On June 14th, the Sedro-Woolley Downtown Association hosted the community in a series of brainstorming and work sessions to develop ideas and actionable projects in which to build a work plan for our non-profit organization.  

To generate a list of ideas, projects and initiatives from the community
that are inclusive, feasible and practical in which to develop a workplan for the SWDA. 

Over 50 people showed up and engaged to develop over 150 ideas, 90 of which we have determined to be actionable over the next few years.  We have organized the ideas by assigning them to one of our 4 Washington Main Street committees. Economic Vitality, Promotion, Design and Organization.  And then, each idea was sorted by complexity and time frame to completion.  The end result is a list of ideas, many of which could be turned into projects for Revitalizing Sedro-Woolley.  The SWDA will be putting together a workplan for the next several years based on this information and we hope that you will get involved. Please consider volunteering for one or more of these projects.   Volunteer!

Special Thanks to:

  • Mayor Julia Johnson for opening the meeting with your encouraging words
  • For the Strong Support of our City Council in attendance
  • City of Sedro-Woolley for the use of the facilities and your support
  • The SWDA Board and Volunteers that helped us facilitate the event
  • Big Thank You to everyone that Attended and Contributed!

The top TEN ideas were:

  1. Create more family friendly spaces and activities
  2. Remove the Awnings
  3. Creating a trailhead into Downtown
  4. Restoring the wood carvings
  5. Creating an Art Center
  6. More Green Spaces Downtown
  7. Community Theater
  8. Downtown Beautification (Many Ideas)
  9. More / Better Signage leading people to Downtown
  10. Industrial Park, Cleanup and Open up to Downtown.

Economic Vitality (EV) Committee
This committee is responsible for recruiting new businesses, creatively converting unused space for new uses, and sharpening the competitiveness of Downtown Sedro-Woolley’s merchants.  These are the top 3 ideas for the EV Committee, sorted by popularity:

#1 Enhance and Beautify Skagit Industrial Park.  Pushing the road through from Cook Road was an exciting idea, finding a new buyer/investor for a strip mall or other businesses running through into downtown.  At the very least, plant trees along the barb wire fence. Beautify.

#2 Empty Spaces in the downtown district were of great concern.  The Community would like to see us actively recruiting new businesses and many ideas were given.  Bike Shop, a new Hotel, Sushi Restaurant, Ice Cream, Wine Shop and more services for locals to use.

#3 An Incubator Space, business help, incentives and services for new businesses to move in and be successful were brought up over and over again.  Also attracting new industries downtown.

  • Better Internet
  • Valley Added Farming
  • Expanding Farmers Market
  • Property Tax Diversion Downtown
  • Create new business space
  • Incentives to new business
  • STEM Building
  • Traffic Pattern Assessments
  • More new industry
  • RV Parking
  • Upper Floor Housing
  • Fix old hotel

Organization Committee
Works with business and property owners, bankers, citizens, historic preservationists, entrepreneurs, public officials, chambers of commerce, and other local economic development organizations to build partnerships and overcome challenges to Revitalization.  Here are the top ideas assigned to this committee:

#1 Removing or Replacing the Awnings Downtown was very important to people.  A consistent theme, or removal all together to bring us back to historic look and feel.

#2 Creating One-way Street through Metcalf was generally accepted and discussed often.  The benefits being safety, places to hang out, lunch spaces and greenery.

#3 Penalizing and Incentivizing landlords for being good stewards was very important to the group.  Many buildings were discussed as well as the challenges around communicating with absentee landlords.

Other thoughts and ideas included:

  • Create more defined parking
  • Minimize Bars
  • Less Waste
  • Air BNB Training
  • Create a Volunteer Group
  • Businesses Open on Sunday
  • Remove big truck parking
  • More Public Restrooms

Design Committee
This committee enhances the look and feel of the commercial district. Historic building rehabilitation, street and alley clean-up, landscaping, street furniture, signage, visual merchandising and lighting all improve the physical image of the downtown as a quality place to shop, work, walk, invest in, and live.  Here are the top ideas assigned to the Design Committee:

#1 Creating a better experience at the Roundabouts.  Another city project, but creating a consistent message leading people downtown was an important topic of discussion.  Make them more beautiful, more dynamic signs and local art could make the spaces more appealing and welcoming.

#2 Restoring the wood carvings was a popular discussion point.  The community generally thought of them as symbols of pride and beautiful artwork that makes us unique.

#3 Creation of an “Art Center” was talked about by every group.  A community gathering place that is consistent with more family activities and places to be downtown.  Performing Arts, Music Festivals, School age artists and STEM were all mentioned.

Other thoughts and ideas included:

  • Recycle Bins
  • Trail Systems
  • Mt. Bike Park
  • Brand and Aesthetic Standards
  • Performing Arts
  • Art Walk
  • Pedestrian Safety
  • Downtown Trails
  • Bike Stands
  • Preserve / Add more Murals
  • Unique Flowers downtown
  • Landscaping
  • History Plaques

Promotion Committee
This committee creates excitement and vibrancy downtown. Street festivals, parades, retail events, and image development campaigns. Promotion involves marketing an enticing image to shoppers, investors, and visitors. Here are the top ideas assigned to the Promotions Committee:

#1 There was a lot of interest in attracting or building a Community Theater.

#2 Every group discussed expanding the Farmers Market, including expanding the space, closing a street and in general making it larger.  Also attracting some different "Industries" was mentioned.  Tradesman.  A more family friendly schedule.  

#3 Creating a new brand for Sedro-Woolley was discussed often.  Equally discussed was to either create a new image, embracing our history or do we just cleanup and maintain our current image.

Other thoughts and ideas included:

  • Bike Races
  • Side Walk Sales
  • Drone Races
  • Expand Business Hours
  • Wine Activities
  • Night Life
  • More food trucks
  • Activity map
  • More festivals and activities
  • Music Festival
  • Video of City

Pre-Event Questions
Weeks before the event we used social media and our email list to gather even more data that is worth noting.  Here are highlights to those Questions and Answers from the poll.

  • What is our Communities Greatest Achievement
    • Longevity by reinventing our economy as needed.
    • Staying alive after the timber and housing collapse
    • Longevity
    • Loggerodeo and parade
    • Recently, the regional library.
    • Retaining its authenticity
    • Woolley market great to have a store within walking distance and brings people together.
    • Loggerodeo.
    • Acquisition of Northern State property from the state into local control.
    • 4th of July celebration
    • Loggerodeo
    • Building a sense of community and belonging
    • Surviving the era of extractive industry, welcoming innovation.
    • L ocal first... we don't have a starbucks and we don't need one!
  • What makes us proud?
    • Being an “inclusive” town
    • Hometown ties.
    • Sending our kids to college. Lack of issues of larger cities
    • Annual events, logger rodeo, farmers markets
    • Friendly people, peaceful town.
    • Our history
    • I like the comprehensive recycling center and curbside service,the Woolley Market, the sense of a community with progressive values .
    • Hometown pride, whether it's for a sports team, a local event, business,  history or any local's success. The hometown pride is huge and genuine in this town.
    • community, acceptance, growth, support
    • Community
    • Our high school seniors.  These kids are amazing be it academics,  sports or community service.
    • Community and patriotism
    • Our ability to interact with the natural world around us and be welcoming to all people.
    • Great small-town vibe
    • Some themes that come to mind: authentic, hard-working, relaxed, family focused. I'd like S-W to be known as the "kindness capital" of Western Washington, but that is somewhat aspirational.
    • Can-do heritage
    • Community
    • No strip malls!
    • The active community is amazing. I think we have a diverse and broad-base of volunteer support in Sedro-Woolley!  
  • How do our strengths fit into the surrounding communities?
    • Pride in our rich history .
    • Desirable living.
    • Great eating establishments draw people from other areas. Wonderful community atmosphere great civic groups that give back to others.
    • Working together as a team to build a strong community
    • Similar strengths and history
    • Every community deserves its own uniqueness. Sedro-Woolley is an interesting place that likely complements the other small towns around here.
    • Sedro-Woolley is an exception to the other communities in this county.  The town has a soul. There isn't anything pretentious about S-W, it's authentic and proud of its history and present day successes.  In S-W a family can own a home in a neighborhood where neighbors know and care about one another. Kids can walk to town for ice cream and play in parks without fear or worry.  The community is supportive and generous.
    • Sedro Woolley is shedding it's "hard" past and slowly becoming a place families from around WA want to move to.
    • Farming and logging
    • We are a tight knit community.  These kids grew up in families that care about the community.  They are our future. Let's keep them involved.
    • Our events compliment each other vs compete. I think it important to work with the other communities to help improve ours. Burlington is in much the same place as we are.
    • I think that S-W is always going to be "casual central" for the Skagit Valley
    • Resourceful, practical knowhow, good partner & neighbor, ability and desire to collaborate.
    • I think we could embrace small town and attempt to create a unified image for what Sedro Woolley wants to be.
  • How do we differentiate ourselves?
    • Pride in the town and festivals downtown.  And we have an identifiable "downtown".
    • Small town America
    • Age, sex, hopefully not by color.
    • Not sure but I feel like we have kept to the continuity with out urban sprawl.
    • We have a more "rural" feel
    • Promote the reasons why S-W is special.  Celebrate the history and small town feel.  Great neighborhoods, sweet downtown with fabulous restaurants, shops...businesses that are involved in the community, exceptional schools, affordability, wonderful recreational opportunities.
    • To become a more walkable small town.  Local businesses. Supporting one another.
    • Community
    • Our unique and rich history.  Logging. We have a rodeo and allow riding into town. Plus,  as stated earlier, we are tight knit, like family.
    • As a Hometown community
    • Really accessible, user-friendly spaces, lots of opportunities for people to connect.
    • I like the idea of surprise - "You'd be surprised by our food" or "You'd be surprised by our diversity" or "You'd be surprised by our history" - "Sedro-Woolley -- a city full of pleasant surprises"
    • personable, practically progressive
    • Sedro Woolley is off the beaten path. We still have nature and handmade goods as well as being close to major amenities.
    • Fiercely independent!
  • What are our new marketing opportunities?
    • There are plenty of affluent people in our neighborhoods and people with discretionary income we need to have nice places to go that attract that clientele. This does not mean things have to be expensive. They just want places that are clean and modern and comfortable to be at.
    • Professionals moving in want higher quality of tech availability and options for housing.
    • Younger generations, millennials
    • Craft brew, food, coffee, local grocery.
    • High tech and innovative technology companies that will be attracted to the plans for the SWIFT Center.  Great jobs which will support retail and restaurants, low impact on community. Folks wanting to leave the frantic lifestyle of the greater Seattle area and settle down to small town with a variety of opportunities including great schools, safe community and beautiful setting.  
    • Everything and everyone. Hopefully we start to more diversity in our community.
    • Tourists
    • I know this isn't what you mean but it's ridiculous that we don't have a second full service grocery store.
    • 2nd hand and antiques appear to be drawing a large group of people. This targets the younger families specifically.
    • Visitors/people passing through, families looking to move to the area, people looking for a great place to live and recreate.
    • Taproom, great food, local made goods
    • I think we need to get the Skagit Valley to love Sedro-Woolley first, then we can go looking for new markets elsewhere. Maybe the focus should be on the three Fs - Friendly, Festive and Foodie. Nature should also be a theme.
    • Value adding networks connecting food, agriculture, low impact rec/eco-tourism,  value adding forestry.
    • Visitors getting away from the city
    • A true American experience and capitalize on our position at the corner of HWY 9 & 20.
  • What do we care deeply about?
    • Family and history. Perfectly paired with growth and industry so that people may thrive here and not have to go elsewhere for work.
    • Preserving hometown flavor and ties.
    • Kids, country and freedom
    • Strong community, safe environment
    • Family, safety, quiet, neighbors.
    • People and our history
    • The environment
    • Our community, it's history and the organizations, businesses, neighborhoods that make up S-W.
    • Community, Acceptance, Open to change, growth-keeping current.
    • Family and our way of life.
    • Our neighbors. Our businesses. Our children.  Our elderly.
    • Community safety, a place for families.
    • Inclusion and conservation
    • Our town and it's people
    • Our future, our children, our neighbors.
    • Healthy ecosystems, quality of life
    • Community involvement. Children and fellowship
    • Sedro-Woolley is a family friendly city and we care more about our friends and neighbors than we do mindless corporations based in other states!
  • Who should we become?
    • A new modern versions of ourselves. A town that is rich in history, embraces family but that is not afraid to grow and enter the 21st-century
    • A clean, sustainable, crime-free city with neighborliness and robust local businesses.
    • I would like us to stay who we are but better, a great place to visit and live but let's not over develop and over crowd ourselves.
    • A compassionate community
    • More progressive
    • S-W doesn't need to become anything new.  The town will continue to attract interest as businesses move and or expand and people discover how special this place is.  
    • Fun, Quirky, a place people want to visit and live. Walking and biking-FRIENDLY
    • Community that provides local jobs
    • "We should embrace our past to remain different. We can build on it,  tweak it to market it. People like our history. Perhaps history stories could be shared around town somehow.  Painted, etc.
    • I don't want to be a Burlington or Lynnwood."
    • We need to stay us, close to the roots of our uniqueness and continue to grow this.
    • Inclusive of all
    • More well-rounded. A few things are done very well. We probably can't make the Loggerrodeo much better. So what else can we do? Woodfest is great, and will get better. But how do we fill in the calendar with fun things that have both internal support and external appeal? We've agreed to invest in a new library, and that's great. How do we support that and also other investments in our community. More parks and more greenery downtown. More youth events.
    • Human beings capable of productive community discourse and stewardship.
    • Something new. Be the change we want the world to be. Join together to get downtown off grid or at least feeding more electricity into grid than we use. Minimize waste at all business and praise those leading the way
    • A city easy for residents to live in and love, and that success will be attractive to outsiders.
  • What measures will tell us we are on track to Revitalize Sedro-Woolley?
    • Population growth and a housing boom will be good indicators. Also an increase in jobs with living wages.
    • Working a plan to improve infrastructure and appearance, all downtown storefronts filled with profitable businesses, eyesore buildings removed/rebuilt, buried utilities in the CBD, lower sewer/garbage fees, lower property taxes due to increased volume in sales taxes.
    • Empty spaces leased, roads and sidewalks fixed, school zone signs!
    • Healthy and robust community
    • When Abbott's Alley is complete and fully occupied.
    • Businesses growing and moving in, pride in rehabilitating and improving buildings.  Community involvement in events and attracting the interest from folks outside the area.
    • community feedback
    • People want to live here
    • Track revenue, traffic, very regular surveys to parl business owners and staff.  
    • Successful events thank bring new people to our town.
    • More people interacting with the downtown and getting involved.
    • No empty storefronts, downtown businesses thriving.
    • I would ask graduating seniors of SWHS whether they want to live in or around Sedro-Woolley 20 years from now, whether they want to call S-W home. If that's 5% today, it should be 10% in five year and 15% in 10 years. I would measure our community-building success in terms of how many young people want to come back and live here. It's probably not a lot today, but improving that number would be a good measure of success. More specifically to downtown, foot traffic seems like benchmark to measure interest in the downtown neighborhood.
    • Affordable housing (reduction in homelessness), 21st century jobs (support systems for entrepreneurs and innovation), active community.
    • Visitor traffic and business satisfaction
    • Fewer empty storefronts & homes for sale.
    • Local business growth within the city and more money being spent in Sedro-Woolley by Sedro-Woolley residents.
  • How do we know when we’ve achieved our goals?
    • When it’s time to set new ones.
    • Clean, inviting downtown appearance (no overhead utilities), near-zero crime rate, city permitting and regulations rated as "easy to do business with", continuously improving street and sidewalk (infrastructure) conditions, aging buildings given a fresh appearance, indoor town square for events.
    • You see the community coming together
    • Seeing change happen in reasonable space and time.
    • When the existing vacant buildings are upgraded and occupied
    • It will be obvious.  Successful business activity in downtown and a buzz about what is happening in S-W!
    • Goals are always moving and shifting,strive to always build off our goals to keep up with change, growth and the future.
    • More housing.
    • Media attention, business owners downtown,  sales tax revenue
    • This never ends. We should always be pressing forward.
    • Long term, active stores and well attended events (blast, farmers market, loggerodeo,etc).
    • Improvement in quality of life.
    • When we are able to utilize resources fully and have minimal waste.
    • No empty storefronts on Metcalf St.
    • We should ALWAYS strive to do better. I see the problem of Sedro-Woolley currently is that folks thought they had the answer, cross their arms waiting, and nothing happened.