Invited guests last Wednesday attended the release of a detailed market study for Main Street Enterprise at the civic center.
Main Street Director Cassidi Kendrick said the program, largely compiled and presented by Jay Schlinsog of Downtown Professionals Network and Main Street Alabama Coordinator Mary Helmer, was the result of about nine months of work.
Kendrick and her board coordinated surveys of more than 1,000 consumers and 55 downtown businesses earlier this year.
“They had a resource team visit last August, before I was hired,” she added. “Some information they took is in here.”
Schlinsog said much of his presentation was altered in recent months because something completely unforeseen happened — COVID-19.
So his approach was two-pronged. First, to share the market analysis results, second to help discuss initiatives to “Reopen Main Street.”
“What I liked the most is how he took the survey results and worked in suggestions for each of the four points of Main Street,” Kendrick said. “Now that you have the information, how do you implement it? That’s what I’m going to try to focus on doing.”
She said the report has some great information.
“It’s the facts behind all the feelings that everybody has for things they want downtown,” she said. “Here’s a good starting place for a master plan. The community has spoken and said they want … this. This is a good starting place for us. “
Schlinsog said part of Main Street’s vision is to design, organize, promote and assist economic vitality downtown. Certainly, recruiting new businesses is part of that. But particularly in the COVID-19 season, retention is a key component, as well.
“I think Jay really focused on this a lot,” Kendrick said. “Main Street is about recruiting new businesses to the district, for sure, but it’s also about helping your existing people that are already there.
“We’ve got a ton of businesses down there and we’ve got a really good mix. There’s definitely room for more, but we want to keep our existing people going, too. That’s how I plan on using this report.”
She said she plans on setting up meetings with different segments of the downtown economy — with restaurants, with retail and with our professional services — and picking out the information that speaks to them the most.
She will share consumer survey results with restaurant owners, for instance. Or the kind of retail shops people would like to see downtown.
“I’m going to cull the information out and see how I can help individual groups,” Kendrick said.