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Downtown Promotion Reporter
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Each month, Downtown Promotion Reporter provides the tools you need to bring more people downtown to live, work, shop, and play.

We often have valuable background material, additional information, or related resources that we just can’t fit in the newsletter. These are presented below.

September 2017

Welcome festival for college students proves beneficial for everyone — The annual Get Downtown festival began as a way to orient new college students to what the city center has to offer and has grown into the largest and most beloved street festival in Lynchburg, VA. View the Get Downtown vendor application and sponsorship packages.

Stitching together a great downtown event — March is National Quilting Month. To mark the occasion, many downtowns promote merchants who cater to quilters, or host quilt shows and classes. Read an archive article on producing a successful quilt event.

Year-long initiative expands and promotes public art — In Chicago, IL, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events have declared 2017 the Year of Public Art with a new 50X50 Neighborhood Arts Project, creation of a Public Art Youth Corps, a new Public Art Festival, and more. Watch two videos about Chicago’s Year of Public Art.

Temporary art installation highlights best of downtown — Each year the Detroit (MI) Auto Show draws upwards of 800,000 people to the city center. Hoping to keep those people downtown longer, the Downtown Detroit Partnership, Detroit Economic Growth Corp., and others brought LuminoCITY downtown. The art installation includes 16 illuminated pieces. See a video of the installation coming to life.

August 2017

Extending Halloween’s drawing power — The Emma Crawford Coffin Race & Parade in Manitou Springs, CO fills downtown streets on a weekend leading up to Halloween. View the Official Rules, Coffin Specifications, and Entry Form.

New festival and marketing effort mark Earth Day — In Lowell, MA, the Annual Points of Light Floating Lantern Celebration is, “a spring celebration of unity and renewal that brings together the food, music, and traditions of Lowell’s diverse cultures.” See the Community Involvement Form.

Build events around the bling — February is National Wedding Month and the Downtown Statesboro (GA) Development Authority presents an annual Wedding Walk, the region’s largest wedding vendor expo and fashion show. Watch a promotional video.

Integrated marketing campaign aims to attract new residents from neighboring city — Going strong for more than a decade, the city of Berwyn, Illinois’s integrated marketing campaign was recently selected as a best practice case study by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and is featured in the Homes for a Changing Region Toolkit. Below are links to the 5 sections of the Toolkit.

Environmental art with a message — The environmental art installation, Particle Falls, in Raleigh, NC, is a colorful digital light display that makes invisible particulate in the air visible in a cascade on the side of a city building. See a local news story about it.

July 2017

March Madness inspires downtown dining campaign — Downtown Madness in Pueblo, CO, is highlighting the city center dining scene and helping restaurants attract new customers. See one of the Downtown Madness television spots.

Giving young families a new read on the city center — The Great Big Read event in Stockton, CA, brings a variety of partners together to host an event which draws hundreds of families downtown. Watch the Great Big Read promotional video.

Keeping an iconic event fresh — The annual arts festival in Lewisburg, PA, offers up visual and performing arts, food, and drink, as well as a series of well-attended art workshops. See the brochure here.

June 2017

Summer kickoff campaign includes video, photo contest, and daily themes — The week-long #LoveYourDowntown campaign in Fredericton, NB, aimed to draw locals and visitors downtown after the long Canadian winter. Watch the promotional video.

Delivering educational, entertaining, sharable reports — The Downtown Fresno Partnership worked with a local production company to create a one-minute fly-over investment video to replace its traditional printed report.

Tours link local sites with public transit — The Ten Toe walking program in St. Louis, MO, connects the MetroLink and MetroBus systems with, "your own ten toes" as participants ride public transit to designated tour locations. See the step by step guide to setting up a Ten Toe Express program and view a brief video presentation.

May 2017

Effective communication turns construction gridlock into downtown happening — With the closure of a main thoroughfare looming in traffic-clogged downtown Seattle, WA, the Downtown Seattle Association launched its #WhyRushHour campaign aimed at turning traffic jams into an opportunity to miss the rush and enjoy the evening in the city center instead. Watch the campaign videos.

April 2017

Dedicated group brings new visitors, unique experiences bring them back — Having successful neighbors can be a mixed blessing. That was the case in Panama City, FL, when businesses began relocating to Panama City Beach. To combat the outmigration, the city established a new revenue stream, formed a dedicated marketing organization, and began a strategic outreach effort. For more information, see the links below:

Cross-promotion and collaboration lead to more downtown events — In Bangor, ME, merchants organized a new marketing group last year. As a result of the improved networking and collaboration, downtown will see a much fuller calendar of events this year. Visit the group’s website here.

A rainy day enticement for city centers — The availability of paint that shows up only when it’s wet has inspired whimsical, low-cost “invisible art” projects on sidewalks nationwide. View invisible art videos from Rainworks and Arts Huntsville.

Guided walk attracts locals and guests from around the globe — Each Sunday morning at 11 a.m., professional tour guides greet guests at the foot of the William Seward statue in New York City’s Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership BID for a free walking tour of the area. See the brochure and a promotional video.

March 2017

Community branding aims to attract young workers, new businesses, and visitors — York, PA, has proclaimed itself to be America’s Industrial Art & Design Capital, and is using its creative assets to attract young professionals. Part of the re-branding effort is the Creativity Unleashed marketing campaign which includes recruitment materials, a website, and guided tours.

February 2017

Building successful Shop Local campaigns — When executed properly, campaigns to inform the public about the benefits of doing business locally can build a lasting culture of support for small businesses.

Light hearted promotion spreads word, generates buzz — To promote the upcoming 375th birthday of Montreal, QC, Canada, Tourism Montreal is apologizing to their Toronto and New York neighbors for all the racket, and inviting them to take part in the festivities. Watch a video showing Montrealers knocking on doors in Toronto.

January 2017

Drones are new stars of light shows — Click here to see a video of Intel drones setting a Guinness World Record and the Starbright Holidays Drone Show at Disney Springs.

December 2016

Holiday light displays attract crowds — An attractive holiday light display can be activated in mid-November and add to the festive atmosphere and drawing power of downtown every evening through January. Watch Baltimore, MD’s Power Plant Holiday Light Spectacular video.

November 2016

Marketing plan calls for rebranding shopping district and aggressive promotion — The Sunrise MarketPlace BID in Citrus Heights, CA, is somewhat unique, in that its membership is primarily retail. Because of this, the BID dedicates a substantial percentage of its budget to marketing. Listen to their seasonal, holiday, and year-round radio promotions below.

October 2016

Downtown lip-dub is DIY success — When a Dunedin, FL, restaurateur saw a lib-dub made in Grand Rapids, MI, she wanted to do one too. Before long, most of the downtown wanted to star in the video. Watch it here.

Downtown Block Party is a signature summer event — Goals of the the annual Downtown Block Party in Terre Haute, IN, include attracting people to the downtown and welcoming incoming university students. See a promotional video of the event and read the rules of Chalk the Block, a sidewalk art activity.

One-time push nets annual title sponsors — In 2013, the Iowa City Downtown District in Iowa City, IA, launched an ambitious sponsorship campaign that allowed BID staff to talk to stakeholders about the new organization while also learning about city center needs, forming partnerships, and securing funding for projects and events. To start those conversations, all of the essential information was presented in a single document.

Working with volunteers, a guide to successThe Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement provides a useful framework for organizations of all types and sizes to ensure effective volunteer engagement.

September 2016

Crowdfunding helps keep music festival free — The Lowell Folk Festival is one of the largest free folk festivals in the nation. The event draws about 150,000 attendees annually, yet, in recent years, raising the $1 million festival budget (about $500,000 in-kind and the rest in cash) has become more challenging. Read the Lowell Folk Festival crowdfunding pitch and watch a fundraising video here.

Light festivals drawing crowds — Baltimore, MD’s, inaugural Light City Baltimore, a festival of “light, music, and innovation,” took place around the city’s Inner Harbor this spring. The free, week-long event featured the BGE Light Art Walk, with more than 50 attractions. Watch a time lapse video of Light City Baltimore.

August 2016

Want more overnight visitors? Try a grant program — Since 2013, Tourism Nanaimo has offered grants to encourage community groups and businesses to attract overnight visitors to Nanaimo, BC, Canada, and the region. Read a report on the Nanaimo Tourism Development Fund here.

Build experiences into events to draw larger crowds — The weeklong Tulip Time Festival in Holland, MI, has been going strong for 87 years. Attendees are drawn to the city to see the 4.5 million tulips in bloom, as well as 55 Dutch dance performances, cute Kinder Dutch Dancers, and the Dutch Marktplaats. Click here to view the Tulip Time Festival Guide.

July 2016

New logo boosts city identity and locally made products — A new branding campaign is underway in New Haven, CT. The goal is to brand locally produced products with a distinctive logo and to promote them together under the Made in New Haven banner. Read the Made in New Haven Branding Guide here.

June 2016

Multi-faceted campaign boosts mid-construction business — Looming downtown streetscape construction in Redwing, MN (est. pop. 16,459), spurred the formation of a Main Event group focused on helping small business owners survive the inevitable disruptions. View a promotional video and the construction brochure here.

Family friendly program encourages more local shopping — A new Play Unplugged program is being used in several Utah communities to inspire kids to unplug from their electronics while also drawing more families into downtown businesses. See the promotional materials below:

Unique town-wide event boosts mid-winter occupancy — One goal of the Flavors of Freeport festival was to increase hotel occupancy during the relatively quiet month of February in the coastal town of Freeport, ME. Now in its ninth year, the festival has achieved that goal and more. Click here to watch a Flavors of Freeport video.

Promoting what’s special downtown — Each week, Downtown Pittsfield (MA) Inc. scours local shops for the unique and unusual and shares its finds via the Five Fun Finds in Downtown Pittsfield email campaign.

May 2016

Take a long view to maximize anniversary celebrations — The nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine, FL, marked its 450th anniversary with a five-day, multifaceted event last September that celebrated the city’s history and religious roots, ethnic diversity, and thriving arts and culture scene. Click here to read an archive article on St. Augustine’s historic paving and traffic calming 450th Legacy project.

Giant postcards encourage social media sharing — A new mural trail being created in Stockton, CA, is strategically designed to encourage people to take selfies and share them on social media. Postcards from Stockton will eventually feature 15 giant “postcards” at sites intended to draw pedestrians through the city center while also providing education about local history and culture. See the artist RFP issued by the Downtown Stockton Alliance here.

Bridges can be an attraction asset — Communities nationwide are hosting bridge-centered festivals and tours, or creating scenic urban walking trails and pocket parks on or adjacent to these connective structures. Below are videos promoting covered bridges and a bridge/bike trail.

Helping businesses cash in on downtown events — Street closures and crowded sidewalks can seem like deterrents to sales, but a little education can help small business owners see the upside of city center festivals and events. See informative brochures from two downtowns below.

April 2016

Creating strong Shop Local campaigns — Many independent businesses experienced healthy sales growth last year, due in part to a growing public awareness that supporting local merchants has broad community benefits. According to a recent survey conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in partnership with the Advocates for Independent Business, a strong Shop Local campaign plays into that success. See more information below:

Changing perceptions: Creative materials and events encourage development — The city of Hamilton, OH, has launched several innovative promotional efforts in recent years to attract developers downtown. The city has won multiple awards from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for its print and digital marketing efforts, special events, and more. Click here to read the 2016 Initiative Update.

March 2016

Short video packs a big punch — How do you promote everything that downtown has to offer in just two minutes and thirty-five seconds? The Capitol Riverfront BID in Washington, D.C., managed to do it with the Capitol Riverfront marketing video. Watch it here.

Coping with construction, creative solutions — The Inkwell boutique in downtown Halifax, NS, Canada, had a difficult time attracting Christmas shoppers as a major construction project disrupted parking and rerouted drivers and pedestrians. To help cope, the store created the HFX Pylon Club. See an online video promoting the Club.

February 2016

"Postcard" video promotes the positive for downtown — To highlight positive changes and to offset negative press coverage, the Downtown Stockton Alliance in Stockton, CA, sent out a short "postcard" on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, as well as sharing it via e-newsletters, and encouraging its board of directors to distribute it within their own networks. Watch the postcard video here.

Downtownie program offers perks, creates advocates — Die-hard downtown fans are called "Downtownies" in Mooresville, NC. And being a Downtownie has its privileges. The process to become a Downtownie is straightforward. The benefits include not only savings, but an opportunity to spread the word about supporting Mooresville. View a brief video about the Downtownie program here.

January 2016

Business competition puts start-ups in the heart of downtown — Launching a new business is costly and risky. To alleviate some of that for entrepreneurs in Wytheville, VA, Downtown Wytheville and the Joint Industrial Development Authority of Wythe County recently hosted a business idea competition, offering financial incentives to the winners. See more information below:

Embrace your inner geek — July 13 is Embrace your Geekness Day. In Tempe, AZ, the city’s vibrant tech community led to creation of an annual Geek’s Night Out event that attracts about 3,000 people downtown. Read an archive article here.

Better-trained producers create quality events — In Mississippi, the state’s Main Street program hosts an annual conference called Back Stage Pass. According to Stacy Pair, state coordinator for Mississippi Main Street, the conference covers many nitty-gritty topics for newer event producers, as well as themed topics aimed at keeping the event fresh for more seasoned attendees. Read more here.

December 2015

Stroll downtown, get a cookie — In Oak Park, IL, a cookie walk began as part of the annual Winterfest nearly a decade ago, but quickly became the signature event. Watch a video of the Winterfest/Cookie Walk here.

Subscription boxes, school catalogs boost sales, highlight downtown offerings — Subscription boxes are a trendy new way for merchants to introduce themselves to consumers, and for downtowns to showcase what local retailers have to offer. To learn more, click the links below:

Downtown, where everybody knows your name — The first Saturday in June is Nametag Day, a day to hand out name tags, wear name tags, and provide friendly greetings to “the strangers we see everyday” by name. View a video of Nametag Day in New York City here.

Leveraging the holidays for higher visitor rates — To position Denver, CO, as a holiday destination and attract more overnight visitors, the Visit Denver Convention and Visitors Bureau created its Mile High Holidays campaign in 2004. Now in its 12th year, the campaign is still going strong. See a Visit Denver Mile High Holidays newspaper insert here.

November 2015

Personalized ads can attract new businesses — When the Downtown Sacramento Partnership in Sacramento, CA, wanted to highlight the city center as a great place for small business owners, it launched a number of initiatives around the theme of “Downtown Dreamers.” View an archive article about Downtown Dreamers here.

Innovative ways to build on Small Business Saturday — Since American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010, the campaign has grown to have a multi-billion-dollar annual impact on independent retailers nationwide. Some communities are coming up with innovative ways to take the best advantage of this promotional push each November. Click the link to see all of the Small Business Saturday tips provided by Downtown Colorado, Inc.

Tiny, white lights can have a huge impact — Communities debating the return on investment for holiday lighting programs may want to look to St. Augustine, FL. The Nights of Lights campaign, now entering its 22nd year, has grown annually, and has generated tremendous positive economic impact. Click the links below for more information.

Low cost advertising for festivals and events — The American Bus Association has released its annual list of the Top 100 Events in North America. See the report here.

October 2015

Annual Home Tour attracts buyers, but also the simply curious — The Nashville Home Tour started as a way to promote downtown’s residential vacancies in Nashville, TN, and has evolved into a marketing event for downtown businesses, and an event for those who simply enjoy home tours. See the downloadable brochure that not only guides tour attendees to downtown residential units, but promotes nearby restaurants, shops, and galleries.

Mural event transforms downtown — This spring, Delavan, WI, added 18 murals in the city center in just five days. This feat was accomplished with a Walldog event. The Walldogs are an international group of mural painters who visit one city each summer to paint and promote tourism. See a video describing the event.

September 2015

Bringing what’s inside out downtown — The INSIDE OUT project was launched in 2011 by Parisian artist JR. The idea was to take residents’ personal identities and turn them into public art in the form of large black and white portraits pasted on the outside of downtown buildings. Installations have taken place in more than 100 countries in recent years. Watch a video about Redding, California’s Inside Out project.

A series of timely campaigns promote entertainment district — To reach a wide variety of downtown patrons, the Toronto Entertainment District BIA in Toronto, ON, Canada, is using a mix of online and face-to-face campaigns this year. As part of the promotion, people were awarded gold medals for simply enjoying what the Entertainment District has to offer. See videos of the impromptu Toronto Gold award ceremonies.

Downtown-wide theme makes city center a destination — Choosing a theme and weaving it throughout the fabric of the community can create an attractive destination for visitors. That’s been the case in Dublin, OH, where branding is, naturally, based on the city’s name and Irish roots. Read the Irish is an Attitude brand launch document.

August 2015

Cities up the ante to attract millennials — Cities across the nation are vying to attract and retain professionals aged 25-34. See an archive article, Attracting young professionals to urban centers.

July 2015

Simplified program makes video production more accessible — Online videos continue to grow in popularity, but not every downtown organization has the skills to produce in-house or the budget to hire a production company. However, new programs for novice video producers are aiming to solve that dilemma. View the Healthy Futures Greater Milford walking tour video made with GoAnimate.

Cash incentives fill downtown event calendar — To entice more festival and event producers to its city center, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ in Winnipeg, MB, Canada, launched the Host It Downtown campaign this spring. Click here to see the Host It Downtown details and application.

Using contests to raise your downtown profile — Getting named one of Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Towns of 2015 has Delhi, NY, basking in media attention and hoping for a spike in visits and downtown spending. Watch the winning video.

June 2015

Public art that strikes a chord with pedestrians — Work to bring playable public art downtown in Denison, TX, has been ongoing since 2013 when Downtown Denison, Inc. presented its Musical Public Art for Downtown? proposal to the city council.

May 2015

Marketing grants promote what is unique about downtown — For the past six years, Downtown Appleton Inc., in Appleton, WI, has offered a Matching Marketing Grant program to its members. The funds have inspired additional support from local media outlets, allowed merchants to advertise more lavishly, and promoted Downtown Appleton and the city center. View the Appleton Downtown Inc. Matching Marketing Grant application and the organization’s media partner outreach letter.

April 2015

Increase participation at downtown arts events — New data from the National Endowment for the Arts will help arts and cultural event providers develop strategies to better engage the public, and to quantify the financial and social value of doing so. Full information is available in the three reports below.

Tourism growth has positive effect on overall economic development
A recently released study, Destination Promotion: An Engine of Economic Development, demonstrates that community or state investment in tourism promotion and growth boosts broader economic development efforts targeting other industries. Click here to read the report.

March 2015

People flock to see flamingoes — In Richmond Heights, MO, after one couple with lawn flamingoes moved into the Yale Avenue neighborhood, the ornaments began mysteriously cropping up outside other residences, which generated a lot of media attention and visits from curious passersby. To view some of the media coverage generated by the Richmond Heights flamingo bombing, click here.

Encouraging residents to take advantage of all that downtown has to offer — To improve residential attraction and retention, the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore commissioned research to better understand who is moving downtown and how to make downtown living the best possible experience. Read the report, Demographic Profile of New Downtown Baltimore Residents.

Encouraging minority entrepreneurs — The annual Made in Lowell (MA) event highlights immigrant entrepreneurs, “for their contributions to a positive, vibrant, and diverse Lowell community.” Read the archive article, Business showcases highlight the city’s character, keep spending local.

Turning a negative into a positive — Non-locals are often challenged with the pronunciation of Bangor, ME. It’s Ban-GOR. Not Bang-ER. A local marketing firm created the video We are Bangor, which features well-known personalities from the symphony orchestra, a former state senator, radio and newspaper personalities, and of course, two economic development professionals.

February 2015

Multi-faceted campaign aims to bring residents downtown — To overcome negative perceptions and geographical challenges that might discourage new residents, the city of Dundalk, MD, launched a branding campaign backed by an ambitious public engagement process, and featuring a new website, media partnerships, public events, incentives for home purchases, and more. View the My Town promotional video produced as part of the Dundalk: Live the Unexpected branding effort here.

Turnkey gift card program can be customized for each downtown — A new gift card program in Fredericksburg, VA, drew $50,000 in sales this past holiday season. Finding the right card, customizing it to the downtown, and launching it with a community-wide art contest all contributed to the program’s success. See the Request for Art and details about the Experience Fredericksburg gift card campaign.

Restaurants keep pace with consumer preferences — Local sourcing, environmental sustainability, and healthful kids’ meals keep gaining steam as the top trends on restaurant menus in 2015 according to the National Restaurant Association’s annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast. See the report here.

Giant shredder helps ring in New Year — December 28th is Good Riddance Day. A few days before New Year’s Eve the Times Square Alliance invites New Yorkers to bring mementos of bad memories, or to write their memories on the paper provided and then “shred it and forget it.” Watch a brief video here.

January 2015

Attractive window displays encourage shoppers to stroll, contests make it happen — A critical mass of attractive and interesting window displays can draw people downtown to stroll and enjoy the shopping scene any time of year. A window decorating contest may be just what’s needed to move window design to the next level and engage visitors. Click here to see the participant information sheet for Intown Manchester’s Spooky Storefronts Competition.

Downtown dining goes high tech — Several national restaurant chains are spending huge sums on new technologies. Most are aimed at millennial consumers who prefer quick smartphone interactions to standing in line to wait for an order or to be seated. If your downtown restaurants haven’t gone high-tech, it’s only a matter of time. Click here to read the National Restaurant Association infographic Restaurant Payments.

December 2014

A fictional identity gives community a real presence — A campaign built around a simple sock monkey is garnering accolades, awards, and plenty of public attention in Springfield, MO. Another fictional character in Winnipeg, Canada also stired up media attention. Read the archive article on Downtown Peggy.

November 2014

Finessing the “Shop Local” message — The pre-holiday “Shop Local” message is being refined in numerous ways in an effort to reach more potential customers for downtown’s small businesses. Click here to see the Buy Local Currituck Marketing Plan for Currituck County, NC.

Online registration services attract, secure and maintain volunteer relationships — Finding great volunteers, matching them to the right downtown program or event, and managing them can require a lot of staff time. Luckily, online volunteer management programs are available to assist downtown organizations. View an online demonstration of the VolunteerLocal registration form.

Tips on promoting commercial real estate tours — With an upcoming tour of downtown vacancies for real estate professionals looming, Main Street Osceola in Osceola, AR, turned to other downtown professionals for advice via LinkedIn’s Downtown Revitalization discussion group. See the slide deck used to promote a tour of available spaces in Jefferson City, MO.

Simplify permitting process to encourage events — Streamlining a cumbersome event permitting process in El Paso, TX, resulted in a doubling of downtown events. View the Downtown Management District’s streamlined event permitting process.

October 2014

Corporate-driven event benefits downtowns — Large corporations can often be overlooked during the search for event partners. But in Verdun, QC, Canada, the Yellow Pages Group is actually leading the way on a series of city center tasting tours. Learn about the Taste Your Neighbourhood Tours.

Tree sweaters, low-cost public art — First Street in downtown Livermore, CA, got a fresh new look in September when the trunks of 30 street trees were wrapped in unique and colorful tree sweaters. To create a Tree Sweater Forest see the project timeline and details.

September 2014

Beyond Restaurant Week, promoting downtown dining year-round — While Restaurant Week and Dine Around Downtown promotions have proved wildly successful in many city centers, most small business owners need all the support they can get every day of the year. This article covered programs in Berkeley, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, Manchester, NH, and Baltimore, MD. See the resources: general dining guide, late night and weekend dining guide, and digital dining guide.

August 2014

How to form a Tourism Improvement District — Whether a city is using state TID law or home rule authority, the TID formation process follows a fairly typical pattern. Civitas Advisors has worked with dozens of districts and outlines these five steps in TBIDs: Stable Funding For Destination Marketing. Also see TID locations across the country with this interactive map from TourismImprovementDistrict.com, and read the San Francisco State University Study, Tourism Marketing Districts, Creating Jobs, Growing Our Economy.

Customer service defines not just the business, but the downtown — Downtown organizations can help small businesses by offering mystery shopping and other assessment tools to identify strengths and weaknesses, training to help small business owners and their staff address knowledge gaps, and award programs to recognize service excellence. For more on the value of hospitality training, read Hospitality training boosts business downtown from the November 2011 issue of Downtown Promotion Reporter.

Creating an emotional bond with stakeholders — When the Salt Lake Downtown Alliance wanted to instill a sense of downtown ownership in their regional audience, one of many steps was the I am Downtown video contest. Learn more about producing a video contest and how to boost stakeholder attachment.

Heritage tourism makes an impact — In the Heritage Tourism Guidebook, the Texas Historical Commission notes the reasons for the growth in heritage tourism and provides step-by-step information on how to capture this market.

July 2014

Community-wide sales benefit customers, businesses, and organizations — In Dowagiac, MI, a coordinated community-wide garage sale entices customers downtown. View the participant solicitation/registration form.

June 2014

Blended programming draws art lovers and locavores downtown — To help promote artisans and farmers, attract more visitors, and foster job growth, the Belfast Creative Coalition created a farm and arts trail. See the trail map.

May 2014

New brand strengthens and grows local businesses — In 2010, Newport, VT, began promoting itself as being Genuine by Nature. That led to the 2011 roll out of the Newport. Fresh by Nature. campaign, which has helped local restaurants, farmers, and food producers to grow their businesses while strengthening the community brand and attracting complimentary new businesses. See a video about the community garden component of the project.

Electronic tours highlight all that downtown has to offer — Whether you are promoting downtown to newcomers or to locals, an interactive electronic tour offers practical options. For example, Golden, CO, finds an interactive walking tour encourages locals to linger longer and explore new areas of the downtown. While in Midland, MI, a virtual tour enables potential visitors, residents, and business owners to explore the downtown before making an in-person visit. Take the virtual tour of downtown Midland.

April 2014

Busker events are gaining in popularity, part one — Creativity is filling city centers with whimsical creatures, exciting acts, and potential customers who flock downtown to see buskers perform. See the Buskers in the Burg online application and video from Ellensburg, WA.

Welcome gifts connect new movers with downtown — Providing new residents with municipal information, marketing materials, coupons, and other incentives to visit downtown businesses works well as impressionable movers seek to establish new brand loyalties. See the business recruitment and sign-up sheet used for the Fairfax, IA, Welcome Packet Program.

Unified theme weaves blogs, videos, contests, and more into new image for downtown — The 2013 Downtown Dreamers campaign was so successful that a 2014 Calling All Dreamers contest is now underway. View the video promoting the contest and details on the complete prize package.

Co-op ads save retailers as much as $4,000 — Downtown Madison, the central business improvement district in Madison, WI, provides high-value co-op advertising opportunities to members. See all of the co-op advertising and marketing opportunities.

March 2014

Inviting millennials to settle down — Mentor, OH’s, multi-media advertising campaign, included a commercial and banner ad on Pandora online radio. Hear the commercial now.

Finding the best location for a downtown farmers market — The Downtown Farmers Curb Market in Lakeland, FL, operates right on the street in close cooperation with street-level businesses. See the market in action.

February 2014

Collaborative center meets multiple goals — In Durango, CO, the city, the business improvement district, a local college, and the tourism office have created a new welcome center that addresses each of their marketing needs, and more importantly, the needs of visitors to the city center. See a video about the Durango Welcome Center collaboration.

Concise tagline creates buzz while telling the downtown story — Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 launched its new Cya Downtown, Milwaukee campaign last May. See the Cya Downtown television spots and hear the radio ads.

Put a name on it — Naming rights at downtown’s Windsor Castle Park in Smithfield, VA, range from $500 to $20,000 depending on the amenity selected. Here are all of the Naming Rights details.

January 2014

Bicycles are becoming more accepted on downtown streets — Concerns about the environment, rising costs for fuel and parking, and an interest in fitness are making bicycles a popular mode of transportation for many downtowners. Read the article Bike-sharing trend gaining traction downtown.

Special event bylaws create common framework — Ottawa, ON, Canada, has a well deserved reputation as a city of festivals and events. The city hosts multiple events each month that draw local, national, and international visitors. So when the city decides to revamp its event bylaws, other communities can learn from both the process and the outcome. Read the new Special Events on Public and Private Property Bylaw.

Festivals from around the world — Covering yourself in tomatoes, mud, water, and dye are just some of the ways people are celebrating at festivals around the world. See 23 World Festivals You Won’t Want to Miss.

Marketing to new business owners with an info session — The Downtown Committee in Syracuse, NY, is attracting new businesses through an annual event that highlights the resources available to potential retailers. See the event schedule.

December 2013

Downtown organization increases event schedule by sponsoring rather than producing events — View examples of the application form that is the first step in requesting funds and learn about some of the creative events.

Application: Soundwalk

Application: Film and Music Festival

Application: Oktoberfest

Creating a successful downtown film festival — The Traverse City Film Festival in Traverse City, MI, has been going strong for nine years. See the organizations FAQ Sheet and details on its accomplishments.

Creative solution to need for public event space — A stunning example of adaptive reuse comes from the small town of York, MS. Lacking a central gathering area and performance space the city decided to create one on the site of a dilapidated single-family house. View the transforming theater.

November 2013

Art and teamwork are expanding the downtown footprint — Belfast, ME, boasts a Main Street organization, the Belfast Creative Coalition, a city economic development office, and the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce. The leaders of the four organizations meet at least monthly to see how they can support each other, avoid duplication of effort, and maximize opportunities. They have even developed an Excel “cheat sheet” so that they can provide seamless service to prospective business owners.

E-commerce expands customer outreach — Having an online sales option enables brick-and-mortar retailers to promote products to customers outside their own communities, and also draws more foot traffic into downtown businesses. By sharing one website, each business can have its own fully functional e-commerce presence for a fraction of the cost of creating individual sites. See the Historic Quincy Business District E-Commerce Participant Agreement.

October 2013

Video contests generate unique perspectives and low-cost marketing materials — Rather than paying staff or filmmakers to spend hours creating promotional photographs, videos, and sound bites, some downtown organizations are sponsoring video contests and then using the entries for future marketing efforts. The October issue of Downtown Promotion Reporter shows readers how. Click here to see a sample video contest entry form.

Outdoor fitness zones gain popularity in city centers — Increasingly, city centers are exploring ways to keep residents healthier and to contribute to their quality of life, which in turn creates a more vibrant downtown full of active people. Communities across the nation are finding creative way to fund fitness zones, and installing them in a variety of configurations, from accessories to existing fitness trails to functional public art. View a brief video, which shows the sculptural City Art Gym in use.

September 2013

Mushing is not just for huskies — March 1 is the first day of the Iditarod, a 1,100-mile-long dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome, AK. Some downtowns are creating races of their own — using shopping carts and teams of human mushers. Three events were profiled in the September issue of Downtown Promotion Reporter. See the map and rules from the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis Idiotarod.

New market draws weekend customers downtown — By offering a wide range of fresh and prepared foods, varied programming, areas for gathering and dining, and cross promoting with downtown events and main street businesses, New Rochelle, NY’s Grand Market is a blueprint for success. Click to see images of the market.

Good communication and lots of promotions keep downtown bustling during construction — Faced with a lengthy and disruptive downtown construction project, the Main Street program in Ogallala, NE, was determined “not merely to cope but to make the experience a positive one.” View some of the many collateral materials used during the Downtown Construction Ahead — So What! campaign.

Construction Calendar

Construction Details

Alternate Routes

August 2013

Uniqueness factor and local support key to event success — For an event to become sustainable, it must have the support of local businesses, and it must continue to draw crowds year after year. The August issue of Downtown Promotion Reporter shows how the Annual Great American Duck Race does just that. Hear the radio ads, view the tv commercial.

Deming Duck Race TV ad

Deming Duck Race radio ad from 2011

Deming Duck Race radio ad from 2010

Art events can benefit all downtown businesses — Events that highlight the local creative economy are a wonderful addition to downtown cultural offerings. See how the Bozeman Downtown Art Walks activate downtown. View the promotional materials sent annually to downtown businesses encouraging participation.

Creating a year-round tourism community — Promoting an “open year-round” message helped Eureka Springs, AR, bolster the local economy. See the marketing materials.

Save the Date Invitation

Shopping in Eureka Springs web page

Winter Hideaway in Eureka Springs web page

How to reach out to writers — When a community has a story to tell, it’s important to engage the media. Here are links to national travel and outdoor writers’ organizations.

The Society of American Travel Writers

The Outdoor Writers Association of America

The Editorial Freelancers Association

The American Society of Journalists and Authors

June 2013

Sculpture in the Streets program enlivens downtown — Art exhibits staged in public spaces attract visitors downtown and provide the opportunity to view art in a new way. The June issue of Downtown Promotion Reporter features Albany, NY’s Sculpture in the Streets program. Here you’ll find the BID’s Sculpture in the Street map and a video highlighting the exhibit of late kinetic sculptor George Rickey’s work.

Homegrown event creates buzz and builds business with good natured competition — Tapping into the competitive spirit of sports and dining enthusiasts, the Downtown Madness campaign promoted restaurants and attracted online followers. A local sportscaster was even brought in to do a YouTube video replicating the March Madness selection show.

Building an Instagram community — In the June issue, Downtown Promotion Reporter announced publication of Hearty, Wholesome, and Homemade: Building an Instagram Community that Thrives. You may read it here.

April 2013

Promoting a business contest, and a community — The It Starts Here Challange in Princeton, MN, included the following collateral materials, a website, Facebook page, radio spot, flyers, and press releases. Local and regional newspapers and radio stations contributed some advertising, as well. And the contest generated enough buzz to earn a slot on the evening news. Read the complete It Starts Here Challenge description and rules.

February 2013

Investment in the arts means business — The nonprofit organization Americans for the Arts recently released its study Arts & Economic Prosperity IV. We provide encouraging data regarding the return on arts investment nationally, and on a local scale, in Downtown Promotion Reporter. You may read the report summary here.

Smart retailers reach out to smartphone shoppers — Increasingly, downtown retailers are learning how to engage smartphone owners and lure them away from Internet and big box shopping. Read the report The dawn of mobile influence: Discovering the value of mobile in retail.

Highlighting downtown’s heritage draws visitors — This article covers several ways that communities highlight downtown heritage, add visual interest, educate people about a community’s history, and draw visitors downtown.

See the Chillicothe Missouri Mural Map

See the Excelsior Springs walking tour map

Reducing fuel consumption at festivals and events — With rising fuel costs and an increasing awareness of sustainability, many large festivals are looking for ways to cut fuel consumption. Download The Power Behind Festivals: A guide to sustainable power at outdoor events.

January 2013

Pop-ups becoming part of the annual holiday scene — When holiday pop-up programs first gained popularity, it was to add some vitality to vacant storefronts during the dark days of the Great Recession. However, the programs have proved valuable, not only in dressing up empty storefronts, but in boosting sales, drawing foot traffic downtown, generating media attention for the city center, and incubating new permanent businesses.

For background on pop-up programs read “Pop-up shops make downtown more festive,” from the December 2011 issue of Downtown Promotion Reporter.


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