West Seattle Business Report 2017

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February 28, 2018
 Press Release:  March 1, 2018
New study on challenges to West Seattle businesses
identifies parking, rising costs, and relationship to City of Seattle
Extensive interviews with business owners throughout West Seattle
Recommendations include peninsula-wide marketing effort
West Seattle, WA: A new study directed by West Seattle Chamber of Commerce and West Seattle Junction Association, funded by the Office of Economic Development, set to identify the biggest challenges facing West Seattle businesses.
The challenges listed were:
Tangible Challenges Intangible Challenges
They are physical, direct challenges that are harming businesses. These challenges are based in emotion or perspective.
Parking & Transportation Relationship with City of Seattle
Cost of Doing Business in Seattle Feeling of Helplessness
Homelessness Loss of Community Feel
“The goals of this project were to determine the key challenges that West Seattle businesses face, identify common threads between business nodes, and collect information on key resources available to the community. The results of the report gave us the forum to have impactful conversations with business owners.” said Lora Swift, Executive Director of WSJA. “Now our organizations (WSJA and WSCC) have a deeper understanding of the challenges in West Seattle, and how we can build a better business community by combining the strengths of our organizations.”
The qualitative study was done through 32 in-depth interviews primarily with small business owners in the seven business nodes (Alaska Junction, Morgan, Alki, Avalon, Admiral, 35th, Westwood Village) and a few community stakeholders, all located in West Seattle.
 There were four recommendations from the report:
1)      Market West Seattle to New Residents
2)      Close Divide Between City of Seattle and West Seattle Businesses
3)      Continue Hosting Solutions-Focused Programming
4)      Get Involved in West Seattle Mural Project
Selected quotes from interviews:
“We fell in love with this place. After looking all over the city, we decided that unless we could live and work in West Seattle, we weren’t going to move [to Seattle].”
-Small business owner on Alki

“Parking is the biggest challenge. My business depends on people getting in and out quickly. Lack of parking would drive us out of the Junction.”
-Small business owner in the Junction

“I feel that the Seattle City Council sees business as an adversary and a checkbook.”
-Business owner in Alki

“We feel helpless at times. We hope it will get better, but it’s exhausting.”
 -Small business owner in the Alaska Junction

“That’s my biggest fear, that people will move in
and turn West Seattle into a bedroom community for downtown.”
-Small business owner in the Junction

“The new minimum wage is killing the restaurant business.”
-Restaurant owner on Alki

“Well, do we go back to dumpster diving for packing materials?
Would we do that for our employees to have health insurance?
 I guess we would.”

-Retail business owner in Avalon

“I don’t feel like the city cares about small business. They care about Trader Joes.
We’re just a blink.”
-Small business owner in the Alaska Junction

“The partnership of the WS Junction Association and the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce allows two organizations, each with a small professional staff, to make a positive impact on the business community. Using this information, we are moving forward.  Immediately after the study, an application was completed and a 2018 grant from the Office of Economic Development gives us seed money for a pilot program marketing West Seattle to new residents.” - Lynn Dennis, CEO, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
The Junction is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that was developed to pay for the parking lots in the Junction. The Junction Association merchants produce many community events throughout the year including Art Walk (year round 2nd Thursdays), Summer Fest (July), West Seattle Outdoor Movies (July-August) Harvest Festival (October) and Hometown Holidays (December). In addition, the Junction Association merchants pay to keep the streets of the Junction safe & clean, plus we fund the 95 flower baskets that beautify the Junction from May through September.
 The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) that has served as the leading advocate for the West Seattle business community since 1923.  A volunteer-based group of businesses and individuals takes advantage of benefits including networking opportunities, educational programs and a unified voice in governmental affairs that impact our business environment.  The Chamber focuses on the sustainable economic growth of a diverse, viable business community on the West Seattle peninsula. 

2017 West Seattle Business Report (click here)

Lora Swift                                                                                Lynn Dennis
West Seattle Junction Association                                     West Seattle Chamber of Commerce
lora@wsjunction.org                                                            lynn@wschamber.com
206.935.0904                                                                        206.932.5685