Business is booming in Downtown Washington.
Since 2017, roughly 20 businesses have moved into, expanded or are set to open this summer in the downtown area.
That’s according to Downtown Washington Inc. Executive Director Bridgette Kelch, who attributes the growth to confidence in the economy.
“It definitely is an upswing,” Kelch said. “I think the economy is really starting to recover. I’m no economic forecaster, but I think we’re seeing signs that things are getting better.”
New businesses like Olivino’s Tasting Bar, Main Street Creamery and others have recently opened their doors downtown while local staples like The Painted Home completing expansion projects.
The influx of businesses, Kelch said, is filling up many of the once vacant storefronts downtown. She said if the growth continues, space could become sparse for new businesses.
Limited space isn’t a bad problem to have, she was quick to say.
“It’s forcing us to take an inventory and see what space is available,” Kelch said. “It would be a wonderful problem to have no place to put someone. We would definitely find a solution, but it’s not a bad thing.”
Most new businesses and expansions have taken place on Main and Elm streets, Kelch said. But surrounding streets like Jefferson and Second streets are also attracting new businesses.
Kelch said if Downtown Washington is prosperous the rest of the community will benefit from it, and vice versa. She said, in her experience, when one part of Washington does well, the others typically follow.
“I’ve always likened the health of the community to wheels on a car,” she said. :So when you have two great retail areas, downtown and all the amenities on the highway, it’s no good if one of them is struggling.”
Some of the new businesses opening downtown in the next year include The Pot Shop on Elm Street; Street Side Tacos on Front Street; and Vino di Lafayette on Lafayette Street.
Kelch is encouraging residents to come downtown and check out the new businesses.
“It’s exciting for new things to come through and folks really should come downtown and if they haven’t and explore all the new things,” she said.