Front row: Downtown Spokane Partnership President and CEO Emilie Cameron finds a calling in urban economic development
Emilie Cameron says she has always had a calling for downtown development and the creation of urban spaces.
Cameron, a Sacramento native, joined the Downtown Spokane Partnership last month as its new chairman and chief executive, succeeding Mark Richard, who left the organization for a senior role with the United Soccer League.
Cameron said she was thrilled to be part of the Spokane community.
“I’m so excited to be here. I’m a lifelong fan of Spokane…Meeting everyone, working with the staff and keeping up to date with all the great work that’s already going on,” said she said, “So at this point, I’ll say I’m still just taking it all in, listening, learning, but really excited to be a part of this community.”
Cameron has over 15 years of experience in public policy, fundraising and communications as well as leading strategic urban, business and economic development initiatives.
Prior to joining the Downtown Spokane Partnership, Cameron was vice president of the Sacramento-based public relations firm Randle Communications.
She has also held various positions with the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, including Director of District Business and Development, Director of Public Affairs and Communications, and Director of Policy and Advocacy.
During his six-year tenure with the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, Cameron championed the revitalization of the city’s urban core, renamed the Old Sacramento Waterfront, supported policies to grow the regional economy, and led recovery campaigns in pandemic, among others.
She has also served on several executive and industry association boards.
“A citizen person”
Cameron’s interest in civics was sparked in high school when she served as the publicity commissioner.
“I’ve always had an inherent interest in civic politics, public affairs, external affairs and communications,” she said. “But I’ve also always been a very civic-minded person.”
While in high school, Cameron worked for Safeway as a courtesy attendant. She was promoted to food clerk and then took on a job as an accountant.
Cameron graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in communications.
She continued to work for Safeway and joined its retail leadership program. After the program, Cameron rose through the ranks to become a store manager and district representative, she said.
“But at the end of 2008, beginning of 2009, I decided that I wanted to try this professional career, which I spent so much money on to go to university,” she said. “I shifted gears a bit and went to work for Lucas Public Affairs, which was a statewide public affairs firm started by Donna Lucas, who is considered one of the top strategists California politics.
Cameron was hired as an executive assistant to the firm where she learned more about the role of public policy, communications and politics in the development of the city.
She became involved with Metro EDGE, the young professionals program of the Sacramento Metro Chamber Foundation.
“At that time, there was a lot of advocacy around developing places and opportunities for young professionals to stay in Sacramento,” she said.
When the Sacramento Kings owning group was considering relocating the basketball franchise, Cameron became involved in advocacy efforts for a new arena to keep the team in the city.
“We were trying to explain the economic benefits and we were doing a lot of advocacy as a young, professional voice at the time,” she said. “I was the president of our program in Sacramento, and that’s where I met and started working with the Downtown Sacramento Partnership.”
Cameron began his career with this agency as a policy and advocacy officer in 2015.
She was named director of public affairs and communications in 2016, a position she held for more than four years, managing campaigns focusing on economic development, business support, investor recruitment and relations, among others. governmental.
In 2020, she became District Business and Development Director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership.
“I really fell in love with the work we do,” she said. “You define a place. You build their identity.
“You help make it a safe, clean, welcoming place, and everything in between, often.”
From Sacramento to Spokane
Cameron’s admiration for Spokane was sparked while she served on the board of the Urban Land Institute Sacramento Women in Leadership Committee.
“We were trying to figure out our own riparian situation and how we could embrace it and activate it,” she said. “Spokane was one of the cities that we looked at and we actually had people come in who did a technical support panel and talked to us about what they had planned for the revitalization of Riverfront Park.
“So to see it come to life many years later is so exciting.”
Cameron’s extensive experience in downtown management was a key factor in her hiring as President and CEO of the Downtown Spokane Partnership.
“Emilie brings a new perspective and a new sense of excitement to Spokane that moves us forward into the next chapter of our downtown,” said Chris Batten, Chairman of the Board of the Downtown Spokane Partnership in a press release. last month.
“His background and experience working with the Downtown Sacramento Partnership will be invaluable to the organization and give us insight and direction as we find our way through the challenges of the past few years.”
Cameron said his priorities for downtown Spokane are to make sure it’s a clean, safe and welcoming place. It also wants to continue to focus on residential development and adaptive reuse projects in the city centre; and fostering a sense of vibrancy through arts and cultural events.
The Downtown Spokane Partnership recently launched a grant program for the second consecutive year to encourage new cultural events in the heart of the city.
“I think it’s really exciting, just to see how we thrive and come out of the pandemic,” she said. “I was walking around last weekend and people were enjoying First Friday, Food Truck Friday…you can feel in the air that people are excited to get together again.”
Cameron would also like to showcase new and existing businesses in downtown Spokane.
“I live downtown right now. So I spend every night at a different restaurant or walk around and visit different stores,” she said. “And I always love to ask about Spokane. Every place I’ve been – whether it’s the bartender, the waiter or the waitress, the shopkeeper – everyone has a little twinkle in their eye. They’re thrilled to have me say “You gotta go see this place. You’ll love it here.”
“To see how proud people are of downtown Spokane is really exciting,” she continued. “It’s almost contagious.”
heart of a city
When she’s not advocating for the downtown Spokane business community, Cameron plans to take advantage of Lilac City’s many outdoor recreational activities.
“I’m excited to get out and explore and see all of these great hikes that everyone’s been telling me about,” she said. “I’m making my list now.”
Lately, she has been exploring the city with her miniature schnauzer, Wilson, in addition to discovering new restaurants.
“I’m a little greedy. I feel like I’m eating and drinking in downtown Spokane right now and I can’t wait to keep going deeper into the neighborhoods,” she said. “But really, I’m excited to be a neighbor, to be part of this community, to give back and to contribute in a meaningful way.”
Cameron said a downtown’s impact is far greater than its physical footprint. It is the heart of a city, a crossroads of trade, investment, art and culture.
“A lot of people in this industry of downtown development, creating urban spaces – we’re very passionate about it. It’s more than just a job,” she said. “I would say that it embodies me.
“I’m really happy to have had this opportunity and I want to be part of Spokane for a long time.”