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Alliance News

Construction begins on Walla Walla Valley regional wayfinding signage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 19, 2016

Walla Walla, WA – Members of the Walla Walla Valley wayfinding signage steering committee, consisting of the managers and executive directors of the Port of Columbia (Jennie Dickinson), Downtown Walla Walla Foundation (Elio Agostini), Visit Walla Walla (Ron Peck), and Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance (Duane Wollmuth), today announced plans for the construction of a number of wayfinding signs throughout the region.  These signs represent the start of Phase III of the three-phased project which was initiated in 2008.  

Among the first signs constructed will be a valley gateway, pedestrian informational kiosks, wine district entrances, and other directional signs.  The Walla Walla Valley gateway sign will be located at Nine-Mile Hill along Hwy. 12; informational kiosks will be located in Dayton and downtown Walla Walla; wine district entrance signs will be located in the west, east, south and Oregon districts; and, parking signs will be located throughout the City of Walla Walla.

“We know we must put a stake in the ground to show that this project continues to move forward,” said Jennie Dickinson, executive director, Port of Columbia.  Dickinson goes on to say “we understand the Dayton community is closely tied to Walla Walla’s thriving tourism industry and that we are the entrance point for the northeast corner of the valley.  These signs will be an important tool in moving visitors throughout our region.”

The mission of the signage project is to provide physical signs throughout the Walla Walla Valley from Dayton to Milton-Freewater to help facilitate the movement of tourists so they can more easily discover the amenities and attractions the region has to offer and, in turn, lengthen their stay and increase their expenditures while visiting the Valley.  Phases I and II of the project, which involved a feasibility study and the design of the signs, were completed in early 2014.

“The wayfinding signage project has been a very complex and time consuming effort,” said Duane Wollmuth, executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.  “There have been many constituents involved, not only in the feasibility and planning phases of the system, but in the design and now the construction of the signs.  The economic downturn slowed the project significantly.  We at the Wine Alliance strongly believe that a consistent and well thought out signage system will be heavily used by not only visitors to our valley, but by our valley residents as well.  We also know that it is critical that these physical signs are integrated with all of today’s technologies, including the internet, printed guides, and mobile tours on tablets and smart phones.”

The signage project is funded by numerous private and public sources.  “The first two phases of the project were funded by $130,000 donated by twenty-seven different non-profits, private businesses, and public entities,” said Elio Agostini of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation.  “To date, $166,000 has been committed to the construction phase, with proposed contributions totaling another $515,000.  In total, the signage budget is estimated to reach up to $1.5 million.”

The construction of the signage system is expected to take several years to complete, as committee members continue to work to secure funding for construction, develop a long-term maintenance plan and finalize an inter-local agreement.  “These agreements and the collaboration they represent are vital to the completion of this project,” said Ron Peck, executive director, Visit Walla Walla.  “In addition, the signage costs and maintenance efforts will need to be integrated in to many organization’s annual budgets.”

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About the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance
The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is a non-profit wine industry membership organization whose mission is the marketing of the Walla Walla Valley’s American Viticulture Area (AVA). The Wine Alliance functions as the leading informational resource for consumers, media and trade interested in learning more about the Valley’s wine industry.

About the Port of Columbia
The Port of Columbia is the lead economic development organization for Columbia County whose mission is to maximize public  resources  and private investment to create jobs, provide infrastructure, and maintain and improve the economic vitality of Columbia County and its communities.   

About the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation
The Downtown Walla Walla Foundation is a non profit 501 (c)3 economic development agency. The Foundation’s mission is to strengthen the economic and cultural vitality of  downtown Walla Walla in particular, while enhancing the historic character and beauty of the downtown.

About Visit Walla Walla
Visit Walla Walla is a non-profit destination marketing organizations that is the official visitor marketing arm of the city of Walla Walla.  Visit Walla Walla’s develops and executes leisure and business travel sales and marketing strategies that promote growth of travel to the Walla Walla Valley 

Media Contacts:
Duane Wollmuth 
Executive Director, Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance 
duane@wallawallawine.com | (509) 526-3117 

Jennie Dickinson
Manager, Port of Columbia
jennie@portofcolumbia.org  | (509) 382-2577

Elio Agostini
Executive Director, Downtown Walla Walla Foundation
elio@downtownwallawalla.com | (509) 529-8755

Ron Peck
Executive Director, Visit Walla Walla
rpeck@wallawalla.org | 509-525-8727