, retaining their identity,” Chernin said at the time. “And we are absolutely committed to that because Capitol Hill is so important to GSBA — not to mention it’s one of the most important business districts in the state of Washington.”
GSBA’s plan is now moving forward. GSBA has now launched its alliance effort with plans to add a seat on the GSBA Board of Directors, as well as create an advisory board “made up of Capitol Hill business and community Leaders and a dedicated staff person.”
“The Capitol Hill Business Alliance is dedicated to ensuring a healthy, vibrant, and diverse neighborhood business community for all,” the GSBA says of the new effort. “The Alliance will provide business development, engagement, and advocacy for Capitol Hill businesses and nonprofits who are committed to the economic vitality of Capitol Hill.”
Chernin tells CHS GSBA is interviewing prospective candidates for the Capitol Hill Business Development Manager and “increasing our administrative support to ensure we have the infrastructure to provide top value to our CHBA members.”
The group says its director of public policy and government affairs Matt Landers was part of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict delegation along with citywide Seattle Council member Lorena González to study “sustainable, urban strategies” in Europe this month.
“As you can see, GSBA is fully immersed in creating a strong Capitol Hill Business Alliance to support and continue to strengthen the businesses located on Capitol Hill, the most vibrant and diverse business district in Washington State,” Chernin writes.
The group says it has the support of the City’s Office of Economic Development and “past Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce leadership.” Roughly $30,000 remaining from the city’s 2019 grant for the CHCC is lined up to go to the GSBA but that will require City Council approval.
Not everything from the chamber’s efforts on Capitol Hill will move under the GSBA umbrella. The Broadway Business Improvement Area continues to be managed independently as it administrates clean streets efforts in the neighborhood. The monthly Capitol Hill Art Walk, meanwhile, has decided to move forward on its own under the wing of the Capitol Hill Block Party.
The GSBA’s new Alliance, meanwhile, will pick up the torch for efforts like the chamber’s annual State of the Hill ceremony and Spirit of the Hill community awards as well as business education and networking efforts. Smaller efforts like the Hilloween holiday event aren’t currently mentioned ion the CHBA page.
Still, the GSBA’s Capitol Hill Business Alliance will be busy in October. There will be an Alliance kickoff event on October 8th at The Lounge by AT&T.
You can learn more at thegsba.org/CHBA.
CORRECTION: CHS identified Chernin as the founder and CEO of the GSBA. She did not found the organization. We have updated the post to remove the erroneous information.
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