City of Pullman creates new position to increase business development

Development manager hired to supervise local economic growth



Michael Kelly, co-owner of Michelle’s Closet, says big companies such as Walmart make it difficult for local businesses to thrive, so it’s vital for small businesses to distinguish themselves by providing products and services large chains don’t offer.

KATLYN COOK, Evergreen reporter

The city of Pullman recently hired an economic development manager to create a plan to increase the business presence in Pullman. The city council will assess.

Jennifer Hackman said she is looking to use her past experiences in economic development to increase the success of businesses in Pullman. She will work alongside the city council and other local organizations, she said.

She said a way to increase foot traffic for Pullman businesses is to expand businesses’ social media presence to help them reach a point where they can hold longer business hours without losing money.

“We’d love to see traffic grow to the point where more of our businesses take the plunge and stay open past 5 p.m.,” she said.

The co-owners of Michelle’s Closet, Michelle and Michael Kelly, have worked to use social media to advertise their business, Michael Kelly said.

“I think that it helps with spreading word-of-mouth. That’s when we’ve seen an increase in the numbers entering our store,” Michael Kelly said.

Michelle Kelly said that’s the only thing they use to promote their business because it is a lot cheaper than radio advertising.

Hackman said people have shown interest in bringing new businesses to town.

Pullman’s population grew by 6.8 percent in the last five years while jobs increased by 11.5 percent, Hackman said.

“We have mad skills that translates into real potential for businesses of all kinds,” she said.

Hackman said WSU increases the diversity of Pullman and helps shape and support the businesses that are here.

“The university creates knowledge, and knowledge turns into innovations, and innovations turn into businesses,” she said.

Hackman said she’d love to work with WSU to help more students start small businesses in Pullman.

Michael Kelly said that big businesses such as Walmart make it harder to compete, but recommends businesses find a way to distinguish themselves and their products, which will help them thrive.

Hackman said there are many resources available to support businesses at every stage. The city is revamping its website to help people get access to other resources more easily. There will be links to organizations listed on the website, she said.

Michelle Kelly said that she and her husband received help from multiple city resources including the Pullman Chamber of Commerce when they were trying to start their business.

Hackman said she will help assist business owners in identifying the resources available to them.

She said she wants to help support the driving industries that have been identified by various sources and plans such as the Pullman 2040 plan, which attempts to improve businesses through collaboration and feedback.

“I support those businesses that contribute to the vitality of the city — the restaurants, shops and services that create shared experiences,” Hackman said.