A meeting of minds downtown

·3 min read

May 8—MOSES LAKE — On the first Friday of every month, the Downtown Moses Lake Association hosts Coffee and Conversation for business owners and others who want to express their concerns about life downtown and find out more about what's going on in the community.

"So far, we've had different guest speakers. We've had people from the city, we've had the Columbia Basin Conservation District, we've had Samaritan Hospital. We've had different entities come and do presentations," said DMLA Executive Director Rosenda Henley.

Not every Friday Coffee and Conversation involves a guest speaker, Henley said. On days when no one is invited to make a presentation, Henley said business owners and representatives of non-profits will often talk about their concerns, or discuss what they'd like to learn more about, such as how local organizations help the homeless.

Henley said the group is trying to work out a visit to the city's sleep center so that people can meet with homeless residents, talk with them and learn their stories.

"I just want to know, how can we help and what information is out there that's needed and that we can provide," she said. "It gives us an opportunity to share what we have going on, and it gives the other businesses an opportunity to talk about what they have coming up and just share about their businesses."

The Downtown Moses Lake Association, which represents businesses in the city's downtown corridor, sponsors and helps to organize a number of annual festivals and celebrations, everything from Brews & Tunes in mid-March to Sip & Stroll in mid-September, the Umani Festival at the end of September, the city's Harvest Festival, Christmas Tree Lighting and the Ag Parade.

The DMLA also runs the Obra Project, a small business incubator located at 205 S. Division St. The Obra Project, which gives up-and-coming entrepreneurs an opportunity to find out if they have what it takes to make a go of running a business, just celebrated its first anniversary in April.

Henley said the conversations began last year but were moved to Friday mornings from Monday mornings because it was more convenient for many business owners to meet that day.

"I think that worked out for a little bit, but when I came in, a few people asked that we move it to Fridays because it was easier for them to come in," Henley said. "Some shops don't open on Monday."

Henley describes the meetings, which are typically held at Mason's Place in the Smith Martin Building at 102 E. Third Ave., as successful so far in bringing interested business people together. Anyone who wants to attend is invited to come, she added.

"Everybody who wants to join us is welcome," Henley said. "It really is a great opportunity for anybody who comes who wants to talk. And so far it's been pretty good."

For more information, contact the DMLA at 509-770-1700 or visit their website at downtownmoseslake.org.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.