“How to Support Local Business in Winter, NOW!”

Jan 22, 2021 | News, Newsletter

Bridget Anderson & Camryn Greer
Patronicity

 

In the midst of the pandemic, Main Streets and commercial centers around the world are working to rapidly reinvent themselves in an attempt to extend a lifeline to their struggling small businesses. Open streets, “streateries,” shared streets, expanded sidewalks, new bike lanes and more are popping up from city to town in an effort to save the lifeblood of their local economies and the heart and soul of their communities.

It’s time to get creative, if we want to bring customers back to our small business community and provide a safe social space for ourselves and our neighbors.* This can look like adapting current spaces to reflect this “new normal,” activating under-utilized spots in your community to create new spaces to gather, eat, and shop, or even just leveraging connections in your community to help small businesses collect the funds they need to help them stay afloat. In April of 2020, Patronicity launched a series of programs geared towards COVID19 relief for small businesses. Here’s what we found from our 242 small business campaigns, all varying in need, size, and services.

FACILITATING CONNECTION

At the end of the day, it’s all about finding new ways to connect your community to your spaces.

Telling YOUR story What makes your business or commercial center unique? What kind of role do small businesses play in your community, especially during COVID19? Finding creative ways to communicate the value of your small business sector to your community via social media and other online platforms is a great way to attract more local participation and position your business as a key stakeholder in your community.

Deepening existing connections – Communities are interconnected. Finding ways for key players from private, public and nonprofit sectors should share services, ideas, and resources. Collaborating in mutually beneficial ways can have a huge impact on the local economy. One great example of this is the LaPorte Christkindlmarkt, which combines the arts, physical activity, local crafts vendors, and small businesses and restaurants in the area.

CREATING SAFE PLACES

Pre-COVID19, we were seeing trends shift customers and investment away from traditional shopping malls and back into the local business community. Now, there are so many opportunities to use our commercial spaces in new, exciting, and SAFE ways. So much can be accomplished by changing or adapting a space in small or big ways.

Ensuring consistency – Consider the health and safety guidelines and procedures related to COVID19 as an opportunity to innovate, expand, or adapt. Even moving to an online ordering system has long-term benefits to your patrons. Here’s an example of activating unused space from the Richmond Winter Farmers Market which responded to the demand for more space by reenvisioning an existing but unused space.

Using what you know  – Simple steps like propping open doors, providing masks and sanitizing materials, and managing the number of people in a space at any given time can make a positive difference in the way patrons feel when attending an event or visiting a small business or restaurant. Here is one example of a small business taking steps to make their space patron-friendly in a pandemic world.

*Need ideas? Winter Places sent out a call seeking design ideas for quickly implementable, low cost interventions to drive visitors back to Main Street that will encourage them to stay longer and patronize area restaurants and businesses during the winter months. This effort resulted in an in-depth guide, which can be downloaded for free here, full of ideas on how your spaces can be adapted and activated for safer gathering, eating, and shopping in a winter world.

In Memoriam – The Life of Dan Evers

I first met Dan in the fall of 2016.  I had moved to Central Ohio over the late holiday season in 2015 to begin serving as the new Director of GROW Licking County CIC, Dan’s former role.  I was immediately struck by many in the community who worried that I would “not be enough,” that the “shoes were too big,” and that “Dan was larger than life.”  And they were right. 

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OEDA 2022 Annual Excellence Awards – Call for Nominations

The Ohio Economic Development Association’s annual Excellence Awards program recognizes the achievements of individuals and organizations in Ohio in the areas of economic and workforce development.  Submit your nominations today and have excellence in your community recognized statewide!

A panel of judges will evaluate the nominations, determine finalists, and select a winner for each of the categories noted below.  Award winners will be announced in conjunction with the 2022 OEDA Annual Summit, being held October 3-6 at the Exchange at Bridge Park in Dublin, Ohio. 

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