Craig Holt, a longtime business owner and Olympia Downtown Association board member, was named 2016 Person of the Year during the ODA’s annual meeting Monday night.
The award was announced at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts’ Black Box Theater before more than 100 people. The ODA, which advocates on behalf of downtown businesses, has a long tradition of recognizing those who contribute to downtown.
Downtown business owner Mary Corso, who runs Courtyard Antiques, presented the award to Holt, who owns The Other Guys, which has been providing IT support since 1993.
“He knows what giving is, he knows how to be a good volunteer, and when someone needed something done, he raised his hand, and we appreciate it,” Corso said. “He gives 100 percent to everything he does.”
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Holt has served on the ODA board since 2007 and was board president in 2015.
In addition to awards, Monday’s gathering also served as an update on downtown. Current board president Dave Wasson highlighted some downtown accomplishments in 2016. Among them: 29 new businesses, 121 new jobs and more than $12 million of private investment, he said.
Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby — who is a former ODA board member and a downtown business owner — told the audience that 700 units of downtown housing are in the pipeline, which is some of the housing needed to accommodate the 5,000 residents who are expected to settle downtown over the next 20 years.
But Selby also acknowledged the challenges posed by the lack of affordable housing and the street community, and took a moment to reflect on the current national political climate. She donned a pink knit hat midspeech, showing support for the recent Women’s March that took place in Olympia and throughout the country this month.
“When these times feel overwhelming, take care of yourself and control what you can,” she said. “I love that we have a passionate, smart, caring community, and we’re going to work through this.”
“Stay strong,” she told the business owners. “We’re going to get through the uncertainty. Turn those lights on, unlock those doors, and get the ‘open’ sign turned around.”
Other winners announced Monday:
▪ Downtown Business of the Year: Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters.
▪ Volunteer of the Year: Tim Koehler of Selden’s of Olympia.
▪ Volunteers in Paint golden paint brush winners: Mary Corso and Alan Erickson.
Board President Wasson also told the audience that the ODA expects to fill the executive director position by the end of February. Board member Becci Welsh is the interim executive director. Former executive director Vida Zvirzdys-Farler parted ways with the ODA on Jan. 20.