Downtown Washington Inc.’s Board of Directors announced the upcoming departure of Bridgette Kelch as its executive director by the end of September.
“The organization is well-positioned for this type of leadership change. A transition team is in place and operating from a succession plan that the board and staff have been developing over the past few years,” said board President Jim Wurdack.
“Bridgette will be staying in touch to assist the organization and new director through the transition,” he added.
Wurdack said Kelch has been a great asset to the organization.
“Her passion, energy and commitment have been a key to many of our successes and the board is extremely grateful for her nearly 20 years of service,” he said. “She will be missed by our staff, board, community partners and the downtown community on whose behalf she worked so hard.
Wurdack said Kelch has helped put into place a great board and staff that will continue the work of the organization.
“We are very excited about the direction of downtown and confident about the future of both downtown and Downtown Washington Inc,” he said. “We wish Bridgette the best as she moves on to other opportunities.”
Over the next couple of weeks, the board will conduct a national search to find a new executive director.
During this transition period, Wurdack said it will be the board’s priority to find the best individual to lead the organization’s revitalization efforts, while still maintaining a stable and effective organization.
Since February 2001, Kelch has played a critical role in the development and success of the organization and of downtown, officials said.
During her tenure, the organization and its impact in the community have grown with over $55 million in public/private investment, 92 net new businesses and over 245 net new jobs in the downtown area and over 93,000 volunteer hours at work.
Other major accomplishments include:
• Washington being named a Great American Main Street Community in 2012.
• Coordinated business plans to create sustainable revenues by rehabilitating the Farmers’ Market and post office facilities. The Farmers’ Market capital project was a $1 million public/private partnership with the city, Chamber and Downtown Washington, Inc. The post office was a $750,000 capital project.
• Washington being named one of the first five DREAM Communities in 2006.
• Helped secure a Community Development Block Grant for over $1.75 million and a $1 million EDA grant.
• Served as Department of Economic Development Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) grant administrator for four NAP grants totaling over $1 million.
• Earned the Certified Main Street Manager status through the National Main Street Certification Institute.
• Founding member of the Missouri Main Street Connection in 2004 and Historic Washington Foundation in 2006.
• Mentored the start up of the Arts Council of Washington.
• Washington being named a Success Story in 2018 by National Main Street Center — one of only five in the nation.
• Renovated, managed and maintained three historic buildings in the downtown district.
• Established, directed and operated the post office CPU with annual retail sales over $450K and created/opened a lodging business (Gottfried’s Cabin).
• Orchestrated over 85 days of special events/trainings in any given year attracting over 85,000-plus participants.
• Worked closely with two boards of directors, serving 21 board members each year.
• Implemented over 60 action plans yearly (these plans are volunteer driven with measurable outcomes driving the development of processes and programs to ensure future viability for downtown).