Few can argue that the Main Streets of America have been in decline for years. But that has not always been the case.
Before World War II, the downtown area was the commercial hub for big cities and small towns alike.
Thanks to the efforts of organizations like Main Street America and state and local revitalization groups, many declining communities are turning around and becoming vibrant, livable places — and businesses in these areas would be wise to help.
So what can your business do if it finds itself trapped in a waning area?
Plenty, say two proponents of urban revitalization efforts: Becky McCray and Deb Brown.
Through a project they started called Save Your Town, McCray, a business owner in Alva, Oklahoma, along with Brown, Executive Director of the Webster City (Iowa) Area Chamber of Commerce, lead workshops and seminars in municipalities across the country, teaching local business owners and government officials how to turn the downtown around.
They spoke with Small Business Trends by phone and provided the following six pointers for businesses looking to participate in revitalization efforts.
1. Partner With Other Businesses
“Talk to other business owners regularly with the intent of revitalizing the downtown,” McCray said. “Share ideas and dream up activities together. Put the power of the network into action.”
She said that when people connect, they will come up with better ideas together than what they could on their own.
Brown added that business owners should look for other like-minded individuals and avoid the “committee of negativity,” the people who question the use of innovative ideas.
2. Participate in Special Events
Special events already take place downtown, but the hardest thing for people who organize them is to get participation from business owners, McCray said.
She urged business owners to “volunteer, spread the word, be open during the time the event is going on and have a relevant activity taking place in your store.”
She gave as an example, an evening art walk.
“Have an artistic activity in your place of business during the event, such as an artist displaying her works or a musician performing his songs,” McCray said. “Go through your customer list and find out who does something artsy and invite them to present in your store…”