Thursday, August 28, 2014

It Takes Hard Work to Make Positive Impressions

By Katie Bass, Project Associate.

“The key is not the age of the institution but its creativity and its persistence. A single game changer, no matter how transformative or creative, does not an economy reshape. Sustaining the gain means engaging in a continuous process of inquiry and investigation, reinvention and renewal, in which one gain leads to another, and then another, and then another. Successful metros, in other words, never stop. They do not rest on their laurels, they build on their successes.”

The Metropolitan Revolution by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley

Often communities we work with say that one of their challenges is combating negative perceptions. Those negative perceptions are typically born out of a personal experience or a story of someone else’s experience – ah, the old adage that perception is reality. Shaping a long-lasting, positive impression on a visitor helps to reverse negative connotations of your community because not only do you make a positive impression on the visitor, that visitor passes on their experiences to their friends, coworkers, and perhaps even their blog followers – the impact of a single experience is multiplied much farther than one realizes.

I thought of this because I was in Denver last weekend for a friend’s wedding, and I must say, I was impressed with the Downtown Denver area. We stayed in the area around the 16th Street Mall – a pedestrian-only street, with the exception of the free mall shuttle that continuously drives from one end of the boulevard to the other. Not only was I impressed with the fact that they had efficient, convenient, and free transportation, the whole environment was spotless and felt surprisingly safe for a downtown in a major city. The is because the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District (BID) has committed to a clean and safe Downtown environment by making it a priority and having a year-round, seven-day-a-week schedule to keep up with the maintenance of the 16th Street Mall and its amenities. In addition to the year-round schedule of maintenance, the BID manages a Downtown Ambassador program that serves as a safe and welcoming presence in the area. The members are the eyes and ears of the place and focus on the quality of life aspects – such as panhandling and graffiti – that could diminish a visitor’s experience.
Over the past couple decades, the people in Denver have been making incredible strides to contribute to the area’s economic development success and aren’t looking to slow down any time soon. As Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership so eloquently put it, “It’s not about the endgame so much as the roadmap. It’s a combination of thousands of tiny goals that project 20 years into the future.” Further making her point, “Some cities look to hit a homerun…we’ve been bunting year and year after year.” The revitalization of the 120-year old Union Station and its recent opening is just another, albeit much larger, project in the long-term commitment to the city’s future. Up next there are plans for rail service to the Denver International Airport within the next few years. The momentum behind these improvements began when the Downtown Denver Partnership, BID, and various other public and private partners, along with the City and County of Denver came together and produced the Denver Downtown Area Plan, which was adopted by the Denver City Council in 2007. Thanks to these and many other collaborations and partnerships, the community has its roadmap and together is continuously making positive changes and working hard to build a better city.

A successful plan for a community requires people that care enough to deliberately and continuously put in the effort to make their community better and that residents and stakeholders all buy-in to the process. Check out an inspiring crowdfunding video from Springfield, MO if you want to see evidence of people who love their community and are intentionally trying to make their home a better place to live. It’s a powerful, honest video and illustrates the pride people have in their community. While you’re on youtube, there’s another video, slightly longer, that I also enjoyed watching recently. This one is a Ted Talk that Jason Roberts did on the Better Block project. The Better Block project is a grassroots effort where caring residents and stakeholders across the U.S. are working together to illustrate the potential that areas in their town have and what they could look like if they were invested in or if ordinances changed to allow for certain businesses. It’s important that economic development efforts successfully leverage such groups, as they are in Denver and many other cities.

It’s all very inspiring, but at the same time, daunting. Economic development efforts are never-ending and require a lot of hard work, but with the right people and vision, a community can make great things happen.

Friday, August 22, 2014

ACCE 2014 Takeaway: Over-the-Rhine is a Revitalization Best Practice

By Alexia Eanes, Operations Manager. 

Last week over 800 people traveled to downtown Cincinnati for the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) annual convention and centennial celebration. Market Street is proud to be a sponsor of ACCE and we always look forward to spending a week with Chamber leaders celebrating their accomplishments and efforts. The annual convention is held in a different city each year to showcase different offerings and improvements that the hosting city has accomplished. Cincinnati proved to be a perfect location, not only because ACCE was founded within the city 100 years ago but also because of the significant downtown revitalization efforts that have occurred recently such as the Duke Energy Convention Center, the Great American Ballpark, and the Horseshoe Casino among others.

Downtown Cincinnati, like many other cities, is experiencing a boom in the urban core. People are moving back downtown and things are happening and being built. Close to downtown, a neighborhood that has gone through historical trials and tribulations but is now coming out on top: Over-the-Rhine, or OTR for short. In the mid-19th century OTR experienced substantial German in-migration, hence adopting the main river in Germany in the districts name, the Rhine. OTR was a predominantly German area with German magazines, bakeries, beer halls, and European architecture dominating the quarter. Streets are still lined with historic buildings that create unique character for the area and are a priority for many preservationists. Unfortunately, after World War II, the neighborhood started experiencing a continuous decline transforming it to one of the most distressed neighborhoods in the nation. In the early 2000’s 58 percent of the area’s residents lived at or below the poverty line, 25 percent were unemployed, and the area’s median household income stood at $10,000, and crime was at an all-time high. Things got so bad that in 2006 the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed it as one of the eleven most endangered historic places in the nation.

With these sobering statistics, where does a city even begin to try and make the area more prosperous? In 2003 the City of Cincinnati became involved and enlisted its major corporate leaders to create the Cincinnati City Center Development Corp. (3CDC) to take on the issue. 3CDC is a non-profit, real estate development and finance organization that works primarily in OTR and Cincinnati’s central business district and has overseen much of the revitalization that has occurred over the past couple years. Since its incorporation, 3CDC has restored hundreds of historic buildings creating living units, commercial space, and parking decks to accommodate the area’s new visitors. To date, 3CDC has invested $315 million dollars ($53 million of that is public support) in OTR.

With the time, dedication, and investment in the area, it is now booming. Young professionals are purchasing condos in renovated buildings and restaurants and businesses are moving into the area. Washington Park, a major green space and meeting place in OTR, received a $48 million facelift. The historic Brewery District is even tapping into its German past and holding events such as Bockfest, the OTR Biergarten, and hosting tours on the Brewing Heritage Trail. The ever popular and historically preserved Findlay Market is thriving economically after receiving a major facelift, and brings in diverse crowns from all over the area to shop locally. Things are happening, people are moving in, and there’s a general feeling of place being created.

As national statistics show that more and more people are choosing to move into downtowns and urban areas, cities and city leaders are taking notice. Cincinnati’s focus on OTR and its surrounding business district is a great example, as well as a great best practice, for what can happen when you create a space where people want to be.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Chamber Executives Association Celebrates 100 Years

By Jim Vaughan, Senior Fellow

Early in the 20th century, chambers of commerce were known generally as “commercial organizations” and their executives were called “secretaries.” So when two regional associations met in Cincinnati in 1914 to approve a merger, the name chosen was National Association of Commercial Organization Secretaries.

NACOS became the American Chamber of Commerce Executives in 1948 and the organization has been known as ACCE ever since although the acronym will now stand for Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.

The titles of the members of the association have also changed—from secretary, to executive secretary, to executive director, to executive vice president, to president—as their roles and responsibilities have been increased.

But one thing hasn’t changed. That is the association’s commitment to assist the executives of local and state chambers of commerce improve the communities they represent.

Mick Fleming, ACCE’s President, calls it an inspiring story of our shared heritage.

“The history of chambers, the growth of the modern economy and the building of viable communities—it’s all one story—a moving tale of courage, imagination, relationships and persistence,” Fleming said.

Chamber of commerce professionals from across North America gather in Cincinnati on August 12-15 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of ACCE and to begin the organization’s Second Century. As the National Economic Development Sponsor of ACCE, Market Street Services is again presenting programs and serving on panels at the convention:
  • Quality of Place as an Economic Driver with Market Street’s Mac Holladay along with panelists David Brown, President and CEO, Greater Omaha Chamber and Brad Lacy, President and CEO, Conway Area Chamber; and
  • Tapping the Entrepreneurial Culture featuring Christa Tinsley Spaht together with Sean Kennedy, Greenhouse Manager, St. Petersburg Area Chamber; Michael Dalby, President and CEO, Columbus Chamber; and Penny Lewandowski, Vice President of Entrepreneurship, Edward Lowe Foundation.
Many of our past and present clients are also presenting or serving as panelists at the conference:
  • Growing Diverse Businesses with Nika White, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion, Greenville Chamber alongside Crystal German, Vice President, Economic Inclusion, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
  • Put Your Foundation to Work featuring panelist Ralph Schulz, President and CEO, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce along with fellow panelist Tim Sheehy, President, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.
  • You’re Certifiable presented by Ben Haskew, President and CEO, Greenville Chamber of Commerce together with Robert L. Quick, President and CEO, Commerce Lexington Inc.
  • Cultivating Diverse Leaders with Valerie Patton, Vice President, Economic Inclusion, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Harold Boone Sr., Vice President, Minority Business Development, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. They will be joined by Sonya Hughes, Vice President, Inclusion and Community Leadership, Grand Rapids Area Chamber.
  • And more!
Market Street is proud to support ACCE at the convention and throughout the year and we appreciate the business relationships we enjoy with so many ACCE-member chambers.

If you’re attending the convention, come see us at booth #206 to see how we can help you help your community.