Honoring downtown’s visionary leaders: Chamber recognizes New Tacoma Award winners

Marty Campbell vividly remembers the first time he met long-time News Tribune columnist Art Popham. It was the summer of 1994 and Campbell had just opened Stadium Video. Popham visited Campbell to learn more about the new business, located near Stadium High School. It was one of the first — if not only — independent video stores near the city center.

Fast-forward more than a decade, and Campbell and Popham would cross paths again. This time, however, the circumstances differed. Campbell was accepting the 2005 Popham Award, which recognizes the individual that has done the most to build community spirit, and is named after the columnist.

“”Independent stores give heart and soul to the city,“”” said Campbell, who accepted the honor at the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce’s annual New Tacoma Awards luncheon Friday. The awards recognized individuals and institutions working to improve downtown. ““”Downtown is the center of activity for cities,“”” added Campbell, who also owns Buzzards CD and is president of the Downtown Merchants Group. “”“It’’s time for that activity to happen in Tacoma.”“”

The awards ceremony was as much about recognizing community leaders as it was about tipping a hat to the city’s past.

The Ghilarducci Award, which has annually recognized successful new development for the past two decades, was presented to the Tacoma Art Museum by Larry Ghilarducci, whose grandparents had a home and flower stand on A Street at the turn of the twentieth century. The museum’s executive director, Stephanie Stebich, accepted the award. The Tacoma Art Museum marked its first full year at its new Pacific Avenue site last year.

Nightclub owner Jon Tartaglia received the Union Station Award, which recognizes leading organizations, companies or individuals that have built or sustained momentum for revitalization. Tartaglia owns the dance club The Loft; the martini bar 21 Commerce; and the comedy club Taboo.

Bernardo Tuma won the Schoenfeld Award, which recognizes exemplary performance as a retailer. Tuma owns Aroma Coffee on Pacific Avenue. He is also a commissioner on the Metropolitan Park Board.

Awards of merit were also presented to Rainier Pacific Bank (which recently relocated its corporate office downtown), Tacoma Power Superintendent Steve Klein and News Tribune business columnist Dan Voelpel.

Mayor Bill Baarsma told the award winners, “”Thank you for making Tacoma one of the nation’s most livable cities.””

Tacoma small-business owner Marty Campbell receives honors during the New Tacoma Awards 2005 luncheon Friday. The event, which recognized four achievers for their ongoing roles in improving downtown, was sponsored by the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber of Commerce and Venture Bank. (PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)