Chevy Chase Main Street is one of the six accredited Main Street programs of District Bridges, an ecosystem development nonprofit working to bridge community engagement and economic development opportunities to foster equitable, resilient and connected communities in D.C. and beyond. In Chevy Chase, D.C., the Main Street corridor stretches along Connecticut Avenue NW between Livingston Street NW and the Chevy Chase Circle, as well as side streets, and includes 60-plus brick-and-mortar businesses. CCMS provides technical assistance to these businesses and organizes community events to foster engagement along the commercial corridor.
My name is Anna Claire Walker, and I began my role as the manager of CCMS at the end of August 2022. Since then, I’ve been providing technical assistance for and building relationships with business owners, identifying community partners and planning events to engage the community. The most recent event on the corridor was Spark! Art Fest and Small Business Party on Dec. 3. One of District Bridge’s strategic goals this year is to identify and prioritize external partner development to increase impact and reach of events. This goal materialized in an exciting collaboration with Chevy Chase Artists, “Ch/Art,” to form an art market and small business block party with activities and specials for all ages. Thanks to the business owners, artists and volunteer support, we were able to engage with hundreds of community members, offer free hot chocolate, host an Elsa meet and greet, include community caroling and promote 14 business specials and local artists. Through activations up and down Connecticut Avenue, we were able to encourage community members to visit local shops they’ve never visited before and increase visibility of CCMS, District Bridges and Ch/Art.
This event also served as the Chevy Chase kickoff event for DC Holiday Lights, an event in which CCMS is one of 14 participating Main Street corridors. District Bridges started DC Holiday Lights as an effort to encourage people to visit their local independent stores around the holidays. As the event has grown and participation among Main Streets increased, District Bridges has been able to organize promotional marketing opportunities to over 220 small businesses and organize a city-wide scavenger hunt to encourage engagement from community members. Businesses across the district donated over $4,500 worth of prizes for the scavenger hunt, which included taking selfies with decorated businesses, searching for hidden codes and a fun trivia question for each neighborhood!
Chevy Chase Main Street not only organizes fun events and supports small business owners, however. We also strive to integrate our community work with projects that improve the design and beautification on the corridor. Have you driven down Connecticut Avenue and noticed the new Light Pole Banners welcoming you to the Chevy Chase DC Main Street corridor? Have you seen our Shop Small Guide in a local store? Or perhaps noticed the newly restored Historic Call Boxes restored in partnership with Historic Chevy Chase DC, Chevy Chase Citizens Association and Ch/Art? These are just a few of the design projects Chevy Chase Main Street has taken on to improve the corridor.
District Bridges provides Chevy Chase Main Street with a holistic approach to community-based economic development, utilizing strategic partnerships, small business technical assistance, volunteer opportunities, place management, events, resident outreach and connective services. Our approach is different in that we start from a place of collaboration and capacity-building, looking to strengthen the whole ecosystem in which we work. The community in Chevy Chase, MD, is a vital part of that ecosystem; therefore, I’m so excited to connect with more organizations and individuals that utilize the commercial corridor and bring people together to support the unique independent businesses that call Chevy Chase, D.C. home!