Monthly Staff Feature: Chris Woodward, Alliance for Pioneer Square Business Development Director

As Business Development Director at the Alliance for Pioneer Sqaure, Chris implements the Alliance for Pioneer Square’s business development strategy by creating strong relationships and finding innovative approaches to amplify the neighborhood’s ethos. Recently, Chris shared his thoughts/feelings over recent months and why he is optimistic both about the near term and long term future for Pioneer Square.

This past year has seen you change roles at the Alliance, which also coincided with the start of a global pandemic. How has that been and how are you feeling now?

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted all parts of everyone’s lives. Throughout 2020 and into 2021, my work at the Alliance for Pioneer Square evolved in ways I never thought imaginable. Though, how can one predict a once-in-a-lifetime event? I quickly adapted the mantra of “a crisis is an opportunity” to better understand my role supporting Pioneer Square.

The opportunity in the crisis involved creativity, community, and collaboration. Myself and the Alliance team were able to nimbly create and/or expand programs to assist the Pioneer Square community. I deeply attribute our success to established and new partnerships with neighborhood stakeholders and city partners, as well as working with a talented team of colleagues. Looking forward, those relationships will continue to benefit Pioneer Square as the neighborhood and our city emerge from the pandemic. 

What projects were you proud to be involved in this year/ do you consider positively impacted Pioneer Square?

The Alliance team worked very hard both in 2020/2021 to identify projects and programs to support Pioneer Square during this challenging period in the neighborhood’s history. Many of the projects and programs we focused on last year are still active. The entirety of the Alliance team should be proud of our work the past 14 months- from the rapid mural program that beautified our streets while storefronts were boarded to the COVID-19 retail kits that we delivered to businesses. Beyond those projects, I am proud of the evolution of existing programs that were re-worked to meet the germaine challenges Pioneer Square faced during the pandemic, such as the Pioneer Square Monthly series and 2020-2021 Map and Guide. 

While this has always been part of your role, tell us why focusing on community relationships and communication has been especially important this year? 

I believe that both interpersonal relationships and communication are important to all aspects of personal and professional life. The pandemic created a windfall of challenges for all, but also the opportunity to develop relationships and lines of communication, both within the neighborhood and across the city. I am grateful for the Pioneer Square, and City of Seattle community for exemplifying togetherness during the last year. Those relationships sparked learning, ideas, and trust in a critical moment.  I am hopeful that the relationships formed and strengthened over the past year will further serve Pioneer Square in the future.

Moving forward, how does the Alliance focus on neighborhood growth while still providing opportunities to strengthen businesses?

Moving forward, the Alliance will focus on continuing working for and with Pioneer Square. The Alliance has done well to build a robust set of programs to support the neighborhood while also building a strong community. Looking forward, the opportunities for Pioneer Square are boundless- from creative uses of commercial space to forming unique partnerships. The Alliance will continue to serve as a steward, a connector, and an advocate so that as Pioneer Square develops we learn, grow, and move forward together.

The current atmosphere is cautiously optimistic about the future, do you share the same sentiment about the near term future for Pioneer Square? 

I am optimistic both about the near term and long term future for Pioneer Square. In the near term, I expect to see more and more signals of a return to normalcy- including the return of more sports fans travelling through the neighborhood on game day, office workers reentering their office spaces, and more local visitors patronizing businesses. In the long term, Pioneer Square will see some exciting changes to the neighborhood’s landscape. Several public and private investments are currently underway that will improve the pedestrian experience, promote tourism, and add to the vibrancy of our business mix. There’s no doubt the future of Pioneer Square is bright.