Rebuilding Main Street

At the meeting this morning approximately forty members of the Richmond community came together to discuss a possible future for the Main Street/Center City Organization. The meeting was called by Mayor Hutton and moderated by Mary Jo Clark and Pat Heiny.

The first question asked as people introduced themselves, was what qualities they would like to see in a Main Street Organization?
The comments were:
well coordinated
active organization
organized
logical
open collaboration
distinct goals
downtown neighborhoods
sustainability
rational strategic vision
revolving loan program
equal participation
responsible leaders
optimistic
creative
positive
tolerant of opposing views

Cards were distributed to tables listing the

National Main Street Four-point Approach:
Organization – getting everyone working toward the same goal.
Promotion – selling a positive image of the commercial district.
Design – getting the area into top physical shape to create a positive visual image.
Economic Restructuring – sharpening the competitiveness of existing business owners and recruiting new businesses.

Everyone was asked to work with the people at their table to come up with ideas that related these four points to our experience in Richmond.

Our table came up with these:

Organization
Strong positive leadership
Inclusive – everyone’s invited
Open and frequent communication with transparency

Promotion
Cleaning up the weeds, graffiti and trash
Develop attractions
Murals
Festivals
Parades
Give the community a reason to become our partner
Train next generation of leaders
Outreach to other states, create a national campaign
Build on the success we had with the Model T Centennial

Design
Façade grants
Renovation of buildings
Revolving loan fund
Develop public private partnerships
Work to get the buy in of everyone to participate
Address issues of absentee owners, empty buildings
Snow removal
Plant watering and maintenance

Economic Restructuring
Make the parking garage safe, secure and clean
Create a city attraction map
Support the billboards on I-70
Utilize Facebook, Flickr, YouTube
Create a welcome wagon for new businesses beyond what realtors already do
Clarify with the City Administration the process of obtaining building permits
Create an atmosphere that will make bringing a new business to Rich,mond a positive experience
Remove obstructions to development
Sponsor local projects
Initiate mutually beneficial city-wide advertising
Share a grant writer for various organizations

The discussion was opened to the group for top two suggestions from lists:

Create a “First Fridays” or “First Tuesdays” when all businesses would participate
Make available business loans
Internet marketing
Schedule regular business seminars
Encourage new business
Make Richmond a destination for visitors
Re-educate community to be positive and project a positive outlook
Pick up trash
Put an informational center/resource center in one location
Encourage a “Buy Local” program
Create a business cross promotion template
Fix parking
Mentor youth
Highlight specialized businesses on billboards and ads
Make downtown living possible

What did we miss?

What was left out?

How do we ensure action?

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8 Responses to “Rebuilding Main Street”

  1. Wow – great write up – sorry I missed it. Abby’s school starts at 8:30am and 7am babysitters are hard to come by 🙂 You have the community’s attention – I hear so many talking about this topic. How can we help?

  2. Dear Bobbie, There were a lot of people who couldn’t attend for similar reasons. That is why I posted my notes. Pat and Mary Jo are running the show, so stay tuned, they are supposed to come up with a plan and I’ll let everyone know.

  3. Julia Says:

    Sorry I couldn’t be there either.

    Looks like a lot of people took their frustration a positive step further and crystallized some very concrete goals. Rising from the ashes!!

    Keep us posted – I’d like to help out when things get moving.

  4. Stephanie Says:

    HI Everyone,
    A great idea was suggested by Shari Veach later that day in regards to the parking garage.
    The desire for green space down town and the desire to make the parking garage more attractive spurred her idea. What if we made green space on top of the garage? We could start with one corner and start with small container gardens. The addition of picnic tables and maybe having the coop or other restaurants take turns selling wraps or pre-made food items up there a couple times a week would create an attractive spot for lunch and for coffee breaks etc. as we have seen with past jazz fests – the roof top can be made to be really inviting. Again, this is one idea where starting small and striving for some low-hanging fruit could then blossom into a much larger green space and fun lunch hub. Maybe not with lunch carts at first, but we could work toward that. I thought this was a great idea worth sharing! Thanks Shari!!!

  5. Thanks! This is a great idea, and would be easy to start, maintain and market: “Come to Richmond and park in the green garage”. I have spoken to the Mayor about having an attendant returned to the garage for safety as well as managing a vegetable oil filtration system to replace diesel in City vehicles. We could save money as well as provide a local site for alternative fuel distribution. A green roof would be the icing on the cake.

    • Becky Says:

      creating a series of container gardens on the parking garage rooftop would be a wonderful Eagle Scout Project. Then, through a lottery ask local schools, orgainzations and civic clubs to be responsible for one of the container gardens…it is a great use of volunteer energy, creation of green space through natural energy use…and adds to the over builiding of communities within communities. The funds to make this happen could all be donated or at cost and the labor done as an Eagle project and the many hands that would serve under the scout to accomplish this project would create a bridge between the present and the future
      great idea for green space

  6. Michele Walker Says:

    I have a suggestion- give all downtown employees/business owners a free pass to park in the parking garage all day. That would free up a lot of parking spaces for customers. Parking and short business hours are the biggest reasons people find downtown shopping inconvenient.

  7. Oh wow, I am so excited about these amazing ideas!
    I absolutely think that turning the top of the garage into a green space would totally draw people downtown and give us something to be excited about.
    Also, Michele’s idea is simple and easy – most of the garage is empty all day anyway, so it won’t be a financial loss to anyone.

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