You Spoke. We Listened.
During the 4th Q of 2019, Fort Payne Main Street conducted a series of focus group meetings to gain insight into our organizational direction for 2020 and beyond. Our board of directors each presented at least three people to be invited to the meetings, and in turn, those people were asked to bring a friend or encourage others to join us. Participating in the focus group meetings were people from all walks of life–business owners, clergy, elected officials, artists, marketers and others.
Our goal was to distill information gathered from the focus group meetings into a single focus. We wanted to know both what merchants, restaurants, and businesses in our Main Street District needed and what Fort Payne residents wanted as well, to make the district more enticing to them.
We were looking for 1 BIG Thing.
We also wanted to see if desires had changed since 2016, the first full year of our Main Street designation, when Main Street Alabama, had conducted its initial market analysis. When you become a Main Street town, our governing organization, Main Street Alabama, conducts a complete baseline assessment of the community. They look for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. They interview hundreds of people and have countless town hall meetings. In our case, they talked with over 1000 people.
They also conducted a formal market analysis to understand leakage (people leaving here to go elsewhere for goods and services) and areas where we have adequate services to meet demand.
Back to the 1 BIG Thing.
We had excellent attendance during our 2019 focus group meetings, proving people were interested. Not only were they interested, but they were also exuberant. So much so, that we realized that our 1 BIG Thing plan was not going to work.
We put all the ideas—12 to 15 of them—up for a vote. Three of those ideas rose to the top.
Those 3 BIG Things are:
- Recruit a brewery
- Create a marketing plan for existing businesses
- Research grants to help business owners improve their buildings
The new year is here, and the Fort Payne Board of Directors has a plan to act on the focus group findings. Economic Vitality, chaired by Sharon Bender Barnes, has tapped committee members to join her in recruiting a brewery. I am heading up the initiative to develop a marketing plan for existing Main Street businesses – our first meeting is Tuesday, February 11, at 9 am at The Strand, and our board of directors has a plan is in the works to soon launch our Downtown Improvement Grant program. (more about this in our next blog.)
We hope you will join us in the continued excitement of supporting our local downtown merchants and businesses – and become involved at any time. We are always looking for volunteers. Be sure and follow our blog, website, and social media to stay up-to-date on what’s happening on Fort Payne Main Street.