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Tag: Branding

D.5.1 Placemaking & Wayfinding Signage

D.5.1 Placemaking & Wayfinding Signage

Action

Improve district and wayfinding signage.

Why

A successful downtown main street layout will include highly visible, easy-to-read, and decorative way-finding signage.  The goal is to have a positive experience for both the pedestrian and motorist who are navigating through the district.

How

There are numerous wayfinding and district signage plans available.  Once signage locations have been determined, it’s important to list all points of interest, municipal service locations, transit options, and other significant destinations.

CMSC Professional Affiliates

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Downtown Decorations, Inc.

Downtown Decorations, Inc.

CUSTOM DESIGN. Endless Possibilities.

For over 20 years Downtown Decorations, Inc has been working in partnership with Main Street’s all across the country as a supplier and designer of commercial holiday décor programs, lighting and all year round light pole banners.

If you are looking for décor for spring, summer, or fall, or even to be the best-decorated city on National Tortilla Chip Day, don’t hesitate to call on them. They are also one of the leading producers of light pole banners, and like all aspects of their company, provide customization on every level. If you can draw it, photograph it, or write it, they can print it.

Services

Services include: Supply & design of commercial holiday décor programs, lighting and all year round light pole banners.

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Contact

Ted Peterson
309 Wavel Street
Syracuse, NY 13206
accounting@downtowndecorations.com

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Shire Lyon Ads

Shire Lyon Ads

ADVERTISING • SEO • WEB DESIGN • CONTENT

Shire’s sole focus is to help small businesses on and off Main Street to scale their revenue through quality and creative content marketing and inventive paid search ads. Her main expertise in media writing, turn-key digital marketing, paid ads, SEO, and SEM has driven exceptional strategies and outcomes for Shire Lyon Ads clients in the medical, business, law, and finance industries. 

Services

Services include: Digital marketing including digital strategy planning, SEO, local SEO, paid ads (social and search), Google Ads grants, social media posting, and more.

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Contact

Shire Lyon
15 Stonewall Lane
Branford, CT 06405
(475) 209-3351‬
info@shirelyon.com

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Levin Aerial Works, LLC

Levin Aerial Works, LLC

Above and beyond

Levin Aerial Works provides top quality aerial and ground-based photography and videography to help showcase your residential or commercial property or event with unique and awe-inspiring views. 

Services

Services include: Photography, Videography, Virtual Tours

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Contact

Milton Levin, Owner
77 Birchwood heights
Storrs, CT 06268
860.341.1244
levinaerialworks@gmail.com

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Seth Duke & Company

Seth Duke & Company

Your Business is challenging. Marketing it shouldn’t be

Seth Duke & Company is a Connecticut-based boutique marketing agency specializing in branding, marketing strategy and digital marketing for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Services

Services include: Promotion & Marketing, Strategic Planning, Small Business Development, Social Media, Photo/Video/Drone

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Contact

Seth Duke
30 Main Street
Terryville, CT 06786
www.sethduke.com 

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Allegra Anderson Photography

Allegra Anderson Photography

Connecticut-based professional photographer

At the heart of what I do, I work closely with clients to define a clear and specific vision of the content that they need to showcase their brands — I collaborate with art producers, business owners, and entrepreneurs to create compelling, intimate images that help attract their ideal audiences, increase their communities of followers, and grow their businesses.

Services

Services include: Premiere commercial photography

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Contact

Allegra Anderson
South Glastonbury, CT
allegra@allegraanderson.com

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PIRIE Associates Architects LLC

PIRIE Associates Architects LLC

Architecture to embody your aspirations

We specialize in working with clients who are ready to take their business, organization, or community to the next level by purposefully engaging their built environment. Our work is not driven by project type or style, but by a clients’ willingness to see their environment as an active collaborator in their day to day life, organization or community. Within this focus, we have developed expertise with residential, commercial, institutional, historical and urban design work, and have particular depth in using broad, integrated strategies for business/organization development and community engagement. To work at this level, our tool kit often expands beyond that of a traditional architect as we use our skills in related fields and modes of investigation.

Services

Services include: Architectural, Interior Design, Landscape, Urban Planning & Branding Services

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Contact

Laura Pirie, Principal
33 Whitney Avenue – Suite 2a
New Haven, CT 06510
203.821.2087
laura@pirieassociates.com

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CMSC Case Study: The Beatrice, NE, Approach to Defeating Negativity

CMSC Case Study

The Beatrice, NE Approach to Defeating Negativity

Webinar Summary

The community of Beatrice, Nebraska was struggling with negative perceptions and apathy after years of economic setbacks. Community leaders needed to take action to push back against the perception of negativity and defeatism.

In 2015, they came together and developed a plan to help facilitate change. By 2018, Beatrice was named the #1 micropolitan community in Nebraska—#14 nationally—for large scale (mostly manufacturing) economic development projects by Site Selection Magazine. Now, post-COVID Beatrice is working to gain back the momentum they had been building.

In this webinar, Michael Sothan, the Executive Director of Main Street Beatrice, shares the journey of changing the perception of Beatrice and six lessons learned along the way.

Presentation Highlights


  • The Problem

    Beatrice struggled for decades with the loss of jobs and businesses, a stagnating population, and a dilapidated downtown.

    Around 2013, an opinion piece in the local newspaper called out the town’s apathy as the root of the town’s decline around the same time a building downtown collapsed in on itself. The coincidence of these events became a defining moment for leaders of Beatrice to come together and actively fight against negativity and apathy.

  • The Solution

    Main Street, City government, the Chamber of Commerce, economic development, and public schools came together to create a plan to aggressively take on the negativity.

    The plan included a rebranding, façade improvement, and other projects. As a result:

    • Downtown Beatrice is home to over 180 businesses, a net gain of 31 shops since 2016. 
    • In the last 5 years, they have had more than 100 improvement projects totaling $12.5 million in investments.
  • Lessons Learned

    The first six lessons were included in the original case study article posted on Main Street America, lessons 7-10 CMSC added from observation. 

    1. Find the Forest through the Trees – Don’t get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of your work but keep focused on the big picture.
    2. Work Together (and think holistically) – The Public Schools were engaged to join the traditional economic development stakeholders. They had the deepest connections to Beatrice’s youth and the school system is a leading factor when people are considering making Beatrice their permanent home. The schools were experiencing the apathy firsthand, among students, staff, and in the community; they had also had a series of failed bond issues for a new elementary facility. They got involved to help role out the brand imagery, they incorporated it into their own uses school system-wide and helped Beatrice disseminate the message to and through the kids so it could get back home.
    3. Make a Plan
    4. Start Taking Action – No matter how small, action builds momentum. Something as simple as paint can make a big difference.
    5. Know that Set-Backs & Burnout Will Happen
    6. Be Honest & Positive – As economic development professionals, it’s easier to see potential and positivity because it is your job. However, most people do not see that. Being overtly positive and not recognizing the negativity will not be accepted by the community as authentic or trustworthy. Remember, perception is reality.
    7. Be Aggressive – Michael Sothan in his webinar presentation used words like “fight” and “go to war” to describe the level of commitment and effort to turn Beatrice around. It’s not a passive undertaking to tackle a declining town.
    8. Focus on People – Beatrice took the approach that only we can save our town. They knew they couldn’t wait for some investment, some grant, some outsider to save their city. Beatrice leaders realized it’s the people who own the businesses and buildings that will change the city.
    9. Always Tell Your Story – You can never get tired of telling your story because there is always someone who hasn’t caught the vision or seen the progress. Michael tells the story of speaking to a group of retired teachers who were so fixated on what used to be downtown that they didn’t even notice the new businesses and progress that had been made.
    10. Leverage Your Assets – For Beatrice’s rebranding effort, they chose a brand around “Stake Your Claim” which pays homage for being nationally recognized as the first homestead. Beatrice is currently rebranding after 10 years and pulling on the pronunciation of their town (Bee-at-trice) with a “Be @…” campaign.

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About Michael Sothan

Michael Sothan is the Executive Director of Main Street Beatrice in Beatrice Nebraska (pop 12,300).  He has been with Main Street Beatrice since 2013 and has been a part of Downtown Beatrice’s efforts to become listed on the National Register of Historic Places, undertake façade improvement programs, and regularly guides downtown improvements, events, and economic development efforts.

Michael is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He resides in Steele City, NE (population 60) where he and his wife Megan have purchased an 1890’s grocery store with plans for its rehabilitation.  Michael enjoys living history interpretation and the outdoors when not working on community development efforts.

Contact Info

Main Street Beatrice

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Case Study: The Beatrice, NE, Approach to Defeating Negativity

The community of Beatrice, Nebraska had been struggling with negative perceptions and apathy due to economic setbacks in recent decades. Community leaders needed to take action to push back the perception of negativity and defeatism.

In 2015, they came together and developed a plan to help facilitate change. By 2018, Beatrice was named the #1 micropolitan community in Nebraska—#14 nationally—for large scale (mostly manufacturing) economic development projects by Site Selection Magazine. Now, post-COVID Beatrice is working to gain back the momentum they had been building.

In this webinar, Michael Sothan, the Executive Director of Main Street Beatrice, will share the journey of changing the perception of Beatrice and six lessons learned along the way.

Sponsorship opportunities available! View the flyer

About the Presenter

Michael Sothan is the Executive Director of Main Street Beatrice in Beatrice Nebraska (pop 12,300).  He has been with Main Street Beatrice since 2013 and has been a part of Downtown Beatrice’s efforts to become listed on the National Register of Historic Places, undertake façade improvement programs, and regularly guides downtown improvements, events, and economic development efforts.

Michael is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He resides in Steele City, NE (population 60) where he and his wife Megan have purchased an 1890’s grocery store with plans for its rehabilitation.  Michael enjoys living history interpretation and the outdoors when not working on community development efforts.

CSMC Webinar: How to Fill Vacant Storefronts

CMSC Webinar

How to Fill Vacant Storefronts

Webinar Summary

Every Main Street will face vacancies from time to time, and COVID only exacerbated this challenge across Connecticut and the country. Not only are persistent vacancies detrimental to creating and sustaining a vibrant downtown, but they also have a negative economic impact on the community. In this webinar, our presenter Ilana Preuss – international speaker, and fierce advocate for creating great places and small-scale manufacturing – shares:

  • Innovative approaches to filling vacant storefronts from around the country
  • Programmatic ideas to collaborate with property owners
  • Long-term solutions to keep storefronts full by supporting local small business ecosystems

Presentation Highlights

  • 5 Reasons why vacant storefronts exist

    1. Cost of renovation: The cost to renovate a vacant space is too high and the market does not support a lease rate that supports the cost of renovation.
    2. Tax benefits: Property owners gain a tax benefit on the loss of not leasing space.
    3. Devalue underwriting: For new, big development projects, the owner doesn’t want to lower the price of the storefronts to not devalue the whole project if they are looking to sell or refinance at some point.
    4. Guaranteed lease: This is common to see in malls or big box strip centers, where a major anchor tenant has a guaranteed lease for an extended period of time so no one else can come into the space.
    5. Mismatch of real estate sizes and small business needs: A lot of communities have a lot of storefronts that are 2,000-10,000 square feet when a lot of small businesses need 500-1,000 square feet.
  • Context & national trends that are influencing our downtowns:

    • Vacant storefronts reduce the value of nearby property by 20% or more. They reduce traffic to these areas and leads to a feeling of isolation in the community. The impact of vacancies are multi-fold and in many cases create a downward spiral in communities.
    • During COVID, a lot of businesses pivoted, some survived, and many did not.
    • Over 1 million COVID deaths impacted our householders, economy, and individuals. The psychological impact of the pandemic cannot be ignored.
    • A lot of people started businesses in recent years without a lot of business experience. They started small business because they lost their jobs or decided to pursue their passion or a different quality of life.
    • People are demanding higher wages and pay.
    • Before the pandemic we saw demographic shifts such as decline in working age population and growing income and wealth inequality – which have only been exacerbated during COVID.
    • A lot of major chains shrunk their footprint and are focusing on prime locations.
  • Strategies to fill vacant storefronts

    1. Support small business

    Specifically focus on small-scale manufacturing (businesses that make consumer products). These businesses have opportunities for different sources of revenue making them more resilient – retail, wholesale, online, pop-ups, etc. They are a draw for foot traffic in your downtown and bring people together.

    • Provide financing to support these businesses
      • Provide incubators, accelerators, or other support programs to help them gain business skills and/or how they can move into storefronts particularly when paired with market opportunities and financing
      • Examples of training programs for getting home-based businesses into storefronts: Baltimore Home Run Accelerator, 37 Oaks

    2. Commercial Vacancy Tax Ordinance

    3. Tax Increment Finance (TIF) or other funding vehicle with matching grants

    4. Financing for local business to buy real estate

    • Keep real estate ownership local by providing support and financing options for local small business owners who have the interest and capacity to purchase property.
    • Examples: Pittsburgh

    5.Commercial Land Trust


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About Ilana Preuss

Ilana Preuss is the Founder and CEO of Recast City and the author of the new book “Recast Your City: How to Save Your Downtown with Small-Scale Manufacturing.”

Preuss’ passion for great places grew out of her experience working with small and large cities all over the country when she led the technical assistance program at the U.S. EPA Smart Growth Program, and as the Vice President & Chief of Staff at Smart Growth America. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University and a Masters of City Planning from the University of Maryland.

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